Bora Bora during WWII

By Viator, July 2012

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After the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States chose the island of Bora Bora to be one of their strategic military bases for the Pacific theater. They stocked the tiny island with ships, equipment, an airstrip and over 7,000 soldiers. Given the covert name “Operation Bobcat,” the island never saw any combat and remained uncontested throughout the conflict. The base was closed in 1946 but locals still look back on the time fondly.

Although the army has long since pulled out, its influence is still felt on the island; and not just in the 19 mile (30.6 kilometer) road it built around the island or the now defunct international air strip. Many of the GI's declined to leave the island paradise after the war and you can still meet many American ex-pats and their half-American/half-Polynesian descendants. The locals have a long-lasting love of American lingo like “swell” and “okay,” and a serious passion for the canned meat products provided by the Army.
If you want to experience Bora Bora's WWII past, the biggest remnant sights are the eight enormous artillery canons sitting at the base of Mount Otemanu. The canons were never fired and are quietly rusting under the tropical sun. Nearby, a few military bunkers are being slowly reclaimed by the tenacious jungle. The best way to experience the war's cultural legacy, though, is with a big tin of Spam.

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