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Pacific War Museum

September 3, 2011

This private museum is chock a block full of interesting ephemera; I found just as much to look at on a second visit as I did the first.

The owner of the museum, an inventive sort, repurposed parts of the old airport to build this place for practically nothing.  I find this factoid cool, as it’s how things are done on an island with limited resources.

I looked around the edges where misc stuff was stacked up. It was as interesting, if not more so, than the main displays.

Wars, although very ugly, barbaric and costly, are a catalyst for technology advances.

This first generation wireless telephone (called a field phone, if I remember correctly) is an example.  It was sitting on a table agains the back wall – an origin point for technology we find indispensable today.

There was more electronic ephemera inside.

We prevailed over our adversary in the Pacific on three fronts.  First, the Japanese underestimated the swiftness and severity of our response.

Living in relative isolation in the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, they figured once they knocked out our forward bases in Hawaii, the Marhsall Islands and Guam, we’d be too preoccupied with the European effort to mount opposition.

They figured wrong.

Second (and this is a little-known strategic fact which had a HUGE impact on our success), we cracked their communications code fairly early on.  We knew where they would be and could surprise them at every turn.  We were able to knock out their Pacific fleet with this knowledge.

To retain our secrets, we employed Native American “code-talkers” who communicated top secret orders in Navajo, amongst other languages.  Our codes were never broken as a result.  Many lives were spared via communications superiority.

Finally, and this is the part I’m most proud of , we flat out-produced the Japanese.

There was more production capacity in the Arsenal of Democracy than Japan, Germany and Italy combined as of 1943.  All of Detroit’s industry was converted to the manufacture of engines of war – we built ’em faster than the enemy could sink ’em, blow ’em up or knock them out of the air.

Sadly, we no longer have this capacity; Pontiac is a marque relegated to the dustbin along with Oldsmobile, Hudson, Nash, Studebaker, Packard, Plymouth, Desoto, Rambler, Willys – the factories which produced these vehicles were a distinct and deciding factor in the tide of war.  They are no more, as Americans have a decided preference for Japanese and German vehicles.

How soon we forget.

Meanwhile, engines of war stand in mute testimony to a time where our priorities were clearly focused.

Let us hope the next generation retains the spirit of the Greatest Generation.  They’re going to need it.

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