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August 19, 1942: Guadalcanal; the Battle of the Tenaru River

Truman Project and Center for National Policy

Caught by surprise when the Marines invaded Guadalcanal two weeks prior, the battle at the Tenaru River was the Japanese Army’s first attempt to re-capture Henderson Field and drive the Marines off the island. Despite the gritty and determined Marine defense of Wake Island, the Japanese Army continued to underestimate the Marine Corps fighting ability; after all did the Americans not choose the humiliation of surrender rather than a warrior’s death at Bataan and Corregidor?

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