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Americans in World War II

The Americans entered World War II on the side of the Allies after the Japanese bombed on December 7, 1941. The war had been waging though Europe for two year, ever since Germany invaded Poland.

Many had thought America, being a world power, should have entered the war long before Pearl Harbor, but America chose to remain neutral until attacked. It is estimated that 2,350 people died at Pearl Harbor, including 68 civilians. The majority of those killed (1,178) were stationed on the USS Arizona. Shortly after entering the war, America began to coordinate strategy with the British. Although it would be almost a year before they fought the Axis forces (Germany, Italy, and Japan), American troops began arriving in the British Isles in January 1942. By the 4th of July 1942, Americans started participating in air raids over Germany.

The American soldiers were not the only ones fighting the war. American industry had to up its production, making supplies not only for the American troops , but the other Allied forces. A rationing system, which included such things as tires, automobiles, typewriters, sugar, gasoline, coffee, stoves, meat, cheese, canned milk, and butter, was set up once America entered the war. Individuals in families, including babies, were given a book of rationing stamps and were only allowed to purchase the rationed products if they had stamps.

Women in America, who were once viewed primarily as homemakers, began working outside the home in factories and other jobs vacated by the men fighting the war. Almost one million women took government jobs and were referred to as " government girls."

On the front line, many Americans who were viewed as second class citizens stepped up to help defend the country. The Tuskegee Airmen of the 332nd Fighter Group consisted only of African-American pilots. Between 1940 and 1946, almost one thousand pilots were trained at the Tuskegee Institute, with about half being deployed overseas. One hundred and fifty airmen were killed, but by the end of the war, the Tuskegee Airmen were credited with shooting down 109 Luftwaffe airplanes, sinking the Italian destroyer TA-23 (operated by the Germans), and numerous fuel dumps, trucks, and trains in 1,500 missions.

Another group that emerged as heroes during World War II was the Navajo code talkers. The Americans actively recruited Navajo men to use their native language, which was non-written and extremely complex, to encode messages transmitted by telephone and radio. The code talkers were used for every Marine Corps assault in the Pacific from 1942 to 1945. The language was so foreign that the Japanese were never able to crack the code, ensuring that transmissions remained secure.

Through the efforts of the military, its leaders, the Allied forces, and those at home in America, the Allies were able to secure a victory in Europe (VE Day on May 7 & 8, 1945) and a victory in the Pacific (VP Day on August 15, 1945) to end the war.

Here are some great web sites that talk about the involvement of America in World War II: