The photojournalism piece “Vanguard of Doom,” included in the publication The United States Marines No. 4, focused on the brutal campaign for Saipan. The foreboding title is accompanied by a series of pictures of Marines trudging through rubble, with fires blazing in the background.
The photos attest to the tenacity of the battle, but rather than framing the fighting as a hard-fought battle between two dedicated and heroic sides, the captions repeatedly frame Japanese defenses as fanatic, stubborn, and cowardly. Alongside a photo of a Marine throwing a grenade into a cave, the piece reads, “Stubborn Nips, as usual, held out to their bitter end on Saipan, and the Marines had to pry and blast the tenacious little fanatics from countless holes and crannies.”[^] This caption acknowledged the tenacity of the Japanese, while ultimately stealing any credit or honor by calling them “little fanatics” rather than gallant or heroic, as Americans in similar situations were often labeled.[^] The fanaticism label completely turns the situation on its head, taking any independence away from the Japanese men, making them mindless followers, non-heroically sacrificing themselves.