On 7 Dec 1941 the Japanese, in an unprovoked attack, bombed Pearl Harbor completely destroying most of the American Pacific Fleet. This act finally pushed America into the war and made the outcome inevitable.
In the fierce fighting that ensued, American sea power, especially the Carrier Task Forces, were to prove crucial. Out maneuvered, outgunned and lacking sufficient air power Japan fell back before the onslaught until the Americans stood at the gates of the Caroline Islands (now Micronesia).
Here lay the Truk Islands, a near atoll of twelve volcanic islands inside a huge lagoon fifty miles long by thirty miles wide. This was Japan’s second most important base outside its homeland and was home to the Combined Fleet and strategically used as a supply base on the 17 Feb 1944 operation Hailstorm was launched. At last revenge for Pearl Harbor was at hand. 450 planes bombed, strafed, and torpedoed the lagoon and its islands for two days. Over fifty ships were sunk and 270 planes destroyed. oil storage tanks were set ablaze, the runways, workshops and barracks severely damaged. Close to eight thousand people were killed or injured. It was Pearl Harbor in spades and the end of Japan as a sea power.
Today the islands live on their past history. A population off thirty two thousand ekes out a poor living growing coconuts and servicing the thriving tourist industry. For all that its development is slow, it is still an idyllic tropical island and its people are very friendly. A typical tropical island. With out the treasure of its wrecks it would have been long forgotten Cheaper air fairs and mass tourism may still ruin the islands, but the undersea areas are treated as a mass war grave and very well protected. Apart from Scapa Flow in Scotland, there is nowhere on earth that you can see this amount of shipwrecks in such a total state of completeness. The wrecks have been rusting quietly for fifty years now, and in fifty more years, they will have collapsed and become meaningless piles of scrap. If you want to see the eighth wonder of the world, go now, later will be too late.