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The Corps of Engineers; the war against…
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The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 found the Corps of Engineers, like the rest of the Military Establishment, in the midst of feverish defense preparations. The Corps had been assigned the task of building up defenses in Panama, Alaska, Hawaii, and other Pacific outposts; in areas ranging from the Arctic to the tropics, engineer units were engaged in a wide variety of urgent projects. Plagued by shortages of men and materials and difficult working conditions, these defense preparations were still far from finished when the nation was plunged into war. Along with these desperate efforts to build a bulwark on many fronts, the engineers were engaged in the vital mission of creating an organization and developing equipment that would enable them to carry out their many duties on the battlefronts and behind the lines in case war broke out. By the time of Pearl Harbor much progress had been made in the relatively short time since the defense build-up began. The story of the pre-
Pearl Harbor defense preparations is one of an effort gradually getting under way from small beginnings and destined eventually to assume tremendous proportions.
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Contributions of the Corps of Engineers to victory in war, and to our country's peacetime history, are well known and appreciated. The skill and versatility of this talented body of soldiers met a supreme test in operations against the Japanese, many of which were conducted in the most primitive and undeveloped regions of the world. Engineers built the Alaska Highway, Canol, and the Ledo Road in Burma. They cleared the jungles to build airfields for heavy bombers and supervised the work of Filipinos, Chinese, and Melanesians as they built runways by hand. They built ports, roads, and docks where none had existed. Indeed, one of the most familiar recollections of the U.S. veteran of the war against Japan is the ubiquitous engineer operating a bulldozer. Dr. Dod's subject is vast and varied, and he has worked hard and capably to fit it into the confines of a single volume. He has made an original contribution to knowledge in the highly technical areas of Engineer problems, organization, equipment, supply, administration, and operations.
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