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Living History Day: John Basilone, Guadalcanal and the Cactus Air Force
John Basilone, Guadalcanal and the Cactus Air Force (Rick Ector)
Guadalcanal was an island in the South Pacific that few Americans had ever heard of in 1942. The invasion and capture of the island, which began on August 7th, 1942, was the first Allied offensive against Japan – a long, arduous and bloody process that culminated in Tokyo Bay on September 2nd, 1945. One of the heroes of Guadalcanal was John Basilone, and Marine sergeant who helped stave off over 3,000 Japanese soldiers during the Battle of Lunga Point on the night of October 25 and 26, 1942. Basilone commanded two sections of machine guns that fought for the next two days until only Basilone and two other Marines were left standing. Basilone moved an extra gun into position and maintained continual fire against the incoming Japanese forces. He then repaired and manned another machine gun, holding the defensive line until replacements arrived. For his heroism, Basilone received the Congressional Medal of Honor.
The Battle for Guadalcanal was a true land, air and sea struggle that lasted until the Japanese were fully evacuated in February 1943. Key to the Allies’ ultimate victory were the “Cactus Air Force” that helped defend the island against constant Japanese air raids, as well as the heroic efforts of the U.S. and Australian Navies in the waters that became known as “Ironbottom Sound.”
Rick Ector will explore the battle and its implications in this multi-media presentation at the Dixie Wing.