World War II
The Philippine Sea

The Philippine Sea
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 9
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.24

     challenging words:    airpower, launches, withdraw, aligned, military, inflict, weaken, favor, attempt, threat, navy, aircraft, power, defense, battle, early
     content words:    Pearl Harbor, Pacific Ocean, Coral Sea, Central Pacific, Mariana Islands, American Pacific, On June, Admiral Spruance, Fifth Fleet, Japanese Zero

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The Philippine Sea
By Jane Runyon

1     During the early 1940's, Japan believed it had the most powerful military force in the world. Their combined air force and navy had crippled the American fleet at Pearl Harbor. They had managed to take control of every island they found in the Pacific Ocean. Their feelings began to change in late 1942 and 1943. The American force had recovered from their trouncing and had taken an attack mode. They had stopped the Japanese attempt to take over the outer perimeter of Australia. They had stopped the Japanese fleet at Midway and the Coral Sea. The Japanese navy and air force had suffered obvious losses at the hand of their enemy.
2     By September of 1943, the leaders of the Japanese military realized that they were going to have to completely destroy the American fleet, or they would themselves be destroyed. It was their plan to take on the Americans in one decisive battle to end the Allied threat. They wanted to catch the fleet by surprise as they tried to take over an island in the Central Pacific. If they were lucky, the Americans would strike an island that was close to Japanese air bases. The Japanese would then be able to send all of their air power into the battle. They watched and waited. They hoped the American fleet would head to the Palaus or Carolines. There was no such luck for the Japanese. Instead, the Americans decided to head for the Mariana Islands. This was much farther away from the Japanese sources of fuel and land based aircraft.
3     The Japanese decided that it was now or never. They prepared to destroy the American Pacific fleet wherever it was. On June 15, 1944, Allied troops began landing on the island of Saipan. On that same day, American submarines first spotted the Japanese fleet in the same area. On June 18 and 19 it was reported that the ship carrying the Japanese commander was just 350 miles away. The American commander, Admiral Spruance, kept his ships together. He didn't want the Japanese to be able to separate his forces and weaken his defense. Spruance set out with the entire Fifth Fleet to hold off the enemy.

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