View images taken from Saipan, the second largest island in a cluster in the South Pacific known as the Northern Mariana Islands. It was a key position for the Japanese during World War II. As U.S. forces drove back the Japanese presence in the South Pacific, they met in Saipan in 1944 during a brutal and costly battle. Japanese soldiers were prepared to die defending the island. The island’s air bases would be critical for the B-29 bombers the U.S. planned to use to reach the Japanese mainland. U.S. Marines would prevail and take the island less than a month after the battle began.