|Battle of Okinawa
by Laura Lacey
Beginning in April of 1945, over fifty years ago on an island in the Pacific,
American and Japanese men fought and killed each other as never before. Caught
in the crossfire between these warring powers were the native inhabitants of
Okinawa. The battle's significance has been lost despite the unprecedented
events that occurred during those eighty-two days.
The Battle of Okinawa is distinguished among battles, yet often unrecognized
when referring to the great battles of the Second World War. Over 250,000
people lost their lives. Approximately 150,000 Okinawans, about a third of the
population, perished. At the battle's end, somewhere between a third and
half of all surviving civilians were wounded. No battle during the Second
World War, except Stalingrad, had as massive a loss of civilian life. The
stakes were high. The Japanese, determined to fight to the last man, almost
achieved their objective, but in defeat 100,000 Japanese combatants died rather
than surrender. In the end, fewer than 10,000 of General Mitsuri Ushijimas's
Thirty-Second Army were taken prisoner.
United States loss of life was staggering as well. The United States Navy
sustained the largest loss of ships in its history with thirty-six lost and 368
damaged. The Navy also sustained the largest loss of life in a single battle
with almost 5,000 killed and an equal number wounded. At Okinawa, the United
States Tenth Army would incur its greatest losses in any campaign against the
Japanese. The Tenth Army, which initially was made up of 183,000 army, navy,
and marine personnel. During those eighty-two days, the Tenth Army
would lose 7,613 men and over 30,000 men would be evacuated from the front
lines for a minimum of a week due to wounds. Moreover, the largest
numbers of U.S. combat fatigue cases ever recorded would occur on Okinawa.
A new motivation existed for resistance in the bloody fighting in the Pacific.
The stakes had just become higher. Now in the spring of 1945, for the first
time, Japan's military machine began defending home territory. Although the
Japanese may not have seen the Okinawans as their equals, or even as Japanese,
the island had been their colonial possession. The Satsuma clan, a feudal
shoganate, had conquered the island during the seventeenth century and over the
centuries had subsequently impoverished the once wealthy kingdom.
Everyone involved, the Okinawans, the Japanese, and the Allies realized
that Okinawa, within 350 miles of Kyushu, the southern tip of mainland Japan,
would be the stepping-stone for the United States. Okinawa would be a
virtual 'springboard to victory' for the Allies. From Okinawa, the
Allies could launch an attack on the mainland by air or sea.
The Battle of Okinawa would generate many 'firsts' for the history books beyond
the first time that United States troops fought on Japanese soil. The battle
occurred during a time of unprecedented historical significance. The two
highest-ranking officers to die during the Second World War were the commanders
on Okinawa, General Mitsuri Ushijima and General Simon B. Buckner.
Furthermore, when General Roy Geiger, a Marine aviator, assumed temporary
command until General Joseph W. Stillwell arrived, it was the first time that a
Marine would command a fighting force as large as a field army.
The operation on Okinawa was named Operation Iceberg. It began on Okinawa on
April 1, 1945, Easter Sunday. The landing would be referred to as 'L Day' or
'Love Day' and perhaps in keeping with April Fools Day, the landing encountered
virtually no opposition. This lack of opposition was unexpected and
unprecedented. The Tenth Army itself was unique. With the combination of
Admiral Chester Nimitz and General Douglas MacArthur's forces, a joint task
force had been assembled. Not just a U.S. joint task force, but one that
included Great Britain. The British Task Force, commanded by Vice Admiral Sir
Bernard Rawlings, turned over operational control to Admiral R.A. Sprunce, U.S.
Navy, Commander, Fifth Fleet. This combining of marines, soldiers,
and naval personnel created the largest group of Americans and Allies to land
in the Pacific, 548,000, before it was all over.
The United States Navy assembled an unprecedented armada in April of 1945, with
1,300 ships laying in wait off the coast of Okinawa. In fact, the
effort in the spring offensive of 1945 was far greater than the previous spring
offensive in Europe. During the Normandy invasion, the Allies had employed
150,000 troops, 284 ships, and 570,000 tons of supplies, all of which required
a very short supply line. On Okinawa, in Japan's back yard, maintaining the
supply line seemed an incomprehensible feat. In the invasion of Okinawa, there
were 183,000 troops, 327 ships, and 750,000 tons of supplies.
Events even larger than the life and death struggle on Okinawa occurred during
the spring of 1945. All of these events were common knowledge to the troops
fighting and those on the home front, and these events did shape contemporary
perspective regarding Okinawa. Ironically, because Okinawa is the final battle
of the Second World War, the war's end would obscure the battle's
accomplishments. In 1945, journalist Sid Moody of the Associated Press
summarized it best: 'Before Hiroshima there was Okinawa. Because of Okinawa, in
considerable part there was Hiroshima.' Okinawa lost its place in
history in part because of Hiroshima.
Other events also contributed to the neglect of Okinawa in the public memory of
World War II. In February 1945, the Battle of Iwo Jima raged. The loss of life
and the willingness of the Japanese to fight to the last man were beyond the
comprehension of most Americans. Trying to grasp the loss of life that bloody
spring in the Pacific was just too painful for the American populace. On Iwo
Jima by noon, March 2, 1945, Americans had counted 7,127 enemy dead and only
thirty-two prisoners were taken. On March 9-10, 1945, the massive
bombardment of American incendiary bombs destroyed much of Tokyo.
Five days after Love Day, the Soviet Union entered the war and joined the
Allies on the Pacific front. Twelve days after Love Day, April 12,
1945, Franklin D. Roosevelt died. Many of the young men fighting could remember
no other president. Nor did many of them know anything about their new
Commander-in-Chief, Harry S Truman. The famous war correspondent Ernie Pyle,
who so captured the hearts of troops in the foxhole and the imaginations of the
home front, would be killed early in the battle. On May 8, 1945,
while the men of the Sixth prepared to 'move out' and relieve the Army on the
southern end of Okinawa, the Germans surrendered. On July 2, 1945,
while the Sixth Marine Division rested, trained, and prepared for the expected
invasion of mainland Japan, the first Atomic Bomb would be detonated in New
Mexico. Now an alternative to invasion seemed possible. The morning
of August 6, 1945, an Atomic Bomb exploded over Hiroshima. Three days
later, Nagasaki suffered a similar fate. Japan finally bowed under
the weight of this new technology and in Tokyo Bay, aboard the USS Missouri on
September 2, 1945, the Second World. The Battle of Okinawa lost its place in
history because the history that was being made in 1945 was itself so
Military units fought bravely on Okinawa. The Tenth Army consisted of five Army
Divisions, the 77th, the 96th, the 27th, the 81st, and the 7th. Three Marine
Divisions fought on Okinawa, the 6th, the 2nd and the 1st. These divisions were
all supported by naval, amphibious, and tactical air forces.
In April 1945 Ernie Pyle joined the fight in the Pacific. He quickly became
acquainted with the Pacific Marines and tried to describe, 'Who they were.' He
wrote that their battles in the Pacific had been so fierce that his imagination
had turned them into men from Mars and that he was almost afraid of them.
Instead he found them 'confident but neither cocky or smart-aleckey. They had
fears, and qualms and hatred for the war the same as anybody else. They want to
go home as badly as any soldier I've ever met.' Pyle tried to
understand the minds of the Marines he had chosen to follow. He found them
young, sentimental, and compassionate, bowing to Okinawan civilians on the road
and adopting animals of all sorts as pets. They were Americans, with all the
contradictions that the word implies. He finally concluded that the 'marines do
not thirst for battles. I've read and heard enough about them to have no doubts
whatever about the things they can do when they have to. They are o.k. for my
money, in battle and out.' The same perhaps could be said for the
other Americans who participants in the campaign.
The Japanese on Okinawa were prepared for an invasion. As early as 1943, the
Ryukyus, the islands that make up Okinawa, had been part of the Japanese plan
of defense, the 'Absolute National Defense Zone.' Japan's
Thirty-Second Army came into being on March 22, 1944. In the
beginning, their mission was just to defend the Ryukyus, build airfields, and
help hold the 'Tojo Line' in the Central Pacific. As the situation deteriorated
for them, so did the infrastructure of the Japanese military machine. Arguments
over how to use assets created a situation in which General Ushijima's loss was
unavoidable. For the Japanese the objective of the campaign would
never be victory on Okinawa.
The Japanese knew they could not win, therefore their mission, jikyusen, became
a battle of attrition. For every man lost he must take ten Americans,
for every plane, a boat. The objective would be to destroy or at least delay
the U.S. Fleet. This would give the Japanese time to prepare the homeland. The
southern end of Okinawa seemed ideal for Ushijima's battle of attrition.
Honeycombed with caves that had for over a year been reinforced to create
interlocking defenses (often by conscripted labor), the southern end was easily
defended. Ridges and rocky embankments, trees and foliage, made it an easy
place to fight a battle of attrition. Delaying tactics and groups to slow the
Allies would be employed, but Ushijima's plan was always was a southern
standoff below the Shuri-Yonaburu line. Meanwhile, the U.S. fleet
would be supplying the troops on land, leaving them exposed to Japanese air and
naval attacks. This, argued Tokyo's leaders, would further slow the Allies
attack on the mainland.
At the beginning of the campaign, Ushijima would command approximately 110,000
men. Twenty thousand consisted of Okinawan Home Guard that supplemented the
Japanese Army made up of the 24th Division, 62nd Division, the 44th Independent
Mixed Brigade, the First, Second, Third, Twenty-sixth, Twenty-seventh,
Twenty-eighth, and the Twenty-ninth Independent Brigades. As a U.S. Special
Operations report prior to the invasion predicted, 'it can safely be assumed
that most of the troops entrusted with the defenses of Okinawa will be
Manchurian trained.' The Thirty-Second Army consisted of tough combat
veterans. Ushijima's artillery would be the heaviest concentration so
far encountered by the Allies in the Pacific. Furthermore, the
Thirty-Second Army had naval, amphibious, and air assets at its disposal.
The Battle of Okinawa became an important part of overall U.S. Pacific military
strategy. The goal of the Pacific campaign was to reach the 'industrial heart
of Japan,' southern Honshu between Shimonoseki and the Tokyo plain.
This strategy entailed taking successive steps towards mainland Japan,
which has been called 'island hopping' in the Pacific. One plan, code-named
'Operation Causeway, considered Formosa as the next island in the Pacific in
the spring of 1945. Allied occupation of Formosa would enable them to provide
support to China as well as establish air bases to bomb mainland Japan.
'Operation Iceberg' an alternative plan called for the invasion of the Ryukus,
the island chain that contains Okinawa. The Ryukus were within medium bomber
range of mainland Japan and would provide airfields for both bombers and
fighters. Okinawa would provide good anchorage, and the islands would help
establish support positions for the invasion of first, Kyushu, and eventually
The Formosa plan was rejected because military planners believed that the
island could be neutralized without an invasion. On October 5, 1944, Admiral
Chester W. Nimitz advised his command that the plan for Formosa had been
deferred and that General Douglas MacArthur would invade Luzon in December of
1944. Then the Pacific forces were to seize Iwo Jima on January 20, 1945 and
positions in the Ryukyus by March 1, 1945. 
The commanders for 'Operation Iceberg' would be Admiral Raymond Spruance and
Vice Admiral Marc Mitscher, Task Force 58; Vice Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner,
Task Force 51; and Lieutenant General Simon Bolivar Buckner, the Tenth Army.
Major General Roy S. Geiger would lead the 3rd Amphibious Corps with three
Marine Divisions, the 1st, 2nd, and 6th and four Army infantry divisions, the
24th Corps, made up of the 7th, 27th, 77th, and the 96th. The total
number of assault troops for the initial landing was estimated at 182,821
men. The landing, Love Day, would be April 1, 1945.
The campaign on Okinawa involved seven U.S. divisions, support units, and naval
assets. If one were telling the story of the Navy on Okinawa, the stories would
be about kamikazes and the largest loss of life in the U.S. Navy's history. The
Army would recount tales of places called Hacksaw, Ie Shima, the Pinnacle, and
Kakazu. The First Marine Division would remember Wana Draw, Shuri Castle, and
Kunishi. The Sixth Marine Division, however would be pivotal in the story on
However, the rest of this article will highlight the Sixth Marine Division,
because they were so essential and are credited with taking the majority of the
island of Okinawa. The Sixth Marine Division has a unique place in military,
especially Marine Corps history. Its place has been under-recognized in part
because, unlike most other divisions, the Sixth never reactivated after the
Second World War. The Sixth was formed on Guadalcanal in September of 1944
under the command of Major General Lemuel Shepard, a veteran of the First World
War, who had been commanding the First Marine Brigade on Guam. The
core of the Division was made up of battle-hardened Marines, some of whom were
veterans of Eniwetok, some of whom had fought on Saipan. These hardened
veterans of the Central and Western Pacific were augmented with replacement
troops newly arrived from the United States and by special troops such as
corpsman, reconnaissance, tanks, engineers, and other auxiliary units. 
This combination of the battle hardened and the untested created a new outfit,
the Sixth Marine Division. In addition to battle-hardened Marines, the Sixth
supplemented its ranks with Marines who had previously held stateside billets.
This became possible after 1943 when women Marines, the Women's Reserve, began
taking over clerical and other non-combat positions stateside. Their numbers
grew to 18,000, and this substantial expansion freed able-bodied men to go
overseas. The Commandant of the Marine Corps from 1944 to 1947, General
Alexander A. Vandegrift, said that the addition of women to the Corps accounted
for the ability to put 'the Sixth Marine Division in the field.' The
Division was composed of four regiments: The 15th Marines, which was the
artillery regiment and was comprised of artillery units previously attached to
other units; the former Raider Battalions, which became the 4th Marine
Regiment; the 29th Marine Regiment, which was brought up from battalion to
regimental strength; the 22nd Marine Regiment, which was the first Marine
regiment organized for independent duty after the United States entered the
war, completed the Sixth Marine Division. After training as a unit on
Guadalcanal for five months, they felt ready for the challenges that were in
their future. The Sixth, although a new division, entered the Battle of Okinawa
with more combat experience than any of the other Marine Divisions in their
Although few marines other than Shepherd knew the destination, the division had
been planning and training for a landing for months before their departure from
Guadalcanal in March 1945. After a rest and rendezvous stop at the Ulithi
atoll, in the Carolines, the division's briefings and preparation began in
The fleet began moving into place around the Ryukyu Island chain in March. The
first kamikaze assault of the Okinawan campaign occurred on March 18, 1945. The
navy began 'softening up' the island on March 21 with naval bombardment. The
'softening up' would make the landing easier for the assault troops when they
came ashore. Naval bombardments would remove walls, foliage, and other barriers
as well as kill troops. The Okinawan came to refer to the bombardment of
Okinawa as the 'Typhoon of Steel.' The Kerama Islands that were off the coast
of Okinawa were occupied March 25 through March 28 by members of the tenth
Army, which gave the Allies a place for fuel replenishment and pre-invasion
The landing began early on Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945. The first waves went
in at 8:30 am. The landings were to take place on the west coast of Okinawa on
the Hagushi beaches, known as Green Beach and Red Beach by the landing troops.
The plan called for U.S. forces to spread out and sever the island in two. The
Marines of the First and Sixth Divisions were to move west to east and then go
north. After landing, the Army headed south. On Love Day, the 2nd Marines were
to conduct a diversionary operation on the southern end of Okinawa. The
expected bloody landing never materialized. The Tenth Army strolled onto the
island with little opposition.
The left flank of the Tenth Army became the Sixth's zone of action. The 4th,
the 22nd, and the 15th regiments, the lead contingents for the Sixth, achieved
their first day's objective by 10:30 am. The Tenth Army controlled Yontan and
Kadena airfields. By that evening the 29th regiment, which had been held in
reserve and had not anticipated an Easter landing, were on land. Equipment and
60,000 troops were on shore by the end of the first day, which was beyond the
scheduled L-2 objective. By L-7, the Marines had secured Nago, Okinawa's second
largest city, and were headed further north. The division would run into
resistance on the Motobu Peninsula especially on the well-fortified positions
around Mount Yaedake in mid-April. Organized resistance on the northern
two-thirds of the island would end April 20. The Marine divisions thought their
However, word began to filter back that events were not going smoothly in the
south. The Army had mired down. The Army first ran into stiff opposition north
of Naha at a hill known as Kakazu. One of the Army units, the 27th, already had
a reputation for having preformed poorly in previous island fighting. Now the
Marines felt they were being ordered to bail them out. The Marine divisions
headed out and the First eventually broke through at Kakazu.
In April General Alexander Vandergrift, Marine Corps Commandant, visited the
island and discussed an amphibious assault on the southern end of the island
rather than Bunkner's plan of continued frontal assault. This has become a
major point of debate in the battle's history. The debate revolves around the
contention that a southern assault would have been less costly. Bunkner
prevailed and at the end of April, the Marines began replacing the Army on the
front lines. They were about to run head on into the Shuri-Yonaburu Line.
The Japanese military had been unsure of where the Allies might land next and
had removed troops from Okinawa to Formosa. This condemned the Thirty-Second
Army to fight a defensive battle. Rather than meeting the Tenth Army at the
beachhead, as in previous encounters, they would move to the Shuri-Yonburu
line, a high ridge that essentially cut the island in two, just north of Naha
on the eastern side of the island and its center the pride of the Okinawans,
Shuri Castle. The Thirty-second Army's goal was to inflict as much damage from
that spot as possible. From the walls of Shuri Castle, the Thirty-Second Army's
headquarters, Ushijima and his staff watched the Americans land. They
positioned their many guns, the Japanese soldiers dug interconnecting tunnels,
and they waited.
A problem for the Tenth Army would be the rain, which by May 9 had begun in
earnest. Everything became muddy. Moving supplies and equipment proved almost
impossible and often had to be accomplished hand-over-hand. Asa Kawa River
seemed to be the biggest obstacle between the Sixth Marine Division and Naha,
the capital of Okinawa. The river would be breeched by the 22nd regiment a yard
at a time. Then all that stood between the division and Naha were three
'insignificant' hills, Half Moon, Horseshoe and Sugar Loaf.
May 12 through May 18 would be filled with some of the most savage fighting in
Marine Corps lore. The Shuri-line cut the island in half east to west. It
consisted of mutually supported defensive positions, which consisted of mortar,
artillery, machine guns, and interconnected tunnel complexes. These tunnels, an
estimated sixty miles of interconnected passages, made movement and flanking
maneuvers easy for the Japanese. In addition, the Marines ran into what they
referred to as 'spider holes.' Flush with the ground and covered with brush or
dirt, these hideaways kept the men constantly vigilant about what might be
behind them. The Marines had found the flank of Ushijima's Shuri-line of
defense and the Japanese were unwilling to give it up without a tremendous
payment. Finally, under the cover of darkness, during a rainstorm, the remnants
of the Thirty-Second Army would head further south. They would prepare for a
final stand on the southern tip of Okinawa. They left Sugar Loaf and the
Marines of the Sixth to recover their dead and wounded. The Sixth suffered over
2,000 casualties. Sugar Loaf would be assaulted eleven times; some companies
would be literally wiped out twice.
Once again, the Marine command staff would attempt to convince Bunkner to make
an amphibious landing. Finally Bunkner concurred. The Marines would have their
amphibious assault on the Oroku Peninsula. They had less than thirty-six hours
to plan the landing. The Japanese naval forces had made the Oroku Peninsula
their base of operation. They were ordered south along with the Army. The naval
contingent, under Admiral Ota, chose to stay in their elaborate cave system on
the Oroku and fight to the last man. After two days, the Naha airfield fell
into American hands and Sixth secured the peninsula within ten more days. Very
few Japanese prisoners were taken.
Another aspect of the Okinawa campaign that must be addressed is the plight of
the civilian population. The Okinawans were a, docile people of small-stature
who were faced with an unenviable situation. Whether considered, 'like Go
pieces, in a game of Go,' as often referred to by former Okinawan Governor,
Masahide Ota, or as caught between the hammer and the anvil, their situation
during the war was miserable. At battle's end, one-third of the native
population had perished. The Japanese military had told the Okinawan civilians
to go south. They were thrown out of their hiding places as the Japanese
retreated and took those caves for themselves. Very little consideration was
offered these noncombatants by their Japanese overlords. A lone exception to
the normal disregard that the Japanese reserved for the Okinawans was exhibited
by Rear Admiral Minoru Ota, on June 6, 1945, shortly before Japanese naval
headquarters on the Oroku Peninsula was overrun and Ota and his staff committed
'seppuku.' No other description better reveals the Okinawan's plight:
Since the enemy attack began, our Army and Navy has been fighting defensive
battles and have not been able to tend to the people of the Prefecture.
Consequently, due to our negligence, these innocent people have lost their
homes and property to enemy assault. Every man has been conscribed to partake
in the defense, while women, children and elders are forced into hiding in the
small underground shelters which are not tactically important or are exposed to
shelling, air raids or the harsh elements of nature. Moreover, girls have
devoted themselves to running and cooking for the soldiers and have gone as far
as to volunteer in carrying ammunition, or joining in attacking the enemy.
The fact that a Japanese officer would admit negligence makes this passage
especially important. Also significant is his comment that the men had been
conscripted. This is not to say, as Ota points out, that some Okinawans were
willing participants. Like all civilians who had been fed wartime propaganda,
the Okinawans had unwarranted fears that accounted for their initial resistance
and the large number of suicides. Many Okinawans made it clear that they felt
they were fighting for their lives against the barbarous Americans, who would
rape the women and eat the children. Once the civilians discovered the Allied
troops did not intend to harm them, they surrendered and again became extremely
docile. The Naval military detachment established to support the local
population commented on their passivity, attributing it to 'great shock and
fright,' but added that from that point on they were docile and
cooperative. Rear Admiral Ota also described the particularly
horrific move south for the Okinawans: This leaves the village people
vulnerable to enemy attacks where they will surely be killed in desperation.
Some parents have asked the military to protect their daughters against rape by
the enemy, prepared that they may never see them again. Nurses, with wounded
soldiers, wander the battlefield aimlessly because the medical team had moved
and left them behind. The military has changed its operation, ordering people
to move to far residential areas, however, those without means of
transportation trudge along on foot in the dark and rain, all the while looking
for food to stay alive.
Other accounts regarding civilians support Ota's claims. The naval personnel
responsible for their relocation during the battle explained that the Okinawans
had been living in caves and were terrified to come out. Even at the battle's
beginning, 'seventy-five percent of their homes were found destroyed,
two-thirds having been burned. They were covered in lice and unclean, starved
and injured from bombing, shelling and bullets.' One of the most
riveting stories regarding the civilians of Okinawa is the story of the
Himeyuri Student Corps, composed of schoolgirls. Schools in Japan, including
Okinawa, had been militarized early in the forties. Conscription, activation
and intensive nurses training began late in 1944 in all female schools. The
First Okinawan Prefectural Girls School and the Women's Division of the
national Okinawa Normal School made up the Himeyuri Students Corps. These were
the most well thought of girls on Okinawa. When the battle began, the
Himeyuri girls, numbering roughly 225 and ranging in age from fifteen to
nineteen, were used as nurses aides in the Japanese military hospital.
These privileged young ladies usually did the most menial and often the most
dangerous work. Thoroughly indoctrinated, most would have had it no other way.
By May 30, 1945, the Japanese had already lost seventy percent of the forces
stationed on Okinawa. At this point, they abandoned the
Shuri/Yonabaru line and headed south. The military also abandoned these young
women. Medical units were deactivated and the girls were left to their own
devices. Pushed out of the caves, they moved south, unprepared and unprotected,
which exacerbated their losses as they tried to find family and safety. By the
end of June, just twenty-one remained alive. They have become a symbol on
Okinawa of what the Okinawan's endured. Explained Setsuko Ishikiwa, 'My
classmates died one after another.'  Admiral Ota's conclusion to his
telegram to Tokyo exhibits unique understanding of what the Okinawans had
endured. He expressed his concern for a people that the Japanese had done
little to protect: Ever since our Army and Navy occupied Okinawa, the
inhabitants of the prefecture have been forced into military service and hard
labor while sacrificing everything they own as well as the lives of their loved
ones. They have served with loyalty. Now we are nearing the end of the battle,
but they will go unrecognized, unrewarded. Seeing this I feel deeply depressed
and lament a loss of words for them. Every tree, every plant is gone. Even the
weeds are burnt. By the end of June, there will be no more food. This is how
the Okinawan people have fought the war. And for this reason I ask you to give
the Okinawan people special consideration this day forward.
The Americans who landed on Okinawa had been briefed regarding the Okinawans,
but they quickly surmised for themselves the pitiful situation that they were
in. U.S. troops tried to look out for them as best they could. In The Last
Chapter, Ernie Pyle wrote that the Okinawans were 'obviously scared to death,
shocked by the bombardment, and that after a few days when they realized that
they would not be hurt, they came out in droves to give themselves up.'
He concluded that the real befuddlement occurred when they realized not
only that the propaganda concerning the horrors of the Americans was incorrect
but also that part of the intricate invasion plan included enough supplies to
feed them. This is not to suggest that all encounters with the
Okinawans were benign. Many would be caught in the crossfire of war and, as in
any war, some men were not always compassionate to others when assessing their
own chances of survival.
The battle ranged on often with the Okinawan civilians caught in the middle. As
the men pressed on to the south the land flattened. Cane fields, terrified
civilians desperate Japanese, as well as small hills, almost always fortified,
made the fighting treacherous and chaotic. The last battle for the Sixth on
Okinawa, Mezado Ridge, occurred on June 17. On June 21, 1945, George company,
22nd regiment, Sixth Marine Diviison, the same outfit that raised the flag on
the northern end, did the honors on the southern end. The Battle for Okinawa
Show Footnotes and
. George Feifer, Tennozan: The Battle of Okinawa and the Atomic Bomb
( Boston: Houghton Millfin Co.,1992) p. 578.
. Roy E. Appleman, James M. Burns, Russell A. Gugeler, John Stevens, United
States Army in World War II The War in the Pacific Okinawa: The Last Battle
(Washington, DC:U.S. Government Printing Office, 1948) p. 468.
. Ibid p. 488.
. Robert Leckie, Okinawa: The Last Battle of WWII.
Penguin Books, 1995) 202.
. Feifer, p. 509.
. Appleman, p. 473.
. Gow, p.29.
. Appleman, p. 415.
. Fifer, pp. 69-71.
. Appleman, p. 474.
. William Tyree, 'Okinawa to be a Springboard'. United Press, June 25,
. Joseph Alexander, The Final Campaign: Marine in the Victory on Okinawa.
. J. Robert Mosken, The U.S. Marine Corps History, p. 396.
. CINCPO, Communique, No.313, March 29, 1945.
. Ibid, p. 374.
. Appleman, p. 68.
. D-Day Museum, New Orleans, La. Pacific side.
. Sid Moody. Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, Saturday, April 1, 1945, 1A.
. CINCPOA Communique, No.285, March 2, 1945.
. Fifier, p. 595.
. C.L. Sulberger, Ed. The American Heritage, WWII. American Heritage
Publishing Co. NY.1966. 589.
. David Nichols, Ernie's War, Random House, NY. 1996, 407.
. Fiefer, p. 596.
. Moody, 1A.
. Richard B. Frank. Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire,
1999, NY. Random house p264.
. ibid, 285.
. Ernie Pyle, The Last Chapter, Henry Holt Co. New York, 1946. 138.
. Ibid, .140.
. Ian Gow, Okinawa, 1945: Gateway to the Pacific. Doubleday & Co., New
. Hiromichi Yahara, The Battle For Okinawa
. John Wiley and Sons.
New York, p 3.
. Yahara, chapter 1.
. Yahara, p. 32.
. Ibid, p. 35.
. Gow, p. 89.
. Special Action Report On Okinawa Operation, Phase 1 and 2, Vol. 1.
Quantico Archives Sixth Marine Special Collection, Box 7, Folder 1.
. Gow, p. 80.
. Gow, pp. 40-41.
. Applemen, The War in the Pacific. Okinawa: The Last Battle
Center for Military History, United States Army. Washington, D.C.1991. p. 2.
. Ibid, p. 6.
. Ibid, p 3.
. 'WWII' Marine Link,
=. 1/28/02 p. 1.
. Applemen, p. 492.
. Bevan Cass, ed. History of the Sixth Marine Division
Battery Press, Nashville. 1.
. Cass, p. 11.
. Simmons, Edward H., Moskins J. Robert, eds. The Marine., Hugh Lauter
Levin Association, Inc. Hong Kong, 1998 p. 73.
. John T. Hoffman. 'The Lore of the Corps. Okinawa; 6th Marine Division,
Only One Formed, Fought and Disbanded Entirely Overseas' .Navy Times, August
. Ibid p. 3.
. James Hallas, The Battle for Sugar Loaf.
. E. R .Mosman, Lt. Commander. 'War Diary of Military Government
Detachment,' B-5. p. 23.
. Admiral Ota.
. pp. 19-20.
. Cook, p. 355.
. Haruko Taya Cook and Thedore F. Cook. Japan at War: An Oral History.
New Press, New York,1992, p.355.
. Seizan Nakasone, Himeyuri, Okianwa Japan, 1989, p. 32.
. Ibid, p. 36.
. Admiral Ota.
. Pyle, p. 125.
. Ibid, p. 109.
Copyright © 2003 Laura Lacey.
Written by Laura Lacey. If you have questions or comments on this article,
please contact Laura Lacey at:
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Published online: 04/13/2003.