………for very little except the following;
New Guinea, an innocent bystander, found itself plumb in the path of Japanese expansionist forces during World War 2.
Closely followed by Australia's defense response, and a massive United States military presence, both of which combined with loyal Papuans and New Guineans to eventually achieve the formal Japanese surrender at Wewak in September 1945.
The US does not pussyfoot around when it comes to conducting warfare.
Nor does it spend much time dusting the shelves or vacuuming under the beds when it comes time to leave.
At Finschhafen, a major base for US forces in New Guinea, massive amounts of infrastructure, stores and machinery were simply bulldozed off the end of the isthmus into the ocean, leaving behind only two things.
1. Cleared earth.
2. A wonderful opportunity for an enterprising Australian businessman to almost immediately hoist everything back out of the sea, and, in very short order become a millionaire ship and aircraft owner from the proceeds of selling scrap metal.
Twenty years after the war, as a rural village development worker I was eternally grateful to the Americans for providing a seemingly limitless supply of marsden matting, (perforated steel sheeting used to surface military aircraft landing strips) 44 gallon drums, wire rope of all dimensions, and steel culvert pipes.
These resources were used for good purposes building houses, suspension foot bridges over deep gorges, copra driers, and village smallholder pig and poultry projects.
Now, living my own low-key bush lifestyle in Australia, I miss not having access to marsden matting.
K Mart continually ignores my requests to stock it.
Surely there must be some surplus in Iraq or Afghanistan that they could get hold of if they were really interested in customer service.
As a sobering byline I wish to present the following figures to illustrate the utter futility of war and the waste of human life.
300,000 militarily brainwashed young Japanese men took part in the New Guinea invasion.
60,000 died in battle.
110,000 died from tropical diseases and starvation.
The remainder surrendered.
For what result? Absolutely nothing!