The Armed Forces History Museum in Largo, FL has a WWII USMC/South Pacific Diorama. At the entrance to this diorama is a full-size operational DUKW and an M5A1 Stuart Tank both used in WWII. In addition, there is a display case specifically for USMC memorabilia. Upon entering this diorama, visitors have the unique opportunity to experience the live audio of marine John Residence, a survivor of the Iwo Jima battle. John served in the artillery unit of the 5th Marines Division. A full size 75 mm pack howitzer along with a fully-equipped Marine. A detailed lit map of the USMC South Pacific operations and battles, along with many photos, flags and display cases –all bearing authentic and unusual memorabilia are on display in this historic gallery. This gallery is an absolute must see as it reflects the core of our success and sacrifices in the South Pacific during World War II.
A Brief Look at the USMC in the South Pacific
The battle in the south Pacific challenged the US Marines on many levels. Enemy aside, the elements endured in the Pacific theater during World War II were very different than the picturesque visions one creates today when thinking about this area of the world. Along with countless miles journeyed upon the open waters, sweltering heat, monsoons and rough terrain were part of the everyday life of a US Marine.
The battle fields were isolated pockets and the men depended greatly upon the skill and courage of their fellow Marines for survival. Humor was an important means of coping as they cut through endless miles of rain forest. Various challenges were met throughout the islands in the South Pacific and had to be dealt with while fighting a war – a war with a vicious enemy.
As the marines descended upon Iwo Jima and Okinawa, they experienced some of the most brutal combat in United States history. In Okinawa, the US Marine Corps troops endured days of endless enemy fire as they trudged through the mud fighting maggots, flies and roaches. Malaria was but one of the many physical maladies encountered here and throughout the South Pacific by these brave young men. At times, despite illness and total exhaustion, a marine would sometimes still be required to remain on the battlefront due to the shortage of troops.
The USMC soldiers who fought in the South Pacific give true testimony to the determination of the human spirit in its quest for freedom and survival. They did it not for hero recognition; they did it for each other, because that is what Marines do.