The 11th Airborne on Okinawa

C-47’s of the 54th Troop Carrier Group

Saturday, 11 August 1945, top secret orders were delivered to General Swing for the division to be prepared to move to Okinawa at any time. The division G-3, Colonel Quandt, called Colonel Pearson, “This is an Alert. Have your regiment [187th] ready to move out by air forty-eight hours from now.” Commanders throughout the 11th A/B had their men reassembled, even those on weekend passes had been found and brought back to camp.

11th Airborne

The lead elements left Luzon immediately. At 0630 hours on the 13th, trucks brought the 187th to Nichols and Nielson Fields for transport and they landed at 1645 hours that afternoon at Naha, Kadena and Yotan Fields on Okinawa. They would remain on the island for two weeks.

It would take the 54th Troop Carrier Wing two days to transport the 11th Airborne using 351 C-46s, 151 C-47s and 99 B-24s; with their bombs removed and crammed with troopers. The planes had carted 11,100 men; 1,161,000 pounds of equipment and 120 special-purpose jeeps for communication and supply. Eighty-six men remained on Luzon long enough to bring the 187th’s organizational equipment to Okinawa by ship.

Jeeps being stored

Okinawa, as one of the islands being “beefed-up” with supplies, men and materiel, quickly became significantly congested; it is only 877 square miles. One day would be unbearably hot and the next would bring the heavy rains that created small rivers running passed their pup tents. The troopers were back to cooking their 10-in-1, ‘C’ or ‘K’ rations on squad cookers or eaten cold.

Okinawa cave (in good weather)

A typhoon crossed the island and the men were forced to live on the sides of hills with their pup tents ballooning like parachutes and taking off in the wind. In the hills were numerous old Okinawan tombs that the Japanese troops had adapted into pillboxes and these helped to protect the men from the storms.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

James Bickel – Madison, TN; US Army, WWII, 85th Infantry

Douglas Clark – Portland, OR; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Roy Dillon – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Air Force, WWII

Jonathan R. Farmer – Boynton Beach, FL; US Army, Syria, Chief Warrant Officer, 3/5th Special Forces Group, 2 Bronze Stars, Purple Heart, KIA

Shannon M. Kent – NY; US Navy, Syria, Chief Cryptologic Technician, KIA

Wilsey Lloyd – Florence, CO; US Navy, WWII

Margaret Psaila – Louisville, GA; US Army WAC, WWII

William Schmitt – Anchorage, AK; USMC, WWII & Korea

Arthur Taylor – Mortlake, ENG; British Army, WWII, ETO, Dunkirk

Scott A. Wirtz – St. Louis, MO; Civilian, Dept. of Defense, Syria, former US Navy SEAL, KIA

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on January 21, 2019, in SMITTY, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 117 Comments.

  1. Oh, are you in Britain or America? I just saw a response from you, to someone, where you said “eh?”. This makes me think you are British.

    Like

  2. Thank you for sharing this. I am trying to learn about these things since my son is in the military. The Bradleys are awesome. He drives them, sometimes. Reconnaissance and Paratroopers are great! Your site makes me feel closer to my son. 😊
    🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸

    Like

  3. Dat moet een indrukwekkende landverhuis geweest zijn :al dat materiaal en al die strijkrachten en hun voertuigenoverbrengen was zeker geen sinecure en goed doordacht.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. After reading about all their hardships, it’s hard to imagine that we complain if the electric is off for a few hours.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Done a bit of logistic planning in the past. But this is just off the scale. I would not have the slightest chance of doing this. Astonishing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. In two days they transported “11,100 men; 1,161,000 pounds of equipment and 120 special-purpose jeeps “. How on earth did the Japanese ever think they could even compete with, let alone defeat, an economic power of that magnitude? I bet they are wishing they could take back Pearl Harbor before the battle on Okinawa even starts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The logistics are remarkable, how our country banded together to make all that equipment and train that army is unheard of even today – and to think this is only one division!!
      I believe you’re right about some of the Japanese wishing things had ended earlier. If you’ve noticed, more of the enemy were deciding to surrender rather than commit suicide. Many were not following blindly into the fray at this point.

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  7. The caves and tombs would have made good shelters, for sure. I bet they had some wildlife in there for company from time to time, also taking shelter.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The details of the logistics never fail to amaze me. The other thing that caught my attention was the mention of the caves and tombs. The last time I was in Kansas, I stopped at a place called Battle Canyon, where the last of the Indian wars was fought in that state. The Cheyenne had dug rifle pits and caves into the hills of a draw, where the women and children sheltered during the fighting. I suspect the Japanese efforts were more sophisticated, but it’s still interesting to see how the same basic technique spanned such different cultures.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Catherine Colby

    My husbands great grandfather, who is still going strong at 93 years old, was part of this group that you wrote about. Honored to read a bit of the story and see some pictures. I hate that we are losing these good people and the stories they can tell. Thank you for retelling them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • He was with the 11th Airborne? Terrific! I love to hear from relatives and in your case, it would be outstanding to hear from one who was there!!

      Like

      • Catherine Colby

        Yes he was! He was a paratrooper but he didn’t jump there. He arrived by boat and the front opened up. They walked through the water with their guns over their heads to keep dry. My grandfather said everyone hated the general. The general was only there for about 15 days total. He said it was hot one day and would rain the next.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Sleeping in old tombs… It must have been an act of desperation, G! –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I noticed the date is August 11th…they don’t know it yet but the war is soon going to be over

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Naturally I had to read the obit for Arthur Taylor the Dunkirk vet.
    What an amazing tale.
    He must have been a glutton for punishment,
    After the war and being demobbed, he couldn’t settle down and rejoined the RAF and stayed for another 36 years! Glutton for punishment? You bet!
    Thanks GP I’d never have got to read about this man.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Your military humor segment got a pretty good laugh out of me today haha. Well done, as always!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. What logistics! All those men and equipment. all those planes. my goodness. Thanks, GP.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Hey GP…just want to say how much I enjoy your blog….and to say thanks for your response to “Sitting Pretty”. I’m not sure what happened but when I started to reply to your message everything disappeared and I couldn’t bring that window up again. So, just saying thanks here instead!
    ~ Dave

    Liked by 1 person

    • Computer glitches are certainly above my pay-grade, Dave. lol Thank you for being one of those great people who find history interesting!!
      I enjoy your posts as well, I wish I had time to comment on each one. My apologies.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. To move that amount if equipment must have been a logistical nightmare. The conditions certainly didn’t lend themselves to a comfortable time did they!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I know I don’t say it enough, but love your posts!! Thank you for what you do!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I knew a Joe Marsala of ROCHESTER, NY, an ex GI. He died recently at about 95. Joe would
    tell me about his bombing run episodes in Europe and laugh about the many holes his plane would absorb from enemy fire. Joe was a wonderful man.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Stephen, if you would care to have me put Mr. Marsala in the Farewell Salutes, I’d be honored. You can see from today’s Salutes the type of info I like to include. They were a great generation, so full of life, honor, ingenuity and humor!! I hate that we are losing them!!

      Like

  19. Great post. I have a great uncle who was an airplane mechanic on Okinawa during WWII.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Loved the safety briefing cartoon. It was pretty much true. Ours, on Fridays was–“Be Safe.” The rest, like in the cartoon, was implied.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Servicemen adapted so well to awful conditions back then. I cant imagine trying to sleep in a damp tomb, or old pillbox. At least they didn’t have to jump on Japan, something to be grateful for.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. What a nice image of an cave in good weather. 😉 Dont need to have a lot of rain. Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I’ll be in Okinawa in May. I’m looking forward to viewing this battle through their eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Ah, Okinawa, land of mud, maggots, and rotting corpses. So thankful the invasion of Japan was never needed! One can only imagine. . . .
    –Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  25. This puts into perspective how a little cold and snow while tucked warm and snug in our homes and offices is nothing compared to sleeping out in the elements on a side of a hill…

    Liked by 1 person

  26. 🤣🤣🤣Your memes made me laugh so hard. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  27. The fact that they had 600 planes at their disposal is remarkable. Our manufacturing, by the end of the war was crazy!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. A soldier’s nightmare to suffer through a torrential rain in a pup tent!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Adding to the physical discomfort would have been rumors, stories about the bombs that had been exploded and general uncertainty.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Fascinating info. The typhoon touch was a surprise and provided info I had never thought about or suspected.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. No wonder boot camp is so impossibly hard! Look what they’re up against. They have to be able to survive anything.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Some of those jeeps ended being recycled to become the colorful Filipino jeepney.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Those caves were a godsend for the Japanese. I liked your image of the ballooning tents like parachutes on the sides of the hills. I can see it and I feel cold. How miserable!

    Liked by 1 person

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