A Mixed Landing: Warm Greetings and Logistical Problems 

 

The six ships carrying the 198th Regiment landed on Bora Bora on the 17th of February, 1942, twenty-one days after they set sail from Charleston. Their orders were to defend the naval base that was to be established there. When the men set foot on land, they were on high alert for a Japanese Attack, but instead they were met by a warm welcome from the native Bora Boran people. Setting up the base proved difficult because of the hurried way that they had packed the ship in Charleston. Critically-needed items had been loaded first and so at the time of unloading they were buried deep underneath thousands of pounds of secondary items. This faux pas would be an intense learning experience for the 198th and the U.S. military. The logistic lessons learned from this misstep early in the war would be vital for the success of future operations.

Photograph of the Bora Boran people coming to greet the men of the 198th on their canoes when the Americans first arrived on the island. For them, the 198th’s presence meant a huge new impact on their community. Credit: Photographer unidentified member of the 198th, 1942. Delaware Military Museum Archives.

The 198th Regiment deployed with all of their artillery pieces and equipment  in the bowels of the ship. They also brought massive amounts of fuel, food, housing, and building supplies, along with their weapons. Credit: Photographer unidentified member of the 198th, 1942. Delaware Military Museum Archives.

Two Soldiers turn palm trees into telephone poles.  The prefab quonset hut stands in stark contrast to the swaying native palm trees of Bora Bora.  The Tropics represent two different worlds coming together.  In contrast to Delaware’s climate, the tropical climate and environment. Photographer unknown, 1942. Delaware Military Museum Archives.