As war in the Pacific began, the Japanese Empire had a string of heavily-fortified defensive positions from the Marshall and Caroline Islands in the Central Pacific to New Britain and New Ireland in the Southwest Pacific.
Following the battle of Midway, the United States began a series of offensive actions and gradually captured a number of key islands including Betio in Tarawa Atoll and Roi-Namur, Eniwetok, Majuro, and Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands. However, this selective capture and occupation of key islands, know as "Island Hopping," presented a problem since many strongly defended Japanese outposts still remained. As U.S. supply lines were vulnerable to attack from these bases, it became necessary to render them ineffective by maintaining air superiority and preventing the garrisons on these islands from being re-supplied. This was the situation, as illustrated on the map below, when VMB-613 arrived in the Central Pacific in December of 1944.
Marine Bombing Squadron Six-Thirteen's primary area of operations in the Central Pacific was the Marshall Islands, located about 2,000 miles west of Hawaii. The Marshall Islands consist of numerous atolls divided into two groups running essentially from northwest to southeast. The western chain, known as the Ralik (Sunset) Chain, consists of the principal atolls of Kwajalein, Jaluit, Bikini, Eniwetok, Ailinglapalap, and Rongelap. The eastern or Ratak (Sunrise) Chain consists of the principal atolls of Mille, Maleolap, Majuro, Arno, Wotje, and Liliep. In addition to the Marshall Islands, Marine Bombing Squadron Six-Thirteen also conducted operations in the Gilbert Islands, the East Caroline Islands, and from Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands.
A brief description of key islands and atolls relating to VMB-613's operations in the Central Pacific may be viewed by clicking the links below.