On July 7, 1937, Japan invaded China to initiate the war in the Pacific; while the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939 unleashed the European war.
As to Hawaiʻi, War Department message of November 27, 1941 read as follows: “Negotiations have come to a standstill at this time. No diplomatic breaking of relations and we will let them make the first overt act. You will take such precautions as you deem necessary to carry out the Rainbow plan [a war plan]. Do not excite the civilian population.” (Proceedings of Army Pearl Harbor Board)
Oʻahu held a position of the first importance in the military structure of the US before and during WWII. During the prewar years, Oʻahu and the Panama Canal Zone were the two great outposts of continental defense. (army-mil)
A key goal in the Pacific was to hold Oʻahu as a main outlying naval base and to protect shipping in the waters around the Hawaiian Islands.
In the year before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, American strategists developed a strategy that focused on “Germany first.” In the end, that was what occurred with the American war effort. Then, Japan attacked America at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and the US entered the war.
But for much of 1942 and well into 1943, the US deployed substantially greater forces to the Pacific than to Europe. This was in response both to political pressure from the American people and the rapidly deteriorating situation in the Pacific over the first six months of the war.
On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000-Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline, to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France.
General Dwight D Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which “we will accept nothing less than full victory.” More than 5,000-ships and 13,000-aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day’s end, the Allies gained a foot-hold in Continental Europe.
The final battles of the European Theater of WWII, as well as the German surrender to the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, took place in late-April and early-May 1945.
On August 6 and 9, 1945, atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. On September 2, 1945, the Japanese signed the Instrument of Surrender on the deck of USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.
During World War II, Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower (October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe and achieved the rare five-star rank of General of the Army. Eisenhower oversaw the invasions of North Africa and Sicily before supervising the invasions of France and Germany.
Following the war, Eisenhower served as Army Chief of Staff; in the spring of 1946 he toured military facilities in the Pacific and elsewhere, including Hawai‘i.
The Commander at Kilauea Military Camp (KMC), who at the time was working on post-war closing up and returning schools, warehouses, land, and even the Saddle Road which had been built by the military to the community (as well as providing military help in cleaning up following the April 1946 tsunami), got word that Eisenhower was coming for a five-day visit, for rest, after a tour of the Pacific nations.
Eisenhower was looking for “quiet time, no protocol, no attention.”
At the time, KMC “was ceasing to be only for war-weary soldiers for rest, relaxation and recreation. The camp still had a contingent of 10 officers and 148 enlisted men; three Red Cross hostesses, a Librarian and a good jazz band.”
“There were 12 good riding horses, 4 pack mules for trips to the summit of Mauna Loa, a number of bicycles, a tennis court, a bowling alley, a fine library, and a first-class bakery in a building by itself. Never-the-less KMC personnel got to work sprucing up the place, the General was coming.”
Eisenhower stayed in Cabin 44; it was called Hale-o-Nalii (house of the chief – it served as quarters for general’s at KMC). It was later renamed Eisenhower House, due to the fact that ~that~ general slept there.
On one night, Eisenhower “was feeling very rested and would enjoy some entertainment and asked for suggestions.” He was offered, “‘How about a party with cocktails, dinner and a Hawaiian troop of dancers and musicians?’”
“The idea was accepted, but that meant we had only one day to prepare for everything.” (Pauline Wollaston, the KMC Commander’s wife, Hawaii Tribune-Herald, Dec 14, 1986)
“All went well. The general ordered several highballs, the dinner was superb, and he loved the entertainment. While this was going on I happened to glance at one of his aides – a gray-haired, battle-worn general. Tears were streaming down his face.”
“I asked him what was the matter, could I do something for him. He answered, ‘Oh, you all already have! When I see this great man enjoying himself, I can’t control my emotions.’”
“Gen. Eisenhower left the next morning; and all along the roadway, from KMC to the airport, there were children and adults waving and cheering.” (Pauline Wollaston, Hawaii Tribune Herald, Dec 14, 1986)
Eisenhower also served as president of Columbia University (1948–1953) and as the first Supreme Commander of NATO (1951–1952). He was elected the 34th President of the United States (January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961). (Lots of information here from KMC, Hawaii Tribune-Herald, army-mil and GlobalSecurity.)