On August 7, 1942, US Marines landed at Lunga Point on the island of Guadalcanal in the Solomons group. Their immediate objective was the seizure of a partially completed airfield, later finished by the US military and renamed Henderson Field in honor of USMC Major Lofton Henderson who was killed during the Battle of Midway. Along with landings on Tulagi and Florida Islands, the campaign was designed to take Japanese pressure off New Guinea and secure communications lines between Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.

This set off an epic struggle of heroism and savagery that when it concluded on February 9, 1943 had claimed the lives of about 38,000 men and caused the loss of 67 ships and some 1300 aircraft on both sides.