Why It Came To Be Called the "Marianas Turkey Shoot"



In order to learn more about what might have actually happened in World War II, and to determine whether former President George Bush, as a Naval pilot, had committed treason, it has been necessary for me to do something I tend to not enjoy doing: read a "war book," Edwin P.Hoyt's To the Marianas: War in the Central Pacific, 1944 (New York: Avon, 1961). Chapter 16 of that book, titled "Ozawa Strikes," deals with events surrounding the American landings on Saipan and the other Marianas islands, including Guam. The chapter focuses on the attempt by the Japanese Navy to destroy the American task force attacking Japanese positions on Saipan in support of the U.S. landings. The battle that ensued was known as the "Marianas Turkey Shoot." The chapter also describes what happened to Japanese air forces over Guam. (Hoyt 145-62).

There is a lot of detail in the chapter in general and Hoyt gives especially useful details about the naval battle. This battle was important in investigating Bush's activities in World War 2, since the day the battle started, June 19, 1944, is also the day Bush (supposedly) landed his Avenger on the water off Guam. In this chapter, Hoyt (150) shows in detail exactly when Bush's plane left the aircraft carrier. But even more important, Hoyt reveals a detail about the battle that may be highly significant.

A few minutes before Bush's plane took off, the main force of Japanese aircraft first arrived over the U.S. task force.(Hoyt 150). At this point, however, the Japanese performed a very odd maneuver. With a huge force of planes, the Japanese could have bored straight in for the U.S. carriers and probably done a significantly larger amount of damage than they actually did to the American planes still on deck.

Instead of doing this, however, the Japanese planes began to circle around above the U.S. carriers.(Hoyt 150). This gave the U.S. admiral time to order all the torpedo bombers and other planes which hadn't yet taken off from the carriers, to proceed to do so. This latter group included Bush's plane, a torpedo bomber. (Hoyt 150). This maneuver was extremely odd, especially for Japanese aircraft, which usually were more than anxious to bore straight in for U.S. ships, even when they weren't as well prepared as they were in this first wave.

The oddness of this maneuver, is, for me, thought-provoking. When placed into the larger context of events which were going on at the time, it begins to look more and more suspicious. Why would the Japanese have deliberately given the American commander time to launch his remaining planes?

Also in this chapter, Hoyt reveals that Guam remained usable to the Japanese for incoming air traffic from 10:20 a.m. (150) until "nearly dusk." (160). In between these times, Guam remained unattacked by U.S. aircraft.

U.S. fighter planes had strafed Guam earlier that morning, from 6:30 a.m. until 8:00 a.m.(Hoyt 146-8). But when the large force of Japanese planes appeared, these fighters had been needed to fend off the four waves of attacking Japanese aircraft. This defense lasted until about 4:30 p.m., at which time a group of U.S. fighters were again free to hit Guam, arriving there at about 6:00 p.m., when "dusk was settling in." (Hoyt 160).

As I read this data, in the context of other data I've also read, my head was practically reeling! This blow by blow chronology of the naval and air battle over Guam reveals that there was, in fact, a "window" in which George Bush could actually have landed his plane on Guam while it was still in Japanese hands! And this window actually began at precisely the time that Bush's plane was first in the air.

Hoyt ends the chapter by noting that damaged Japanese aircraft were still able to fly into Guam that afternoon, since the airfields, having only been strafed, not yet bombed, were still usable. (159). He also notes that, "On the night of June 19, there were still many Japanese pilots on Guam."(Hoyt 161). There was a sixty percent casualty rate for Japanese planes coming into Guam at the end of the battle that dusk and evening. (Hoyt 161). This was much higher than earlier in the day, when Guam had been left unattended by U.S. planes.

The airfield on Guam, near dusk, had finally been lightly bombed by the U.S. planes. (Hoyt 161). Until then the Guam airfields were usable enough that even damaged Japanese planes could land on them. (Hoyt 156).

Such details are important, and, used with additional sources, Hoyt's battle chronology is an essential part of this research, revealing a clearer picture of what went on that day in July, 1944, on Guam.

Thomas Devine's book Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident. (Frederick, Colo:Renaissance House, 1987), has quite a bit of extremely relevant material to research into the activities of Bush during the Second World War, by giving details about the Marianas from yet another perspective. His material which most relevant to this research covers pages 36-57 (including chapter footnotes on pages 54-55); the reference footnote number 27, found in the Appendix on page 188; the second half of Chapter 3, "Saipan, 1944;" the entirety of Chapter 4, "The Man in the White Shirt;" and the first two pages of Chapter 5, "Garrison Duty on Saipan."

In this material, Devine described his experiences as a Marine stationed on Saipan in 1944, and, in this section, Devine claims to have seen "Amelia Earhart's plane." And he also claims to have seen Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal on the island of Saipan. He also gives data about the contents of Forrestal's diary that seems to prove that Forrestal was in the Marianas for period(s) of time in 1944. (Devine 36-57).

Devine's book was even better than I'd expected, providing an in-depth description of the eyewitness of "Amelia Earhart's plane" on Saipan. Devine claims not only to have seen this plane, but also says he saw Navy Secretary Forrestal, a business partner in Standard Oil and a close associate and ally of Allen Dulles, on Saipan.

Devine also presents information which tends to prove that Forrestal was in the Marianas in 1944. (49-52). This information is pulled from Forrestal's diaries, which, Devine explains, show that Forrestal had no entries for two periods of time in 1944, with one time frame from July 8 to 20, 1944 (49-52), the other from July 21 to August 8, 1944. (Devine, 188, chapter note 27). Devine makes much of the first time frame, but thinks little of the second.(49-52).

However, the latter time frame was very important to me, since it tends to show that Forrestal was, in fact, also "out of pocket" during a time period when Aslito Airfield on Saipan finally first became usable to U.S. forces. In his footnote reference on page 188, Devine also seems to waver as to the exact date he actually saw Forrestal, from an emphasis on July 20, 1944, to one of "the summer of 1944." (Devine 188, chapter note 27). In this, he quotes directly from Nancy Bressler, an archivist. She was replying to his inquiries pertaining to the diaries of Forrestal. Devine, in quoting her directly here, seems to shift from an exact July 29, 1944 date to a more general, summer 1944 time frame.(Devine 188, chapter note 27).

This also suggests that, if Forrestal was in fact out of pocket between July 22 and August 8, 1944, he was there in connection with the newly re-usable Orote airfield on Guam. Orote field was usable by July 29, 1944. Aslito Field on Saipan first became usable to U.S. forces much earlier, on June 28-July 1, 1944, a time period when Forrestal was back in Washington, DC, according to his diaries. (Devine 52). But Forrestal was "out of pocket" again from July 22 to August 8, 1944. (Devine 54, "Notes to chapter 4"). This means that both the Guam and Saipan airfields were usable at the time Devine saw Forrestal on Saipan.

This is especially significant in view of how Devine claims in this section of his book to have seen three aircraft in flight over Saipan, possibly from a nearby island. (Guam is a nearby island to Saipan.) If aircraft were in flight from Guam to Saipan and if Forrestal were seen in close proximity of them, one must ask why. Clearly, a cover-up of "Amelia Earhart's plane" is one possibility.

But another possibility is a cover-up of another sort. Devine is sure that one of the three planes he saw flying into Saipan that day lacked military markings. He thought at the time that, of the three (two single-engine, one double-engine), the twin-engine plane was "Amelia Earhart's plane" and lacked military markings. However, it is equally possible that his memory is slightly blurred. If so, one of the planes did lack military markings. But it wasn't the double engine one, but rather one of the single engine planes. This would be Bush's Avenger, which he'd landed on Guam earlier, on June 19, 1944.

Forrestal could thus have been there to blow up a plane alright, as Devine alleges (Devine 42). But the plane he was there to blow up, was not Amelia Earhart's, but George Bush's.

Details such as these make a difference. The exact dates when things occurred, or when diaries fall silent, are as important as any other data in determining what was actually being covered up. Forrestal was not "out of pocket" on the first day of Saipan airfield's usability for U.S. forces, June 29-July 1, 1944, since his diary has an entry for that date. But he was after July 22, 1944. And since Guam airfield became became usable to U.S. forces on July 29, 1944, this means that the lack of Forrestal diary entries for that and several subsequent days in 1944 could be important evidence in the "case" against George Bush.

Hoyt, in Chapter 26, "Guam Retaken," describes the battle of Guam, in which American forces recaptured Guam island from the Japanese, who had occupied it since December 10, 1941, and gives details as to when specific landmarks and objectives where captured by U.S. forces. He gives information on the Japanese commanding officers on Guam, including what happened to them during the battle, and a step by step chronology in detail about events involving U.S. forces in the recapture of Guam. (Hoyt 251-78).

Hoyt details who the Japanese commanders were and how they were both killed during the battle. I also learned that Guam had been abandoned by the Japanese air force by the time U.S. forces landed on it.

Another very important detail which Hoyt gives in this chapter is the fact that Orote airfield on Guam was captured--usable--by U.S. forces on July 29, 1944. (Hoyt 271). He notes that Orote field was not seriously damaged, since "On July 29 [1944] the American flag was raised on Guam for the first time since 1941, above the ruins of the old Marine barracks on Orote. Planes began landing on the Orote Peninsula airfield." (Hoyt 271).

Hoyt tells the fate of the Japanese commanders on Guam. General Takeshima, the military commander of Guam only, was killed by machine-gunners on a U.S. tank on July 28, 1944.(Hoyt 270-8). Upon his death, General Obata, the Japanese over-all commander in the Marianas, who would normally have been on Saipan, assumed direct command of Japanese forces on Guam.(Hoyt 270-8).

The fact that Obata was on Guam rather than Saipan is an important one. It seriously reinforces the possible allegation that George Bush illegally acted as a courier in behalf of the standard Oil company to the Japanese during World War 2--a charge I heard made one time only in an ad that I heard on my car radio in Houston in the fall of 1980. (See "Listening To the Radio in Houston, 1980" in the present book for more details on that incident.) Hoyt tells us that, as of August 10, 1944, General Obata was still alive and sending his last message direct to the Emperor of Japan. (274-5). The following day he committed suicide. (Hoyt 275).

This latter fact of Obata's being on Guam rather than Saipan is important because it may help to explain how fast the Emperor and the Cabinet in Japan may have gotten word of the arrival of Bush (the Standard Oil/Dulles courier) on Guam on June 19, 1944. Obata was there from June 19, 1944 (Carano, Paul. The Complete History of Guam. Rutland, VT: 1964, C.E. Tuttle, 295). This means Obata was sending messages directly to the Emperor from Guam as early as June 19, 1944.

We now know that Hideki Tojo, a Japanese "hawk," was forced to resign from the Japanese cabinet on July 22, 1944. (This, according to Robert J.C. Butow in his book Tojo and the Coming of the War, (Stanford: UP, 1961. 430-2.) This was a mysterious move that replaced him with "doves," seemingly in response to some diplomatic move by the United States. This cabinet reshuffling suggests that a message direct from Obata to the Emperor may have been the cause. Intriguingly, however, the Roosevelt Administration hadn't authorized any offering of a negotiated settlement with Japan during this time. (See also "TOJO OUT: The Mysterious Japanese Cabinet Shuffle of July, 1944" in the present book for more details on this.)

It is interesting to note here as well that, while Forrestal was on Saipan (according to Devine) during this time period, the Japanese commander was still alive and still capable of sending messages directly to the Emperor of Japan. This detail is important in building my "case" against George Bush, in keeping with a radio ad I heard in Houston one afternoon in the fall of 1980. According to the ad, a book had been published which purported to prove that the "vice-presidential candidate" (at that time, George Bush) had landed his plane on an enemy-held island and delivered a message to the Japanese, apparently for Standard Oil. I only heard the ad once, and the ad, book and all disappeared, requiring me years to find them again. (See "Listening To the Radio In Houston, 1980," in the present book.)

Wesley Marvin Bagby, in The Eagle Dragon Alliance: America's Relations with China in World War II, (Newark: Associated UP, 1992), in his Chapter 7, "The Kuomintang On the Ropes," addresses the intrigues and disputes that occurred between U.S. and Nationalist Chinese commanders and political leaders in the months of from February 1944 to February 1945. During this time, a major Japanese offensive occurred, which is reported on here. Details are given about the views and activities of Chiang kai Shek, General Joseph Stillwell, President Franklin Roosevelt, and a host of other major figures in the arena at the time, including U.S. Ambassador to China Patrick Hurley. In discussing the Japanese offensive that occurred in North China during this time frame, Bagby lists the objectives attained by the Japanese offensive.

He also details how Chiang kai Shek essentially betrayed his own fellow Chinese generals and seems to have arranged a secret deal with the Japanese behind FDR's back. Bagby discusses herein the reasons Chiang kai Shek was more afraid of the Communists under the command of Mao-tse-Tung than he was of the Japanese during this time. He discusses how Chiang had also come to distrust Washington because of its attempts to work with Mao's guerrilla army in Northern China in fighting against the Japanese. A final major topic covered is the pressure on FDR from Chiang kai Shek to fire Stilwell. (Bagby123-37).

I think the major reaction I had to this information was one of shock and maybe disgust for the Chinese Nationalist and American commanders of Allied forces in Northern China as they sought to block the major Japanese offensive, called the Ichigo offensive. The dates as to when these things occurred, however, were equally important to me, since they helped me to frame the general goings-on in the Pacific as regarded Chiang's secret deals with the Japanese.

Hundreds of thousands of Chinese boys were killed and seventeen major, expensive United States air bases were captured by the Japanese during this offensive. (Bagby 133). And it is a virtual certainty that a good part of their success was directly attributable to Chiang's having made a deal with them. (Bagby 133-4). The type of common alliance against Communism he was attempting at that point resembled the one that Dulles was seeking the carve out in the European theater, also behind FDR's back.(Bagby 134).

Chiang, it seems, had become somewhat paranoid that his fellow Chinese generals were in a plot of some sort against him, and was prepared to sacrifice them to the Japanese because of this.(Bagby 132). He saw to it, for example, that the North China armies were not supplied or resupplied adequately during the major Ichigo Offensive.(Bagby 132).

The chapter graphically illustrates the egos of the various men involved. Stillwell was determined to prove Chiang wrong about the idea of having major U.S. airbases in China. He was also determined to prove to him that he, Stillwell, was indispensible as an ally of the Chinese, since he could get U.S. supplies in to China faster than anyone else.

Chiang defied Stillwell on these points, because Stillwell tied them up with the idea that he, Stillwell, must be the top commander of all China's army. He also maintained that Chiang must be subordinate to him. Chiang could not accept this. So when the Japanese offensive began, Chiang at first refused to ask Stillwell for help. This allowed the Japanese to capture their first large chunk of territory of the offensive.

Chunk two was captured when Stillwell, in his own egotism, refused to help Chiang--or to offer to help. He saw to it that the North China armies were denied U.S. weapons. This resulted in their not being able to withstand the next stage of Japanese attacks.

Finally, Chunk Three was captured because Chiang didn't trust his fellow generals and because Stillwell was also determined to be "over" Claire Chennault, the U.S. general in charge of Chiang's air force. To do this, Stillwell refused to authorized shipments of weapons and resupplies to the forces defending the huge new U.S. airbases in Northern China. As a result, these latter fell to the Japanese--although, given the way Chiang was betraying his own officers and dealing with the Japanese secretly, it is highly likely that they would have fallen anyway.

Bagby, in his Chapter 6, "Americans Contact the Communists," describes how top-ranking American diplomats and generals began to make more contacts with the Chinese Communist forces under Mao-tseTung. He describes how much more effective the Chinese Communists were against the Japanese forces in China. And he gives dates as to the visits of top American officials, such as Vice-President Henry A. Wallace, to visit and attempt to arrange a coalition of forces with, Mao tse Tung's communist forces.(Bagby 104-23).

After reading this chapter, I felt that there must have been a major failure to communicate between Washington and China. I sensed strongly and resentfully that this gap was manipulated by those attempting to use Chiang kai Shek's distrust of Washington to their own ends. I came away with more than a mild sense that Chiang was rapidly ceasing to be an ally of the United States in its war with Japan.

Because every step made in the direction of Mao by the United States was seen by Chiang as a threat, the U.S. was playing with fire in trying to help and work with Mao against the Japanese. It is clear to me that Chiang was the classic "mysterious Oriental." He kept his true feelings about Roosevelt's communications with Mao to himself. Only rarely did he blow up and threaten to leave his alliance with America.

But it is clear to me that, even though he didn't threaten this very often, he did very often act on it. He made sure that any step Washington made in Mao's direction was answered by a step by him into Japan's direction. And, while Bagby doesn't say so here, it is clear to me by putting this chapter of his book into the context of my other sources that not only the Japanese, but the Standard Oil/Allen Dulles OSS people were also trying to manipulate Chiang's distrust of Washington.

This all came to a head at about the time of Vice-President Henry Wallace's trip to China on June 20, 1944. (Bagby 107-11). Subsequently, on July 22, 1944, a military delegation headed by American generals made its way to Mao's headquarters. (Bagby 112). There is little doubt in my mind, based on what Bagby says here, that this event finalized a rift between Chiang and FDR over Mao.

I feel a great sadness when I think how the egos of men must so often cost the lives of their fellow men. And I feel an even deeper sense that the time frame here, which matches so closely to that of Bush's plane going down off (or on?) Guam on June 19, 1944, must be closely looked at. This must deepem a feeling of suspicion, even more give a sense that we haven't been told the whole truth about World War 2 yet.

Bagby, in his Chapter 9, "Hurley Takes Charge," deals with the activities of U.S. Ambassador to China Patrick Hurley, as he replaced General Joseph Stillwell as the Roosevelt Administration's leading spokesman to the regime of Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek of China during World War II. It describes his background and gives information about his views before his stint as China Ambassador, and also his views are illustrated at the time of his taking this position. (Bagby 155-69).

Hurley was an original follower of Herbert Hoover. Subsequently, some viewed him as somewhat progressive (unlike Hoover), but it is unclear to me that this was the case. I find myself becoming suspicious of his views on China issues. And this is reinforced by the information which Bagby gives us about Hurley's views on Chiang's power in China.

For example, Hurley doesn't strike me, after reading this chapter, as the sort of person who would have had a big problem with Chiang's dictatorial powers. He didn't seem to be particulary the sort of person, either, who objected strongly to Chiang's secret police chief, Tai Li, who publicly admitted that he admired Heinrich Himmler and regarded him as a role model.

Bagby describes Hurley somewhat charitably, I believe. I base this on the way he equally charitably describes other "characters" from this period. He doesn't attempt too strongly to judge any one person. But he clearly has views on the subject, and occasionally in this chapter I detected that he was somewhat not the fan of Hurley.

Hurley, Bagby tells us, was anxious to manipulate Chiang's mistrust of FDR's first choice as liaison to Chiang, General Joseph Stillwell. (Bagby 156: "State Department East Asian experts said that Hurley overemphasized support for Chiang.") He wanted to ensure that he made a "good impression" on Chiang, getting in his good graces while Stillwell was steadily falling further from them.

Based on what Bagby tells me about Hurley, I am not, therefore, surprised to learn that he was somewhat glad that FDR fired Stillwell. To him, it was an opportunity to exploit--a promotion. But to U.S. soldiers in China, it probably meant more young mens' deaths than would have been the case had Stillwell remained at the military helm instead of Chiang. Chiang's ego required that he be "in command." But he wasn't the competent general that Stillwell was.

When I think of it this way, the slick-tongued Hurley appears to be a traitor, anyway (even aside from his suspicious ties to Allen Dulles at this point). He was less concerned about U.S. casualties in the field than he was about his own position of power and prestige in the U.S. administration. Again we have an example of that disgusting egotism which is so prevalent in the men Bagby describes in this book.

Edwin P. Hoyt, in To the Marianas, Chapter 20, "Saipan Continued," gives further detail about the American campaign to capture the Marianas, focussing primarily on the island of Saipan. It gives the dates and approximate times of major military activities including drives and the capture of major objective. It gives details of the geography of the island of Saipan as well. (Hoyt 184-207)

What a horrible, bloody thing war is! I suppose words like that can almost sound cliché or bland, since they are used so much. But I didn't read this book for enjoyment. The detail Hoyt goes into here is useful in determining how likely it was that Aslito Field was used by U.S. aircraft before about June 30 to July 1, 1944. The detail given here ensures that the reader has no illusion as to how soon that airfield was usable by U.S. forces.(Hoyt 200). The Japanese forces launched a counter-attack after waiting until the U.S. Construction Battalions ("Seabees") had completely refitted the captured airfield. (Hoyt 193-201). Only then did the Japanese counter-attack, destroying Seabee construction and repair equipment in the process.(Hoyt 193-201).

Needless to say, this ensured that U.S. planes weren't able to use Aslito Field until about June 27-30, 1944. This kind of detailed information has added to my sense that I'm "onto something" pertaining to the allegation about Bush. I keep having this feeling of having picked up the end of a thread and continuing to unravel it.

With this chapter, Hoyt gives the reader a sense of the feelings of the U.S. forces during the long campaign on Saipan. With the capture of Saipan, U.S. planes would be in bombing distance of the Japanese homeland, so the Japanese fought desperately. They didn't want American bombers to be able to hit their homeland. So the Japanese on Saipan were probably more highly-motivated than even their fellows on other islands.

The Japanese soldier was a fanatic. He died in numbers and in circumstances seldom seen in warfare. One gets a sense of the sheer disgust of U.S. forces in having to "clean out" fanatic snipers, sappers and "banzai" charges. As the campaign progressed, the fighting became more irrational. The Japanese, once they realized they had failed in their mission to protect their homeland from U.S. bombers, attacked suicidally. In other words, they were literally committing suicide by attacking machine gun positions, and so forth, head on.

Hoyt makes it clear, however, that most of their attacks were planned with some objective in mind. And their commanders are shown by him to be competent planners working with very limited resources.

I couldn't help thinking how, by the time of the fall of Saipan in 1944, the shoe was completely on the other foot from how it had been when Bataan and Corregidor had fallen to the Japanese early in the war, in May 1942. Then, the Japanese had shown no mercy to their American POW captives. In the fighting on Saipan, it was perhaps only in keeping with their brutal training that they expected little compassion from the Americans.

For the young men who were in our military at that time, dealing with this suicidal behavior of the Japanese soldiers must have been truly a traumatic experience.

Finally, Hoyt begins a discussion of how American commanding officers began to be blamed during this period of time for the heavy casualties. He compassionately points out that this was not something any one officer can be blamed for. He made me care that this fact be understood. And again I felt a certain resentment rise up in me as I thought of Allen Dulles, Standard Oil and others--including George Bush--who might have been trying to manipulate these events for their own purposes, possibly causing more casualties than would have occurred had they not engaged in their "back door diplomacy."

Works Cited:

Bagby, Wesley; Marvin. The Eagle-Dragon Alliance: America's Relations With China in World War II. Cranbury, NJ: Associated UP, 1992

Butow, Robert J.C. Tojo and the Coming of the War. Stanford: UP, 1961

Carano, Paul. Complete History of Guam. Rutland: Tuttle, 1964

Devine, Thomas E. Eyewitness: The Amelia Earhart Incident. Frederick, CO: Renaissance House, 1987

Hoyt, Edwin P. To the Marianas: War in the Central Pacific. New York: Avon, 1980

Click on "Back" (above) to return to the Tim, George Bush and Me Table of Contents on the George Bush-Undercurrents Website.