The Pacific

Hell was always an ocean away

Lt. Micheel

                                                                                                                                                                                                 Vernon "Mike" Micheel

      Vernon Micheel, an instrumental character in the book, The Pacific, was also an instrumental character in World War Two. Lieutenant Vernon “Mike” Micheel was born on August 20, 1917, and had just entered flight school when World War Two began . Micheel was a dairy farmer from Iowa who volunteered for flight school at the beginning of the war. After graduating, he was stationed aboard the USS Enterprise, one of the few aircraft carriers the Navy had at that time. The USS Enterprise was also one of the ships that engaged the Japanese fleet during the battle of Midway. During this battle, Micheel flew his Dauntless dive bomber with expertise, landing several direct hits on Kaga class aircraft carriers. In another battle at Manila Bay, he was recommended for the Distinguished Flying Cross, which he later received.

 

     Mike decided to be a dive bomber because he thought he would get more airtime that way. He joined Scouting Six aboard the USS Enterprise, and distinguished himself from the rest of the Naval pilots in no time at all. Mike played a key role in the Battle of Midway. This battle was the biggest of the war thus far and proved to be a crucial point in the war. For his actions during the Battle of Midway Mike received the Navy Cross, which is the highest award that can be bestowed upon anyone in the Navy. After the battle the Enterprise was damaged and had to go back to the United States for repairs. This caused Mike and the rest of his squadron to join the “Cactus Air Force” on Guadalcanal.

      

      After Midway, the Dauntless dive bomber was made obsolete, and the SB2C took its place. The SB2C, or "Beast" as it was called by the pilots, had many performance issues, which led to it to being replaced. By the time of the battle of Peleliu, Mike was the squadron leader of a wing of the revolutionary fighter bombers. He helped to pioneer the shift away from the dysfunctional SB2C, and changed the face of naval air combat permanently. He led his wing to great affect destroying many targets of opportunity. By the end of the war, Mike was awarded four Air medals, a gold star, a presidential unit citation and a Distinguished Flying Cross. He was also recommended for a second Navy Cross for his service on Guadalcanal.


                                           Setting

        The Pacific mostly takes place on and around a series of islands in the Western Pacific. It is on these islands that the fighting takes place. These islands include; Guadalcanal, The Philippines, Saipan, Peleliu, Iwo Jima, and finally, Okinawa. The soldiers had to storm many beaches during the campaign and the Allied Forces used a technique known as “Island hopping”, where they would capture one island at a time and work their way up to Japan. There are also smaller parts of the plot that take place in Australia, where the soldiers rest between battles, and also where the Allied Pacific Campaign is managed from. Some smaller parts of the plot takes place on the Continental United States. These parts include when Lt. Micheel’s goes to flight school and is stationed in the United States for a short time and when John Basilone helps recruit for the marines after he received the Medal of Honor. Also, background before the war started takes place in Alabama. Pearl Harbor is discussed briefly, but no extensive plot line takes place in Pearl Harbor.

Micheel's fighter bomber squadron

An SB2C over China after the war