On Oct. 20, 1944, Gen. Douglas MacArthur waded ashore to the Philippines island of Leyte with the declaration, “People of the Philippines, I have returned!”
Nearly two years earlier, MacArthur and his family had been forced to flee the Philippines as an invading Japanese army took hold of the region. To the thousands of Filipino and American personnel left behind, Gen. MacArthur vowed, “I shall return.”
Despite the return to Leyte, the road to victory in the Pacific would be one of struggle, sacrifice, and unimaginable horror. Here are some of the most compelling images from the Pacific theater of World War II.
On April 9, 1942, approximately 75,000 captured US and Philippine troops were forced to march 65 miles from Mariveles to San Fernando, in what became known as the Bataan Death March.
The following months proved to be among the most bloody confrontations of World War II.
A weary and exhausted Marine weeps amid the rubble after the tough battle for Hill 200 Near Peleliu Airport in August 1944 (left); a group of Marines look on as Saipan civilians choose suicide over surrendering to American troops.
A Marine advances under Japanese fire on Okinawa in 1945 (left); a grizzled and weary US soldier is seen smoking a cigarette during the final days of fighting to gain control of the island of Saipan in July 1944.
US Marine Cpl. Robert Borrell is seen firing a 50-caliber machine gun inside a bomber over Papua New Guinea, 1943 (left). After a raid on Rabaul, crewmen lift an injured Kenneth Bratton out of the turret of a TBF on the USS Saratoga in the Pacific, November 1943.