The 75th anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal during World War Two has been commemorated with a dawn ceremony at the United States war monument in the Solomon Islands’ capital.
Hundreds stood in the rain in Honiara including representatives from the governments of the United States and Japan, as well as the armed forces of the US, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
Two veterans of the conflict were honoured guests at the service.
US Marines landed at Japanese-occupied Guadalcanal on August 7, 1942, the start of a long and bloody battle. The Allied victory in February 1943 halted Japan’s push toward Australia, and proved to be the turning point of the war in the Pacific.
The site of some of the fiercest fighting in Guadalcanal, Bloody Ridge, will be declared a national park by the Solomon Islands government today, as part of the anniversary.
The ceremony included a flyover by the US Coast Guard, a wreath-laying, and a eulogy to fallen soldiers.
US Ambassador to the Solomon Islands Catherine Ebert Gray said the spoils of war were in this case “a lifetime of peace” for the inhabitants of the Solomon Islands.
“We must never forget the sacrifice made by those who died for the cause of freedom,” she said.
US Marine Corps Commandant General Robert B Neller said a visit to Guadalcanal had long been on his bucket list.
“This battleground holds such significance to the Marines, and to me personally,” he said.
“It’s holy ground.”
The monument, which opened in 1992, includes a plaque for the “Unknown Warrior”, the remains of an American serviceman uncovered during its construction.
The remains were later identified as Sergeant John Branic of the US Marines, and were moved to Arlington National Cemetery.
A Japanese monument commemorating the Battle of Guadalcanal was unveiled in Honiara in 1980. AAP