August 7, 1942, was a historic day for men on both sides of the battle lines in the south Pacific. On that day, United States Marines first hit the beaches on Guadalcanal and were soon confronted by men of the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy.
Saburo Sakai, one of the Japanese navy’s leading aces left Rabaul that morning on what would be his most challenging mission. Arriving over Guadalcanal, Sakai quickly joined in combat with Grumman F4F Wildcats and then with Douglas SBDs. As he attacked the SBDs, which put up a strong defense, his A6M2 Zero suddenly was met by a hail of bullets. Sakai was blinded and fought to maintain control of his aircraft. With only fleeting vision in one eye, he headed to the northwest and through a combination of intuition, flying skill, will power and sheer luck managed to find his way to his home base.
Sakai is Japan’s greatest living ace and is well known to Americans as the author of “Samurai,” an account of his World War II combat experiences.
Together with the artist Jay Ashurst, each print has been signed by legendary Japanese fighter Ace:
Navy Lieutenant SABURO SAKAI – 64 aerial victories
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