Sacrifice for Peace: Reflections on Sailors Who Helped Win World War II
by Adm. William K. Lescher, Vice Chief of Naval Operations
Seventy-five years today, on the deck of the battleship USS Missouri (BB 63) in Tokyo Bay, the Empire of Japan formally surrendered to the Allied force, bringing an end to hostilities and formally marking the end of World War II. The Nation and families of more than 1.3 million brave Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen who were then stationed in the Pacific joined with millions of people all around the world in celebration of the tremendous achievement.
The battle in the Pacific was a hard fought victory for the United States and its allies, and to be sure, the Navy’s role in the Pacific cannot be overstated. The war began with Pearl Harbor, where the Navy took the brunt of the attack, but the nation would rally, and the U.S. Navy would be called upon to be the major force in the Pacific. American Naval forces were essential to victory, and it’s fitting that the formal surrender of the Empire of Japan took place aboard a U.S. Navy warship.
The fighting spirit and resiliency of the Sailors and Marines who fought to end tyranny in the Pacific will never be forgotten. From the very beginning, we witnessed them doing extraordinary things, from Pearl Harbor, to Coral Sea, to Midway; from Guadalcanal, to Tarawa, to Leyte Gulf; from Saipan, to Guam, and then Iwo Jima and Okinawa, our naval forces persisted and remained steadfast in the cause. They fought bravely and earned the hard fought peace the world has benefited from – a peace that has largely endured in the Pacific for 75 years.
This anniversary is an important opportunity for us to reflect on the service and sacrifice of the millions of brave service members who fought in the Pacific Theater. The peace and prosperity of today are the hallmarks of their deeds in World War II; we should all take a moment to remember the sacrifice and truly reflect on the stunning achievement of the Greatest Generation.
Yet, on the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, we once again face great power competition in the Pacific and elsewhere. It is now our responsibility to pick up that mantle and carry forth their spirit. Inspired by the immeasurable sacrifice of the thousands of service members and families during World War II, let’s recommit ourselves to the service of the nation, the defense of democracy, and the preservation of freedom wherever it is threatened.
Let us take time today to offer our appreciation for our shipmates who served our nation so well during World War II and to use their example of service, sacrifice, and valor to inspire us to become a better Navy in the future. I stand proud of the values of our past and proud of you, the Sailors who will lead us into our future.
William K. Lescher
Vice Chief of Naval Operations