Okinawa 75 years ago

Front page of Stars and Stripes, 22 May 1945

By PFC. WILLIAMS LAND | STARS AND STRIPES May 22, 1945

Stars and Stripes presents these archive reports as they were written by the reporters in the field. The graphic and politically incorrect language used may be offensive to some readers.

Editor’s Note: A fortnight ago Bill Land, one of our battlefront reporters, learned that he was a father. Back to us by radio came this story of Oki’s orphans. Unable to go home to see his own daughter in Baton Rouge, La., Bill let himself go on Oki’s orphans – being left to die by the Sons of Heaven. But the GIs wouldn’t let the kids die… 

Front page, 15 May 1945

OKINAWA – Here’s a story you could call “The Children’s Hour.” Ever since I got that radio about my new baby daughter I’ve had in mind writing a children’s story, especially since the material is so plentiful.

It is said that there are more children on Okinawa than there are goats, and, brother, that is some statement.

Very rarely does one see a woman who isn’t carrying either a born or unborn child around and most of the time it’s both.

For doughboys and leathernecks, the care of children started on the first day of the invasion, and from the way it keeps on, it looks as though “the Children’s Hour on Okinawa” will outlast Lillian Hellman’s play on Broadway.

Medic on Okinawa, 1945

Military government has even set up an orphanage, probably the first the island has seen.

“Since the natives showed interest only their own babies, we had to do something to care for children whose parents were killed or missing,” said Army Capt. W. W. McAllister of Iowa City, Ia., the officer in charge.

Nipples are made from surgical gloves and the orphans seem to take kindly to their new diet of canned milk through a glove.

In another part of the island, Chief Pharmacist’s Mate Hugh Bell of Iberia, La., found himself playing the role of a mother when his outfit, a Marine reconnaissance unit, was scouting for suspected enemy installations and suddenly came upon a whole colony of natives hiding in a cave. Most of them were starving and sick and 35 children required immediate medical attention.

Bell, being the only “doctor in the house,” had all of them on his hands. For 24 hours he treated them, giving them plenty of food and feeding them canned milk while his buddies drank their coffee black.

“The kids thought I had used magic to fix them up,” he said, “and followed me around whenever I went. The headman of the group of cave dwellers told the unit command later that Bell was called “Mother” whenever they referred to him.

It is not at all a strange sight to see kids running around in cut-off GI woolen underwear or rompers made of fatigues, but Sally’s diapers made of green camouflage cloth really take the cake. Sally’s one of the orphans.

Sitting on the hard coral rock playing with the ration can, it looks as if she selected a soft tuft of grass to place her little behind on.

Pfc. John J. Stroke of Olmsted Falls, Ore., found her. She’s a two-year-old girl, and Stroke supervised her bath and sprinkled her with anti-vermin powder. Then, with the help of marine fatigues, a jungle knife and couple of pins, he went into the diaper business.

Marine First Lieutenant Hart H. Spiegal of Topeka, Kansas, uses sign language as he tries to strike up a conversation with two tiny Japanese soldiers captured on Okinawa. The boy on the left claims he is “18” while his companion boasts “20” years.

With most able-bodied Japs in the Imperial army or navy there seems a definite shortage of obstetricians among civilians and therefore many deliveries have to be performed by American soldiers and medics.

Relating his first attendance at childbirth here, First Class Pharmacist’s Mate Richard P. Scheid of Napoleon, O., warned, “I knock down anybody who calls me a mid-wife.”

As in the play, “The Children’s Hour,” and everywhere else, for that matter, there are good little children and naughty ones.

The other day, Sgt. Elvis Lane, marine combat correspondent from Louisville, Ky., ran across a couple of them who didn’t want to take to the American way of life at first. Dressed in a ragged Jap soldiers’ suits, they kept hoping to fight the “American devils” who were soon to be blasted by superior Japanese power.

That night, enemy units attacked the camp in which the two boys were staying and the air was filled with screams of the Jap wounded, the rat-tat-tat of machine gun fire and explosions of hand grenades. When morning came, the boys stared in horror at the Jap bodies and one of them said:

“Jap is a big liar. I think my brother and I want to be like our father – farmers.”

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Current News –

6th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosives Ordnance Disposal Team

Live missile found at Lakeland, Florida airport.

https://www.tampabay.com/news/hillsborough/2020/08/17/live-missile-found-at-lakeland-airport-awaits-disposal-at-macdill/

 

 

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Lucy Amat – Providence, RI; US Army WAC, WWII

Michael Burke – Montreal, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, radar mechanic, attached to RAF 106th Squadron

Richard Gentz – Jackson, MI; US Navy, Admiral (Ret. 33 y.), pilot, Naval Academy grad ’57

Warren “Bud” Henke – South Bend, IN; US Army, WWII, ETO, 2 Silver Stars, Bronze Star

Harold Mendes – Cleveland, OH; US Army Air Corps, Japanese Occupation, 11th Airborne Division

Bryan Mount – Parawan, UT; US Army, Iraq & Syria, Calvary scout/gunner, Sgt. KIA

John E. Norman – Powell, TN; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division

Patrick Tadina – Fayetteville, NC; US Army, Vietnam, CSgt. Major, 2 Silver Stars

Floyd Welch – Burlington, CT; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Maryland, Pearl Harbor survivor

Henry Zajac – Elyria, OH; US Merchant Marines, WWII, Merchant Marine Academy graduate

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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 August 20, 2020, in Current News, Post WWII, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 140 Comments.

  1. I recall reading this story somewhere before gp, great to read it again and it still gets me thinking to the brainwashing that teaches two little boys to pretend to be 18 and 20, cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Toch geweldig dat die GI al gedaan hebben wat ze konden om de kinderen te helpen., Fantastisch.Bedankkt voor al diegene die hun lot hebben proberen te verbeteren

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I never knew about all of the civilian natives with so many children. I am sure that caring for those kids as tough as it was, was a nice break from the horror of combat. The American soldier, a kind soul.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. An excellent post, GP, showing a different aspect of the war. The men did what they could for those orphaned children.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for your like of my post, ” End Times 21, Revelation 12:7-17, War In Heaven-War On Earth;” you are very kind. Please keep up your own good articles.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Truly heartwarming, GP.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Another excellent post showing a different side of the war. If only all history writing was as good as this.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I kept looking for something ‘offensive,’ but never found it. It took the comment section to clear that up for me. I smiled at the reference to milk through a glove — that’s a very old, and very familiar procedure. I suspect a few of those farm boys knew about it, too. Even calves profit from that sort of technique!

    One of the things that stories like this make clear is that even guys who might not have been experienced as midwives or child carers found ways to dig deep, and help. It’s just wonderful.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I really enjoyed this post, GP. Our soldiers were always ready to take on whatever needs to be done. I think humanity is what separated us from our enemy.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks for a wonderful and moving story…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Its so sad to think of the deception by the Japanese that they spread to their own people including Okinawans

    Liked by 1 person

  12. A particularly sad situation because of the huge number of civilian casualties. The Japanese military as good as ordered them to kill themselves, terrorizing them with tales of alleged American atrocities. Some were given two hand grenades and told to throw one at GIs and then blow themselves up with the other. Others jumped off cliffs en masse, despite GIs trying to stop them. Revisionist “historians” are now casting doubt on this and removing it from textbooks.

    Only one WAC in the tributes this week. Lucy Amat was 96.

    Liked by 1 person

    • People are trying too hard to erase history these days rather than learn from it.
      I appreciate your interest here on each post, at least my readers add to the history rather than try to delete it!! 👍🆒

      Liked by 1 person

  13. This is the side of WWII my dad saw. After the battles were fought and won, having to deal with the aftermath of human suffering.

  14. GP, this post brings the era to life. Wow, you continue to bring to light aspects of that time that I never considered. This is delightful. Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Growing up on Okinawa, 3-5th grade in the mid-50s, I knew and played with some of these children. They came on base with their parents to tend rice paddies or care for family burial crypts, large concrete or stone structures. One irony, which I didn’t think about until later, is that we played soldier—running about, shooting one another, judging who could die most realistically. Kids, huh!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. My father had a book I read as a youngster, 100 Best True Stories of World War II. I think there was a story about a native in Okinawa who suffered from Elephantitus of the testicles. The GI’s fashioned him a wheelbarrow to carry his testicles around in. Surely I didn’t just create that in my head.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I think your comment about wanting to feel ‘human’ again hits the nail on the head. Decent American soldiers probably had to do things in combat that made them feel not so decent. Last year, I detoured from Tokyo to spend a couple of days on Okinawa with my nephew who had been there for almost three years with the Marines. Looking at modern Naha and the now peaceful sites of some of the fighting, it is hard to imagine the carnage of the battle. This is a great tribute to the kindness of US soldiers under difficult circumstances. Wonderful post as always GP.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I left a comment and it disappeared???

    Liked by 1 person

  19. You know this has me crying.
    That in war time, AND in times of peace, our troops have reached out to help others…especially children…does not surprise me and it makes me so proud of them…I’m encouraged that there are more good people in the world than we realize. 🙂
    My oldest brother tells stories of how they helped children in Vietnam.
    Excellent post, GP! 🙂
    HUGS!!! 🙂

    PS…”Yes, sir, I heard everything” made me laugh! 😀
    I once heard Terry Schappert (on Hollywood Weapons TV show) say, “When I was in the Army I often said, ‘I should have paid more attention in school.'” 🙂

    Among other important positions, Terry was, also, a Special Forces Medical Sergeant AND a Combat Medic serving in several wars.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Schappert

    Liked by 1 person

  20. A most excellent post, what a great bunch of guys.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. My father was in Okinawa 75 years ago. How times moves ever forward.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. There are way too many parallels to our current times and situation here. I don’t even want to get started on that. Suffice it to say even in the most dire situations it brings out the good from the most unsuspecting people. And this should give us hope.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Great look at those Americans, GP. That was the spirit of that generation.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. It’s great to hear wonderful stories like this. But American troops always show compassion in the midst of chaos. It makes you believe in the goodness of the human race with a very rare exception.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. And there’s still people out there who insist all we know as soldiers to do, is to kill others. Obviously they’ve never looked much further than the ends of their noses.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Those Marines played many roles in the war zone it would seem. Thanks for sharing their Children’s Hour as I’m sure they made a big difference in the lives of many little ones.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. There were a lot of innocent, ordinary people who suffered as a result of the war. It’s nice to know that we can and do show our more humane side now and again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • During war back then, war pretty much meant ‘anything goes,’ the goal was to win. Today there are so many rules, no final ending ever comes to fruition.(hence the 19 year wars). I really don’t know what the answer is.

      Liked by 1 person

  28. So good to see the humanity in the soldiers caring for the children of their ‘enemies’. And such a contrast with the treatment handed out to Chinese children during the Japanese occupation of that country.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. That was a lovely post. Westerners fight so many wars, but so many of them are capable of treating the enemy in a decent fashion once the bullets stop flying, especially where children are concerned.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Didn’t know that about all the kids. Very interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Another example of how American soldiers are some of the best people on earth. My favorite quote was when the guy said, “I knock down anybody who calls me a mid-wife.”

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Such amazing and sensitive generosity after what they had all been through

    Liked by 1 person

  33. There is nothing offensive in the report if one reads it with an understanding of a soldier’s mindset during the invasion in 1945. The spirit of the report was positive providing food and assistance to the people in dire need.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Peter. For many, saying Jap, was merely an abbreviation and not a slur also.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Well you already know this, but for Japanese Americans, that abbreviation was used later in such a derogatory way, it’s still triggering although I get the context here, the spirit of it all. It’s just most slangs start off innocuous such “nips” for Nippon (Japan), but end up being used in a derogatory way… even mundane foods like rice even became negative (sorry for the tangent).

        Liked by 1 person

        • I can understand that. Even for my father though, the word ‘nips’ was already a derogatory term. Therefore I have never used that one. My father and I have had nothing but the highest regard for Japanese-Americans, so if you ever catch me saying something wrong, please bring it to my attention, Greg.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I love your posts, and you cover aspects of Japanese and Japanese American history that many outlets can’t even close to covering. Also, I only went on a tangent because others might not know the history, but you’ve been so on point with every one of your articles which is why your blog is one of the only ones I actually read, plus I love the stuff you cover. Keep up the great work, and I highly doubt I’ll ever have to bring anything to your attention.

            Like

            • I thank you for saying so, but I have been known to messin’ up every now and then. 😏 Is there anything in particular you might like?
              Do you happen to know Koji Kanemoto? He had relatives on both sides of the Pacific and he covers that on his blog.

              Like

  34. What an amazing story and tribute to our American troops. Saving all those babies and people with their humanity. What a wonderful story about what America service men and women stand for and the kindness they are made of and how they showed their love. Thank you GP for this. Love, hugs and blessings to you and all your loved ones. Joni ❤️💕

    Liked by 1 person

  35. I always love to hear stories about soldiers caring for children in need

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Wonderful story. The US Military still makes orphanages a priority. Almost every Navy cruise book includes pictures of at least one orphanage visit, particularly at Christmas. When I was deployed to Hungary, the base chaplain requested that anyone returning to the United States please leave their sheets for beds at the orphanage he had adopted. I left mine. Father Mulcahey in M*A*S*H got it right when it came to portraying how our troops bond with the local kids.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Oh, that Okinawa story is so compelling.

    Liked by 3 people

  38. Dang it , GP. You made me tear up again. I love these stories. I’ve seen the photo of the old woman and the medic and it never fails to stir my emotions. I can only imagine her initial fear and the trembling until she realized the medic didn’t want to kill her but only wanted to help her and the others. People have long memories and those memories are carried further and deeper in some cultures than others. I never had a bad experience when I was stationed in either Okinawa or Japan. I always felt they remembered how we treated them after the war after they expected a completely different result. That memory carried to the present and made me feel welcome everywhere I went out in town.
    Great post!

    Liked by 8 people

  39. It’s amazing that they could find such tender human feelings in a war zone. For the two responses to the “enemy”‘ to coexist makes me very proud of these soldiers.

    Liked by 4 people

  1. Pingback: Okinawa: 75 years ago – Something Complicated

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