A CCKW truck tows an artillery piece onto a shore during amphibious training on Guadalcanal in March 1944
As we continue down the Road to Tokyo and through the Guadalcanal, we come first to two exhibits that detail why this Allied campaign signaled a pivotal point in the War in the Pacific.
The U.S. military chose Guadalcanal, in the Solomon Island chain, as their first offensive campaign in the Pacific beginning in August 1942. The Solomons represented the farthest reach of Japanese territorial control in the Pacific, and would be the first of many islands the U.S. would retake in a brutal three-year island-hopping campaign to reach the home islands and defeat Japan. This exhibit space covers the initial landings, the Battle of Savo Island, the Battle of the Tenaru River, and the Battle of the Eastern Solomons. An environmental projection will augment the text panels describing these operations with video footage and still images from the battles.
Bloody Ridge will provide an overview of the Battle for Guadalcanal through mid-October 1942. Bloody Ridge will detail the significance of the Tokyo Express, the Iron Bottom Sound, the Cactus Air Force, Edson’s Ridge, and the marine defenders as they engaged in intense warfare with tremendous dedication. The difficulty of obtaining US reinforcements and supplies (while the Japanese continued to receive both) will be emphasized, and personal items attained by soldiers based in Guadalcanal will be displayed. An environmental projection will project images and historic footage, including ambient sounds of warfare in the dense jungle background, to evoke the fierce fighting on Guadalcanal.
The Bloody Ridge exhibit within Road to Tokyo has been made possible through a generous gift from Dwight Anderson.
Donor Spotlight: Dwight Anderson
Dwight Anderson, who currently serves on the Museum’s Board of Trustees, is the Co-Founder, Principal, & Portfolio Manager of Ospraie Management, an asset management firm located in New York City. Dwight first became involved with The National WWII Museum through his long standing friendship with Board President Richard Adkerson. Dwight states that Richard’s “passion and enthusiasm in the way he described the Museum was infectious,” and sparked him to visit New Orleans.
On his very first visit to the Museum with his family, Dwight was indeed impressed by the content and substance of the Museum, backing up Richard’s glowing reviews. It was after this visit that Dwight decided to become more involved with institution and its expansion.
As a history major in college, Dwight believes in the importance of passing on the story of this monumental conflict to future generations. He noted “to be able to support an institution that was putting together all of the different elements of memorabilia [of the war] and also the multimedia presentations to instruct, teach, show people….that would really be beneficial.”
Dwight’s studies of World War II moved beyond his college days, as he has become an avid reader of World War II history. One of the first books that he read as he gained more interest in the war was “The Guadalcanal Diary,” a memoir written by war correspondent Richard Tregaskis. The stories of the months-long battle in the Pacific, and eventual Allied victory, inspired Dwight to make a capital gift to sponsor the Bloody Ridge exhibit within the Guadalcanal gallery.
However, Dwight’s connection to the war extends further than his studies. Two of Dwight’s great uncles fought in the war, and the souvenirs that his Uncle Eddie brought back, which Dwight used as toys when he was young, were physical reminders of the recent struggle.
Dwight shared that his involvement with the Museum has been very special. He remarked that hearing the veterans’ stories at the Museum — and the humor and humility that they bring to retelling often horrific circumstances — is very memorable and meaningful. He believes strongly that it is important that these stories are passed along to new, younger audiences. Dwight has demonstrated his belief that the depth and quality of the Museum is something that should be sustained, and his generous support helps ensure that it will continue.
The National WWII Museum is incredibly thankful for Mr. Dwight Anderson’s support as we continue to advance along our Road to Victory.
As we continue traveling on the Road to Tokyo, we stop next at our second immersive gallery space, Guadalcanal.
Guadalcanal represents the Allies’ transition from defending against Japanese attacks to planning strategic offensive ground operations against the enemy. The resolve of the U.S. military was tested throughout the campaign, as the American forces struggled against a lack of supplies, enemy reinforcements, brutal naval combat, treacherous jungle warfare, and a fanatical enemy. However, the ending victory was the first step in blunting Japanese expansion across the islands and pushing back on the long road to Tokyo.
The Guadalcanal Gallery will employ rare artifacts, exhibits and interactive elements as it explores the first major campaign by American forces against Japanese targets in the Pacific. In addition to covering a pivotal point in the War in the Pacific, the Guadalcanal Gallery offers a special opportunity for observing the growth and development of the U.S. military as they became more confident in their ability to defeat the Japanese military through a series of successful offensive and defensive operations.
All exhibits are set in a thematic environment with a jungle landscape and overhead canopy of trees. Visitors will pass through a weathered, wooden clapboard hut with a pitched roof and under camouflage netting hanging from above. Personal story panels located throughout the gallery provide opportunities for introspection. An introductory artifact case titled “Weapons of Guadalcanal” will be located near the entrance. The gallery will include four exhibits–Initial Operations, The Siege, Turning Point, and Fighting in the Jungle.
Visitors will take away why the US Military chose this Solomon Island as their first offensive campaign and explore the ruthless nature of the Japanese enemy and their fighting tactics in an unforgiving jungle environment.
The Guadalcanal Gallery has been made possible through a generous gift by Mr. and Mrs. Robert T. Hayes.
Serving in the Navy in the Pacific during World War II presented a unique set of advantages and challenges which differed from the experiences of other service men and women. Life aboard ship was characterized by cleaner environments and the availability of better food than in the life of an infantryman. However, engaging in naval combat with the Japanese was often intense and terrifying, and required precision and level-headedness under fire. Battles had a high risk of casualties, as men could easily become trapped when aboard a sinking vessel.
As we travel through Road to Tokyo, and within the New Naval Warface gallery, the Life Aboard Ship exhibit will convey the experiences of the men and women in US Navy, from the ordinary to the extraordinary, of being onboard ships in the vast Pacific Ocean.
Donor Spotlight- Strake Foundation
George W. Strake, Sr. and Pope Paul VI
The Life Aboard Shipexhibit has been made possible through a generous donation by the Strake Foundation.
George W. Strake was born in 1894, and raised in St. Louis, MO. He was the youngest of nine children and both of his parents passed away when he was very young. His first job was as a Western Union runner making $10 a week and putting $2 of his weekly salary into the Sunday church collection basket. Though he did not attend high school, he was admitted to St. Louis University after taking an entrance exam. Upon graduation, the United States was in World War I. He joined the Army in Florida, and became a wireless instructor in the Army Air Corps. He fell in love with a young lady from Florida but he would not marry her because “she had more money than I did.” She suggested to him to travel to Mexico as “that’s where the fortunes were going to be made.”
He followed her advice and moved to Tampico, Mexico. He began working with Gulf Oil Co. where he remained for two years. After leaving Gulf Oil Co., he began putting drilling deals together for fellow Americans. He married Susan Kehoe, from Houston, Texas. They had their first child, Betty Sue, in Houston, and they lived for a total of seven years in Tampico, Mexico.
The family then moved to Havana, Cuba where Strake sought to explore for oil but took on the Hutmobile dealership, in hopes of a quicker cash flow. Unfortunately, the dealership turned out to be an unsuccessful venture. After residing in Havana for two years, they family decided to move back to the United States. His intent was to move to Oregon to go into the timber business, but his mother-in-law became ill in Houston. In order to keep himself occupied while in Houston, Strake began putting drilling deals together in Texas. His signature accomplishment was drilling the discovery well in the Conroe Field, southwest of Conroe, Texas, in 1931. Prior to independently drilling the discovery well, he was turned down by eight major oil companies, who choose not to participate.
It was after the discovery of the Conroe Field that Strake established the Strake Foundation. This allowed him and his wife an opportunity to help many needed institutions and individuals.
George W. Strake, Jr.
The Strake Foundation continues the many charitable works that were started by George and Susan Strake today. One of their major philanthropic ventures is the Catholic Church and the Vatican. A highly significant project that the Strake Foundation supported was to fund the excavations beneath St. Peter’s Basilica, where the tomb of St. Peter was found. George Strake was bestowed the honor of Knight of St. Sylvester by the Pope. Mrs. Annette Strake’s grandparents on her father’s side, Frank & Gladys DeWalch, were also Italian and emigrated to the United States. It is because of these two facts that Strake Foundation found it appropriate to sponsor the Liberation of Rome exhibit within the Road to Berlin that opened in December 2014.
George Strake died in 1969, and his work through the Foundation has been continued by the Strake Family under the guidance of their son, George W. Strake, Jr. and their third child, Georganna Parsley. Young George graduated from St. Thomas High School in Houston, the University of Notre Dame and Harvard Business School. After George Jr. graduated from Notre Dame he was commissioned an Ensign in the United States Navy where he served for two years in the Pacific Fleet on an LST. This time in the US Navy inspired the Strake Foundation’s support for theLife Aboard Ship exhibit within the Road to Tokyo.
George and Annette Strake with President George Bush & his wife Barbara.
George Jr.’s love of the Navy and the United States Military began in his formative years when he was 6-10 years old during World War II. He can remember wanting to participate in the war effort with all other Americans. As a young boy he would collect newspapers, magazines and aluminum foil, taking them to the fire station “for the war effort.” He also planted vegetables for a “victory garden” in his mother’s azalea bed. His reaction was a reflection of the spirit that existed in WWII where everyone, regardless of their age, was a participant in the war effort. His uncle flew bombers in the European Theater and his two brothers-in-law, Bob Parsley and Bob Dilworth, flew for the United States Air Force and the United States Navy. George remembers his mother crocheting blankets for hours for the troops overseas. As George Jr. says, “the reason we won this terrible war, was because all Americans were involved.”
The Strake Foundation has been a generous supporter of The National WWII Museum since its opening in the year 2000. The National WWII Museum’s work helps fulfill the Strake Foundation’s mission of teaching the fact that “this is the greatest country in the world. It will not always be that way unless we are always vigilant.” We are very appreciative of the generous support the Strake Foundation provides to The National WWII Museum. George’s leadership and the foundation’s participation allow us to expand – with a sense of urgency – so we can share the stories of our WWII veterans while as many as possible are around to see it.
The effort to secure victory over the Japanese military in World War II brought about entirely new methods and strategies of naval warfare. The availability of innovative resources and technologies, coupled with the need to devise an alternative naval approach after the US fleet of battleships was diminished by the attack at Pearl Harbor, forced naval warfare to evolve rapidly. The introduction of unrestricted submarine warfare and aircraft carrier-based combat completely changed the way battles at sea were waged.
As we continue down the Road to Tokyo, we stop next at the New Naval Warfare gallery, which will demonstrate how the United States employed these new strategies, point to the obstacles they faced, explore the key naval battles that shifted the course of the war, and share the experiences of those who served on ships, submarines, and aircraft in the Pacific.
The New Naval Warfare will include six major exhibits that will employ an array of artifacts, interactive displays, and audio visual presentations to capture visitors’ imaginations and bring the history of the war in the Pacific to life. Visitors will learn about sailors’ and aviators’ experiences in their own words through oral histories that recount battles and everyday life at sea. Throughout, the exhibits will communicate both the broad strategic complexity of naval warfare and the individual bravery and leadership of the service members who took part in it. The New Naval Warfare gallery will connect with visitors to cultivate a better understanding of naval warfare in the Pacific, and its significant contribution to Allied victory in World War II.
Donor Spotlight: Lt. Commander Alden J. “Doc” Laborde, USN
TheNew Naval Warfare gallery in Road to Tokyo has been made possible through a generous gift from the late Lt. Commander Alden J. “Doc” Laborde, USN.
Born in Vinton, LA and raised in Marksville, Alden “Doc” Laborde, came from a long line of determined and hardworking individuals. He enrolled at the Naval Academy in June of 1934, and reveled in the traditions and regulations. He took great pride in the marching orders, strict rules, and square meals that shaped him into a man of great patience and character.
According to Alden, the Naval Academy changed his life, and upon graduating in 1938, it was not long until WWII forced his skills into use. He served as commander of three combat vessels in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. His convoys took him through various training sites in the US to Okinawa in August of 1945, arriving on the Japanese shore a few days after the atomic bombs were deployed. He remained in Japan for a few months, sweeping the harbors, before returning to the US in December of 1945 during a time of peace.
After the war, Alden began working for Kerr-McGee Corporation, as a mine-marine superintendent. At his time at Kerr-McGee, Laborde believed that the need to build a platform for each new well site was inefficient and costly, and that it may be possible to construct a mobile, submersible drilling rig. Inspired, he left the company and found an investor, Murphy Corp., to launch the first offshore drilling rig, pulling in Shell Oil Company as his first customer.
Alden found that his new method was incredibly successful and went on to establish three listed offshore service companies during his life: The Ocean Drilling and Exploration Co. (ODECO) in 1953, Tidewater Marine in 1954, and Gulf Island Fabrication Co. in 1985.
According to his son Jack, Alden was “very passionate about what he did, but often said you could always do things better.” He surrounded himself with intelligent and dedicated employees. He preached moderation in all things and was a devoted Catholic, receiving daily communion until his death. His attitude of being “happy with what you have,” is a lesson that his family continues to take to heart.
The Laborde family first became involved with the National WWII Museum shortly after Hurricane Katrina. The Almar Foundation, which tends to focus its efforts on poverty and rehabilitation, recognized the importance of the Museum remaining open in a city facing such dire straits, and chose to sponsor the Museum’s Road to Victory Capital Campaign.
The Museum is fortunate to have the opportunity to honor Lt. Commander Alden “Doc” Laborde and his courage through the Laborde Services Gallery and the upcoming New Naval Warfare gallery in Road to Tokyo. We are grateful for the Laborde family and the Almar Foundation for their support of our programs and capital expansion.
Opening this December, the Road to Tokyo: Pacific Theater Galleries will tell the story of the brave men and women fighting within the Asia-Pacific side of World War II and the logistical challenges, environmental difficulties, crude facilities, and tropical diseases they faced to secure victory.
As we begin our countdown through Road to Tokyo, we come first to the Introduction and Orientation Area. This gallery space will set the scene of how America first became involved with fighting in the Pacific.
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. Four days after the gruesome attack on US soil, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. Americans – determined to avenge the attack on their territory – were ready to launch a war with Japan.
The Road to Tokyo Introduction and Orientation Area will guide visitors through the precarious situation facing America, and the logistical challenges of fighting a two-front war, particularly across the vast Pacific Ocean and Asian territories now dominated by the Japanese. Finally, visitors will meet the Allied and Axis key leaders in the Pacific: Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Emperor Hirohito.
Road to Tokyo Introduction and Orientation Area
Donor Spotlight: The Starr Foundation
The Road to Tokyo Briefing Room: Japanese Onslaught has been made possible through a generous donation by The Starr Foundation.
Cornelius Vander Starr, Founder of The Starr Foundation
The Starr Foundation was established in 1955 by Cornelius Vander Starr, who served in the US Army during WWI. He died in 1968 at the age of 76, leaving his estate to the Foundation, and he named his business partners – Ernest E. Stempel, John J. Roberts, Houghton Freeman, and Maurice R. “Hank” Greenberg – to run the foundation under Greenberg’s leadership. The partners were all WWII veterans: Stempel, Roberts, and Freeman all served in the Navy in the Pacific and Greenberg served in the Army in Europe.
Maurice R. Greenberg is the current Chairman of The Starr Foundation
Greenberg served throughout the European Theater – from landing on the beaches of Normandy to fighting in the Battle of the Bulge to the liberating concentration camps in Germany. Greenberg received the Legion of Honor from the French government on the 70th Anniversary of D-Day in 2014. When being praised for his brave military service, Greenberg responds that he was “only one of millions of WWII veterans who fought for our country.”
The Starr Foundation awarded the Museum a $1 million grant, after Museum founder Stephen Ambrose met with Greenberg in 2001. Eager to dedicate a space that would preserve the story of the European Theater in Greenberg’s honor, The Starr Foundation generously provided an additional gift in 2006 in support of the Museum’s Road to Victory Capital Campaign to name the Road to Tokyo Introduction Area gallery.
Florence Davis, President of The Starr Foundation
President of the Starr Foundation, Florence Davis believes the Museum is “a good reminder of the ideals that Americans fought for in the past and what we continue to fight for today.”
One of The Starr Foundation’s focuses is to “invest in education and international affairs,” Davis states that “the Museum educates visitors about the positive lessons of how the country pulled together on rationing, war bonds, and enlistment in huge numbers, as well as the negative lessons of the (racial) segregation of troops and internment of Japanese Americans. Understanding the entire history of WWII, warts and all, is very important.”
The Museum is grateful for the Foundation’s support and for the leadership of Greenberg and Davis, who have played key roles in developing the Museum into a world-class institution.
Guadalcanal Gallery in Road to Tokyo: Pacific Theater Galleries
Pacific Theater Galleries
We are proud to present to you the Road to Tokyo, the second floor Pacific Theater Galleries scheduled for completion in December 2015. In combination with the first floor, the Road to Berlin, which opened in December 2014, the Campaigns of Courage Pavilion portrays the bravery, sacrifice, and sense of duty demonstrated by soldiers in each branch of the US military services in all campaigns of World War II.
For America, World War II began in the Pacific. Although the nation’s attention had long been drawn to events in Europe, it was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that officially brought America into World War II. The Asia–Pacific Campaign builds on that galvanizing event, following the path that leads from Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Harbor by way of New Guinea and Southeast Asia, the Himalayas, Burma, and the islands of the Pacific. Road to Tokyo will explore the evolving strategy for fighting in Asia and the Pacific, and the cultural differences and tremendous range of extreme conditions that confronted our soldiers. Galleries will include: The New Naval Warfare, Guadalcanal, Pacific Campaign Challenges, Island Hopping, China-Burma-India, Philippines, Death at Japan’s Doorstep, and Downfall.
All design for these galleries is now complete and exhibit construction has begun. In anticipation of these incredible exhibit spaces, and the completion of a major step in the Museum’s Capital Expansion, we would like to give you a sneak peek of the galleries and spotlight the generous donors who have made the construction of Road to Tokyo possible.
Briefing Room in Road to Tokyo
USS Enterprise in Road to Tokyo
Donor Spotlight: Richard C. Adkerson
Museum Board Chairman, Richard C. Adkerson
The Museum is immensely proud to highlight Board Chairman Richard C. Adkerson, who, together with his company, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., pledged $5 million. Mr. Adkerson’s gift honors the service of his father, a Seabee in the Pacific during WWII. Freeport’s gift recognizes its large-scale mining operations in Papua, Indonesia on the island of New Guinea. Mr. Adkerson is the President, CEO & Vice Chairman of Freeport-McMoRan.
Adkerson’s parents came from small-farm families in Lauderdale County in west Tennessee. His father, J.W. Adkerson, enlisted immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He became a Marine and a Seabee, a support unit in the Navy best known for construction projects, and he served two tours in the South Pacific including on Guadalcanal, the Marshall Islands, the Caroline Islands and Guam. His mother’s twin brother, William Lawton “Buddy” Thornley, served in the Army in New Guinea under General MacArthur. Regrettably, both died during the early 1970s. J.W. never talked much about the war, and never wanted to vacation at beaches. Years later, in his mother’s memorabilia collection, the younger Adkerson found a piece of a map of the South Pacific where his father had traced the places he had been during his two WWII tours. Richard Adkerson often landed en route to Indonesia on air strips constructed during WWII in Majuro in the Marshall Islands and Paulu in the Caroline Islands where his father once was – and these experiences would later influence his involvement with the Museum.
After graduating from Mississippi State University with highest honors, Mr. Adkerson began his career in New Orleans and, after living in Washington D.C., Houston and Chicago, Adkerson returned to New Orleans in 1989 to join Freeport-McMoRan. A few years later, Stephen Ambrose began speaking with executives at Freeport about early plans for the Museum. Adkerson expressed strong interest from the beginning. His favorite memory of the Museum is the opening on June 6, 2000, and the feeling he had watching the veterans in the parade through the streets of New Orleans and the warm, patriotic reception they so richly deserved.
Museum President and CEO Gordon “Nick” Mueller and Trustee Donald “Boysie” Bollinger approached Adkerson about joining the board in 2002, and Adkerson enthusiastically agreed. That year the Museum’s annual Victory Ball gala fundraiser, of which Freeport was a sponsor, honored former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, a Freeport emeritus board member and close friend of Adkerson’s. Adkerson left the board in 2007 when Freeport moved its headquarters from New Orleans to Phoenix, but four years later Museum Trustee Governor Pete Wilson visited Adkerson and suggested that he re-join the Museum board. Adkerson accepted the invitation, and then in June of 2013 he became the Museum’s Board Chairman.
Adkerson felt that as he assumed the Chairman’s role, “it would be a good time for Freeport and myself personally to make gifts that would help the Museum move forward in achieving our goals and encourage others to participate as well.” Adkerson and Freeport decided to donate $5 million to name the Road to Tokyo. They felt this would fit naturally with his father’s involvement in the Pacific and Freeport’s current mining work in New Guinea. In addition, Freeport’s predecessor company played a significant role on the Home Front by supplying copper materials during WWII.
With the help of this leadership gift, we will be able to tell the complete story of the war in the Pacific. We extend our sincere thanks to Richard C. Adkerson and Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. for their commitment to the Museum’s essential mission.
The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world - why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today - so that all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn.