National Geographic : 1967 May
Moldering skeleton of war, a wrecked Jap anese plane on a palm-fringed isle recalls the nightmare of World War II. So much debris litters Micronesia that scrap metal provides the Territory's second most valuable export, after copra. Though it is illegal, islanders also kill fish with explosives gleaned from live ammunition they find lying about. From secret Micronesian bases, Japan sup ported her attacks on Pearl Harbor, Wake, and Guam that opened the Pacific war. In 738 1944, American forces sealed Japan's doom by winning the islands in costly, grinding assaults. Even as troops fought for the Mar ianas, engineers began improving Japanese built runways on Tinian (right) that launched fateful atom-bomb raids on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On Saipan, visible across a strait, Japanese defenders mounted a suicidal banzai charge rather than surrender. Earlier, U. S. naval elements protecting the invasion destroyed 330 Japanese planes and two air craft carriers in the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot," the war's most decisive carrier battle.