Aug 21

Day 3- March 17/18 Honolulu to Saipan, via Guam

Tuesday, August 21, 2018 12:01 AM


Lieutenant Leroy Fadem recently revisited sites in the Pacific where he saw action in the Navy during the tumultuous years of the War in the Pacific over 70 years ago. This is a journal of that recent trip as kept by his son, Steven Fadem, who accompanied Lt. Fadem on that journey of rediscovery.

Back in 1944 when Dad traveled from Honolulu to Guam on the Stevens it took over a week at sea. Today we made the journey in a little over eight hours, with two meals, some wine, a movie and air conditioning. The juxtaposition is stunning. The world has gotten so much smaller. Now most people alive today have no living memory of what 15 million servicemen and women, and millions of non-combatants did to protect our freedom during the first half of the 20th Century. There is so much we take for granted that only exists because of their courage and sacrifice.

Two weeks ago Dad spoke to Chloe’s 7th grade history class. Dad taught the kids about the strategic reasons we went to war with Japan and shared his wartime experiences (made age-appropriate.) The map he passed around of the Pacific battles was part of a geography and political lesson these kids were not exposed to before. For a generation of kids easily distracted because of their exposure to social media and its soundbites of news, he held their rapt attention for 90 minutes. The living stories are so vital to preserving the personal stories behind the history.

(Courtesy of the Author)

(Courtesy of the Author)

So it is really exciting to be traveling with 11 World War II veterans, each bringing a unique perspective of the war. Some bring battle experience- like Dad and Woody Williams-the sole surviving Medal of Honor winner from Iwo Jima, others bring logistics and support insights.

The battles of the Pacific took place thousands of miles from home and from the nearest staging site. It was a logistics nightmare. Paul Hilliard, the incoming Chair of the WWII Museum and himself a WWII vet, told me there were over 750,000 items on the quartermaster’s list that were transported from the mainland to the Pacific theater. You couldn’t just run out and pick up something you’d forgotten. Each island closer to Japan became both a strategic site for landing strip capabilities and a staging site for refueling and restocking supplies.

Laurie bought me an Apple Watch for our anniversary and sitting down for a drink with Dad at sunset on the first day my watch ran out of juice. I totally forgot it had to be charged, not “shaken.” I walked a block away to the Apple store after dinner and after paying a “stupidity tax” of $31 I was on my way with a new charger. You couldn’t do that in 1942. In fact, the computer power in my laptop gives me the ability to replicate thousands and thousands of pages of logistics requirements into one spreadsheet and send with one email to everyone who needs to get it.

We arrived late into Saipan after a transfer in Guam. More tomorrow.

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