A National Geographic Channel program airing Sunday, April 27, at 7 p.m. was made with assistance from the New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Springs.
The program revisits July 7, 1944, when 4,000 Japanese soldiers launched the largest suicide charge of World War II against the New York National Guard's 105th Infantry Regiment during the fight for the Island of Saipan. The program is part of National Geographic Channel's Day Under Fire: WWII series.
The Military Museum provided the production team from Kurtis Productions with photographs, oral histories made by veterans of the 105th, a unit organized in New York's Capital Region; and also put them in touch with survivors of the fight, said Michael Aikey, the museum's director.
Two of those veterans, Troy residents Nick Grinaldo and Sammy Dinova, who joined the New York National Guard's 27th Division together, are featured in the production.
In December, Grinaldo was awarded the New York State Conspicuous Service Star in recognition of the role he played in this pivotal World War II campaign.
The Battle for Saipan was one of the most decisive battles fought in the Pacific during World War II. The island, within bombing range of every valuable target on Japan, was key to an American victory in the Pacific.
"Day Under Fire: WWII" begins three weeks into the battle on July 6. By that time, all indications are that the Americans are within reach of taking control. The Japanese Army of 30,000 soldiers has been reduced to a few thousand, at most.
On that night, the First Battalion of 105th Infantry Regiment under the command of Lt. Col. William O'Brien of Troy is dug in at the north end of the island. Among those on the front lines are Staff Sgt. Grinaldo and PFC Dinova, childhood friends from Troy.