Saipan’s WWII Legacy

The WWII battle of Saipan in the Mariana Islands (June 15-July 9, 1944) is a multidimensional conflict site that involved two world powers, Japan and the United States, and hundreds of civilians from multiple ethic backgrounds including Chamorro, Carolinian, Korean, Japanese, and Okinawan.

The months leading up to the battle, the weeks of combat, and its long-lasting aftermath deeply affected those who willingly participated and those who did not. Thousands of civilians and soldiers were killed, families uprooted, lands lost, crops devastated, and the very fabric of the landscape and seascape permanently altered.

The cultural heritage of the battle of Saipan has been the focus of a large-scale archaeological project from 2007to the present, led by Dr. Jennifer F. McKinnon. The project has involved researchers from Ships of Discovery, Flinders University, and East Carolina University together with many other individuals and organizations who partnered or assisted. The work was partially funded by multiple National Park Service American Battlefield Protection Program grants and a NOAA Pacific Region Cooperative grant. The research has also benefited from a great deal of in-kind support and funding. The ongoing research as resulted in numerous presentations and articles as well as a book, Underwater Archaeology of a Pacific Battlefield: The WWII Battle of Saipan (Jennifer F. McKinnon and Toni L. Carrell, editors).

Among other results is the first underwater heritage trail in the islands, interpretive guide posters, a 17-minute interpretive public outreach video, a series of public service announcements in support of cave preservation entitled This is Our History, These are Our Stories, 3D modeling of underwater sites, a student created virtual museum tour, and investigations of the condition of the underwater sites through in-situ conservation studies. Follow the links to learn more about these efforts.