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The End of the Okinawa Fighting

Okinawa

Hari-kari to end Okinawa

‘The Fall of Japan” by William Craig, excerpt submitted by Rosalinda Morgan who can be found at https://subliblog.wordpress.com/

On the evening of the twenty-first of June, Generals Ushijima and Cho sat down to a sumptuous meal in their home under Hill 89. Overhead the Americans walked on top of the escarpment, where Japanese soldiers continued to resist them by fighting for every rock and tree.

The generals ate quietly. As their aids offered toasts, the two leaders drank to each other with dregs of whiskey preserved for this moment. A full moon shone on the white coral ledges of Hill 89 as a final tribute rang through the cave: “Long live the Emperor.”

At 4:00 A.M. on the morning of the twenty-second, Ushijima, cooling himself with a bamboo fan, walked with Cho between lines of crying subordinates to the mouth of the cave. There Cho turned to his superior and said, “I will lead the way.” The two generals emerged into the moonlight. They were followed by several staff officers.

Outside the entrance a quilt had been laid on top of a mattress. Loud firing sounded on all sides as American infantrymen, no more than fifty feet away, sensed movement. Ushijima proceeded to sit down and pray. Cho did the same.

Ignoring the guns and grenades, Ushijima bowed low toward the ground. His adjutant handed him a knife. The general held it briefly in front of his body, then ripped it across his abdomen. Immediately his adjutant raised a jeweled sword and brought it down across his neck. Ushijima’s head toppled onto the quilt and blood spattered the onlookers. Within seconds, General Cho died the same way.

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Okinawa, The Flag is raised

By 30 June, even the mopping up was completed’

The battle of Okinawa had ended. Over 12,000 Americans and more than 100,000 Japanese were dead and there were 7,401 military prisoners.  The American flag flew only 350 miles from Japan.

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Clearing the post of Naha, 19 June 1945

During the Okinawa campaign, a very strange “armed truce” occurred on a nearby island.  The commander of the small Japanese garrison asked to have time to consult with Tokyo about continuing his pointless holdout.  He later met several American emissaries on his beach and informed them that he was forbidden to surrender – but he would not fire on parties visiting the island for recreational purposes – on the condition that they did not molest his people.  Quite an improvement on the “old Pacific War”.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Alan I. Armour – Chicago, IL; US Army, Korean War, Lt., battalion cmdr. 187th RCT “Rakkasans”

Raymond Bonang – Boothbay Harbor, ME; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 880th Airborne Engineers

John Broderick – Pittsbourgh, PA; US Army, 756th Field Artillery Battalion, MSgt.

William Fouty Sr. – Tukwila, WA; USMC, WWII, PTO

G.M. ‘Jim’ Greene – Conway, AR; US Army, WWII, PTO, 7th Cavalry

John McGinnis – NY; US Army, Vietnam, 173rd Airborne Brigade

Chalmers Murray – Ft. Lauderdale, FL; US Army, WWII

Percy Overman Jr. – Newport News, VA; Merchant Marine, aviator

Howard Wildrick – Highland, NY; USMC

Thomas ‘Vic’ Varnedoe – Nashville, TN; US Army, Sgt., 2nd Infantry Division

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Okinawa – June 1945

Last picture ever taken of Lt.Gen. Buckner, the day before he died

By 10 June, the Marines had captured Yuza Hill.  The 10th US Army suffered severe casualties before they and the USMC advanced to Kunishi Ridge, the western anchor of the Japanese defense; a massive fortress.

Gen. Buckner had been sending messages to Gen. Ushijima, urging him to surrender.  So, when over a dozen Japanese wearing white hats appeared, the Marines assumed they were surrendering and they ceased operations.  Shortly after the enemy soldiers ran, a mortar barrage began.

By morning, the Americans had a foothold on the ridge, but reinforcements were cut down when they tried to advance.  Nine tanks were used to deliver 54 fresh men and supplies, but returned with 22 wounded.  As the battle for Kunishi raged on, the tanks opened a road to continue supplying the Americans.

Okinawa

By 16 June, the US 96th Div. opened a road for the tanks to continue delivering supplies, as air drops were falling into enemy hands.  Only one day later, Kunishi Ridge was considered a “mopping up” operation.

The Marines were sent to Mezado and Kuwango ridges where the enemy fire though intense, was short-lived.  Meanwhile, the Army moved down the Pacific side of the island encountering the enemy at Yaeju Dake-Yuza Dake Escarpment.  Naval gunfire and artillery smothered the enemy as the 10th Army proceeded hill by hill toward the tip of Okinawa, up Hill 89, Ushijima’s headquarters near Mabuni.

18th June – the 8th Marines moved into the line contribute their fresh, full strength to the slow drive.  Army Gen. Buckner decided to leave the outpost he was at and found himself on a hill which afforded him a view of what was actually going on up at the front.  He paused to watch for a few moments.

Oroku Peninsula where Japanese base force made their last stand

By this time, the Japanese artillery had been reduced to next to nothing, no shells had fallen in that area all morning.  However, by some devious quirk of fate, a lone gun somewhere in the shrinking ranks of the enemy let go a few rounds.  The first one felled the general, but no one else near him was injured.  He died before they could evacuate him.

Gen. Geiger took over the command and followed what his late chief would have done.  This was the first instance of a Marine officer commanding an Army unit of that size, though in WWI, MGen. Lejeune had commanded the Army’s Second Division in several operations.

Ambulance jeep, Okinawa

Although Allied land forces were entirely composed of U.S. units, the British Pacific Fleet (BPF; known to the U.S. Navy as Task Force 57) provided about a quarter of Allied naval air power (450 planes). It comprised many ships, including 50 warships of which 17 were aircraft carriers, but while the British armored flight decks meant that fewer planes could be carried in a single aircraft carrier, they were more resistant to kamikaze strikes. Although all the aircraft carriers were provided by the UK, the carrier group was a combined Commonwealth fleet with British, Canadian Australian  and New Zealand ships and personnel. Their mission was to neutralize Japanese airfields in the Sakishima Islands and provide air cover against Japanese kamikaze attacks.

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Current News – 

Information on the upcoming events of the Bataan Legacy Historical Society….

http://bataanlegacy.org/future-events.html

Information contributed by Nasuko

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert J. Andrews – Colorado Springs, CO; US Air Force, Korea & Vietnam, Lt.Colonel (Ret. 31 y.)

Rosetta Brobst – Laceyville, PA; WWII, US Army, nurse

Athol Currin – Wanganui, NZ; RSA # 816777, J Force 22nd Batt/42 Squadron

Robert Dole – Pearl City, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, 665th Ordnance Co.

Dennis Garbis – Falls Church, VA; Vietnam, Lt.Colonel (Ret. 20 y.), Bronze Star

John McCain – Alexandria, VA; US Navy, Vietnam, pilot, USS Forrestal, POW / US Senator

Miriam Olsen – Eugene, OR; US Army, WWII, nurse

Ronald Setniker – Biwabik, MN; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division

James Tisdale – Goshen, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division, Bronze Star

John Waite – Clarkston, WA; US Navy, WWII, PTO

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Battle of Sugar Loaf Hill Okinawa

Eye witness account from Okinawa….

Together We Served Voices

By Scott Sumner USMC 1978 – 1984

My uncle James M. Barrett was a World War II Marine. He was born in Nov. 1923 in Minnesota. He had a promising career as a welterweight boxer, 1until his country’s call became too loud. On January 18, 1943 he reported for duty with the United States Marine Corps. He went through recruit training in San Diego, Calif. and on the first of May was sent to Sitka, Alaska and in October to Attu, Alaska. The Army had finished cleaning the Japanese off the island, and he drew guard duty for the winter.

The battles in the Pacific had taken their toll and the Marine Corps needed more men for the fighting. My uncle was sent to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. for additional infantry training in May 1944. On December 27, he, and many others, embarked on a troop ship for Guadalcanal…

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PTO & CBI reactions to V-E Day

US Army 77th Division hears the news on Okinawa

Victory in Europe was welcome news to Allied troops in the Pacific and the China-Burma-India theaters of war. They greeted it with thanksgiving but there was little celebration. As a London Times special correspondent in Burma wrote, “The war is over. Let us get on with the war.” Now that Europe would no longer be receiving the bulk of troops and materiel, officers and enlisted personnel in the war against Japan hoped they would be given more men and equipment quickly, in order to end their war sooner.

Meanwhile, fighting continued in New Guinea, the Philippines, Okinawa, the CBI and elsewhere. Kamikazes still made suicide dives to sink Allied ships. The lights may have gone on over Europe and America, but a funeral pall still darkened the Pacific and Asia.

SMITTY _ New Guinea 10/24/44

Smitty, my father, when asked how he had felt, merely shrugged. “I was happy for my fellow soldiers over there, but we had work to do, so we didn’t think about it very long.”

From The May 7, 1945 Edition of Stars and Stripes

OKINAWA, May 6 (ANS)—The reported death of Adolf Hitler and the word of surrender of the German armies in Italy was good news to soldiers, sailors and marines here but there was no celebrating.Most of the fighting men figured it wouldn’t mean a thing to them “until we can see some help coming and see a chance of ending the war out here.”

They termed Hitler’s death “good riddance” and said it was a good thing he went that way because there probably would have been lots of bickering around if we had taken him alive.”

Gen. Daniel I. Sultan

Gen. Dan I. Sultan, commander of the India-Burma Theater, on V-E Day, paid tribute to the fighting men who won the European war in a short statement to the troops of the India-Burma Theater broadcast over the American Army radio stations in the Theater. The text of Gen. Sultan’s statement:
“Today in Europe, German military might has been broken. After almost six years, organized hostilities have ceased. The great work of reconstruction of the shattered continent can now begin.
“We recognize the tremendous achievements of the Allied Armies in Europe who won this victory, for we too have been fighting. We know the cost of driving back a tenacious enemy – we know the necessity for close co-operation of all branches of our forces, the close union with our allies in the common cause. We know the heartbreaking conditions of combat under adverse weather and over difficult terrain – the back-breaking work of construction and supply in support of combat operations. So, as fighting men, we pay tribute to the fighting men in Europe.
“Their victory is in part our victory. We have done with less man and supplies, so that they might have more. Their victory brings our victory nearer. The men who broke the German ground defenses in the west, who destroyed her essential industries from the air, can now turn their attention to the war with Japan. The industrial strength of the United States, until now producing for the war both in Europe and in Asia, can turn its full productive force to the Far East.
“This is the day of Germany’s defeat and Europe’s liberation, but we must not forget that there is still a tough battle to be fought before the Japs are licked. Every one of us knows his part in that fight; and if every one of us will do his part to the utmost, Japan’s defeat and the liberation of Asia will come surely and swiftly.”

The Pacific War

 

The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia greeted V-E Day with the question, “Since when has it been customary to celebrate victory halfway through a contest?” The war with Japan had been the great threat to Australia itself, and the country’s sons were still fighting and dying in that war. Accordingly, the mood was more somber than in Europe. On May 9, some 100,000 people attended a service at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne.

For the most part New Zealanders observed V-E Day on May 9, although there was some spontaneous dancing in the streets. Preparations had been underway for weeks, in part to keep celebrations from getting out of control. Events included speeches, thanksgiving services, and the singing of the national anthems of New Zealand, America and the Soviet Union. A People’s Victory March in Christchurch drew 25,000.

In the U.S., many communities attempted to subdue celebrations, wanting to give the occasion the solemnity they felt it deserved and reminding Americans that, as Truman said, “Our victory is only half over.” Across the country, however, joyous celebrations broke out. Thousands gathered in New York’s Times Square. New Orleans took on the appearance of Mardi Gras, with people dancing in the streets. Church bells rang out the glorious news in small towns and major cities.

In the Soviet Union, Stalin himself seemed less than enthusiastic. His deputy Nikita Khrushchev telephoned to congratulate the Soviet leader on his victory, and Stalin reportedly snapped at him, “Why are you bothering me? I am working.” The USSR’s official victory parade took place in a downpour over a month later, on June 24.

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Military Humor –

‘Bring back rationing!’

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Harold Bishop – Sacramento, CA; US Navy, WWII, submarine service

Christopher A. Celiz – Summerville, SC; US Army, Afghanistan (7th deployment), Sgt. 1st Class, KIA

Dallas ‘Chris’ Christenson – Pensecola, FL, US Air Force, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, MSgt. (Ret.)

John Hart – Keesville, NY; US Army / US Navy

Melvin Hilscher – Kulm, ND; US Army, WWII

James McLean – AUS; RA Air Force # 428761, WWII, Flight Sgt., 83rd Squadron

George Meyer – Bristol, CT; US Navy, WWII, Medical Corps

Ruskin Reddoch – Troy, AL; USMC, WWII, 1st Lt., Silver Star, Purple Heart

Elliot Seidman – Delray Beach, FL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman

Maria Swafford – Boydton, VA; Civilian, US Map Service, D.C., WWII

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Col. Hiromishi Yahara on Okinawa

Lines of defense on Okinawa. Top Japanese officers were in the bottom line of bunkers.

Colonel Hiromishi Yahara was third in command of the Japanese defenses on Okinawa. Read all about his story below.

It was Colonel Hiromishi Yahara who designed and implemented the jiykusen, or the yard-by-yard battle of attrition that cost the American forces so many casualties in the three-month battle, and he was the highest ranking officer to survive the battle and make it back to Tokyo. Before the overall commander on the island, Lt. Gen. Mitsuru Ushijima, committed ritual suicide in the battle’s final days, he instructed Yahara to escape to Tokyo to make a final report to the emperor.

Yahara was captured by the Americans, which bothered him immensely—to be captured or to surrender was considered a disgrace to one’s family—but eventually he did return to Japan.  In 1973, Yahara still felt strongly that the garrison at Okinawa, as well as the people of Okinawa themselves, had been betrayed by Imperial Headquarters in Tokyo.  Because he faced personal attacks for surviving the battle, Yahara decided to write a book to set the record straight.


The result is a fascinating and unique look at the last, decisive battle of the Pacific War, written by a surviving member of the defeated Japanese command on Okinawa.  Yahara was a gifted and meticulous strategist, highly respected by his peers. Because he had spent two years in the United States as an exchange officer prior to World War II, he knew his enemy better than did his superiors at Okinawa, Ushijima and Maj. Gen. Isamu Cho.

Yahara makes a startling revelation in the book regarding the events surrounding the American landing on Okinawa on April 1, 1945.  According to Yahara, the plans drawn up in Tokyo called for Japanese air power to play the decisive role in the battle for Okinawa prior to the actual landing.  Japanese planes flying from the mainland along with aircraft launched by the Japanese Combined Fleet—conventional fighters and kamikaze suicide attackers—were supposed to strike the U.S. Fifth Fleet offshore prior to the landing and annihilate the American landing forces while they were still in their ships.  The 32nd Imperial Army entrenched on Okinawa was to play a minor role, mopping up the survivors of the American landing forces as they struggled ashore.

Giretsu Commandos on Okinawa

To Yahara, the failure to launch the promised air attack on April 1 sealed the fate of the island’s garrison—it never had a chance for victory. Hundreds of thousands of Okinawan citizens had been betrayed as well, Yahara believed, sacrificed to the whims of the Japanese high command.

Although his love for his country never wavered, Yahara was unique among his peers.  He fully recognized the flaws in traditional Japanese military thinking—the Bushido code, or way of the warrior—and he was disgusted as he watched his superiors repeat the errors of previous eras.  The Imperial Army had a “blood and guts” mentality; it had been undefeated since winning the Sino-Japanese War in 1895.  To the Japanese militarists’ way of thinking, the combination of Japanese spirit and the willingness to die for the emperor would overcome any material advantage enjoyed by an enemy.

Japanese bunker

Yahara was convinced that the initial Japanese strategy for Okinawa—depending on air power—would fail.  Japan’s air forces were seriously degraded by early 1945, and it had lost many experienced pilots. American aircraft were now technically superior, and Japan’s Navy was down to just a few surviving carriers.  Yahara believed that the only chance for his country’s survival lay in the proper use of its remaining ground forces.

After the promised air assault did not materialize, he went ahead with his planned defenses on the ground.  He would fight for time, making the invaders pay dearly for every inch of ground, to allow Japan to prepare its defenses on the main islands for the Allied invasion that was sure to come.  Yahara’s tactics on Okinawa would utilize the island’s terrain, which was perfectly suited for defense, to wage an ugly war of attrition. His soldiers would go underground in caves and concrete bunkers to survive air, artillery, and naval gunfire, and then battle American ground forces for every inch of island real estate. His intricate, multi-layered defensive positions and the tenacity of the 110,000-man 32nd Army combined to prolong the battle for three long and exceedingly bloody months.

Col. Hiromishi Yahara

In his book, Yahara admits that he despised both the self-delusion practiced by his superiors and the false propaganda foisted upon the Okinawan people, who were told that capture by American troops would result in rape, torture, and death, to which suicide was preferable.

Condensed from an article by John Walker.

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 Military Humor – BOOT CAMP 

‘Sign me up for swing shift basic training! I don’t think I could handle early morning hours.’

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Bathurst – Madison, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Frank Conger – Poughkeepsie, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Bennington

Missing Man formation

Warren Foss – St. Louis, MO; US Navy, WWII, PTO

James Gavette – Bradford, PA; US Army, WWII

Samuel Tom Holiday – Kayeta, AZ; USMC, WWII, PTO, Navajo Code Talker, Purple Heart

Norman Jackson – Watertown, NY; US merchant Marine, WWII

Francis McCormack – Rutland, VT; USMC

Irving Press – Windsor, CT; US Army, WWII

Raymond Rzepecki Sr. – Central Falls, RI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Pfc, B-24 tail gunner, 370th

Omar Shaffer – Linden, VA; US Navy, WWII, gunner

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SeaBees on Okinawa, April 1945

SeaBees of WWII

This eye witness account was contributed by John Ratomski.

 

AHEAD OF OKINAWA’S FRONT LINES WENT A FIVE MAN SEABEE SURVEYING TEAM TO LAY OUT THE SITE FOR A NEW AIRFIELD.  CCM DOYLE L. CROWELL AND HIS MEN WORKING IN “NO MANS LAND” FOR TWO DAYS – SOMETIMES MORE THAN A HALF-MILE IN FRONT OF THE FIGHTING. THE MARINES DIDN’T CATCH UP WITH THE SURVEYORS UNTIL THE THIRD DAY.

April 1, 1945 – Easter Sunday arrived with a calm sea and a clear blue sky. The sun was two hours above the horizon. The serene South China Sea was fogged with the ghostly gray mist of the smudge pots. Behind the curtain of smoke, landing barges circled restlessly, waiting.  In the distance boomed the heavy naval guns. At 0830 the barges flashed across the line to the beach. The battle for “Bloody Okinawa” was on.

This was the moment we had sweated out for thirty days aboard ship. Thirty days of playing cards and checkers and reading books, magazines and the news reports; thirty days of boredom and anxiety.

USS Joseph T. Dickman, WWII

Aboard the USS Dickman we tried vainly to see what was going on. The wall of smoke obliterated everything outside a radius of two hundred yards. Scuttlebutt spread widely through the ship: The Japs are shelling! Someone had seen several unaccountable splashes near the next ship in line. On our bit of the U.S.A., isolated from the world and the news and in the midst of significant historical events, we depended on the latest developments from the coxswains passing by in landing barges. No one hit on the fourth wave. The sixth wave went in standing up! Our bird’s eye view of the battle was minute indeed.

D-Day for Seabees was April 2nd, and the first groups of the 71st Naval Construction Battalion stepped ashore at Blue Beach to the first nearly civilized country they had seen in eighteen months. There, not six yards from the beach, was part of a real house with the wreckage of some natives possessions strewn about.

Yontan Airfield, aerial view from the 25th Photo Recon Sq./5th Air Force

From Blue Beach we marched five miles, carrying the equipage necessary to existence (a mere 60 to 100 pounds) on our backs, to a former Japanese airfield, Yontan, and prepared to bivouac. Within a few hundred yards of the camp were a number of Nip planes in all states of disrepair.

April 6th. No bombs were dropped in the camp vicinity, but old hands neatly hit holes dug for that purpose. Later in the day planes made a strafing run on the camp, setting fire to and completely destroying the Frank type Nip plane which was parked near the camp. The first casualty due to enemy action occurred, a slight shoulder wound caused by falling flak. The most severe cases were those individuals unfortunate enough to have been carrying open cans at the time of the raid.

On April 8th, grading started on Route 1 from Yamada to Onna, the main road which led north on the China Sea side of the island. This stretch of road formed the backbone of the battalion’s job on Okinawa. The next day the first part of the battalion moved to a more suitable position north, following the Marines of the 3rd Corps and keeping the roads open.

SeaBees on Okinawa

The month of April brought cold weather miseries to the men. Eighteen months in the torrid heat of the South Pacific had weakened the resistance of the men to the mild cold of Okinawa. Cloudy, rainy days and cold nights brought on the worst colds and grippe in two years. Nights were spent with all available clothing wrapped around the body, and baths from buckets and helmets were no longer cool and refreshing as they had been in the tropics, but ordeals to be endured only when the odor became overpowering.

Also in April came terrific hailstorms of steel to those remaining encamped beside Yontan.  Shore installations and ships in the harbor threw up such a tremendous barrage in each raid that the harbor vicinity was prey to the never ending rain of metal.  On 16 April mortar shells aimed at Yontan landed around the camp area.  During the previous night the first and only death due to enemy action occurred. There were air raids too numerous to count, but usually the planes merely passed over on their way to more important targets. On several occasions bombs were dropped nearby, but they were just close enough to make a few more Christians.

SeaBees at work, Okinawa

By April 29th the battalion road responsibility extended from Yamada to Nago, a distance of more than 20 miles. Throughout the entire distance the road was widened sufficiently to accommodate the northward drive of the 3rd Corps. A Piper Cub strip at Onna was begun on April 16th.  By April 20th enough of the strip had been completed to enable the first plane to land.  At the village of Kise, a concrete bridge had been badly damaged by combat action and was repaired by cribbing along the broken span and back filling with rubble. Many of the bridges on Route 1 were damaged, seemingly beyond repair. Each bridge was repaired by crib and back fill or with shoring. These bridges were the only ones on the island made passable by using salvage material and drift wood.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

James Adams Jr. – So. Windham, CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Aviation Engineer

John Beverly – Stone, KY; US Navy, WWII, Korea, Sr. Chief Radioman (Ret. 22y.)

Bob Dorough – AR; US Army, WWII, band, (Schoolhouse Rock)

Larry Harvey – Portland, OR; US Army, (Burning Man founder)

Douglas Jackson – Knoxville, TN; US Army, WWII, ETO, 1261st Combat Engineers Battalion

Kathleen Leach – Tauranga, NZ; WAAF # W2039, WWII, L.Cpl.

James Martin – Brookline, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division, jumpmaster

Bill Nichols – OK; US Navy, WWII, PTO & CBI

Dennis Odom – St. Louis, IL; US Army, Vietnam

Joseph Varone – NYC, NY; US Army, WWII, Bronze Star & 2 Purple Hearts

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1 April 1945 – Okinawa

Okinawa invasion map

Codenamed Operation Iceberg, this was a major battle of the Pacific War fought on the island of Okinawa by U. S. Marine and Army forces against the Imperial Japanese Army.

The United States created the Tenth Army, a cross-branch force consisting of the 7th, 27th, 77th, and 96th infantry divisions of the US Army with the 1st, 2nd, and 6th divisions of the Marine Corps, to fight on the island. The Tenth was unique in that it had its own tactical air force (joint Army-Marine command), and was also supported by combined naval and amphibious forces.

On this day in 1945, after suffering the loss of 116 planes and damage to three aircraft carriers, 50,000 U.S. combat troops of the 10th Army, under the command of Lieutenant General Simon B. Buckner Jr., land on the southwest coast of the Japanese island of Okinawa, 350 miles south of Kyushu, the southern main island of Japan.

Marine & Navy aircraft destroyed all enemy aircraft on land. Shown here is Yontan Airfield

Determined to seize Okinawa as a base of operations for the army ground and air forces for a later assault on mainland Japan, more than 1,300 ships converged on the island, finally putting ashore 50,000 combat troops on April 1. The Americans quickly seized two airfields and advanced inland to cut the island’s waist. They battled nearly 120,000 Japanese army, militia, and labor troops under the command of Lieutenant General Mitsuru Ushijima.

See some of the action in this 4 minute video………

The naval campaign against Okinawa began in late March 1945, as the carriers of the BPF began striking Japanese airfields in the Sakishima Islands. To the east of Okinawa, Mitscher’s carrier provided cover from kamikazes approaching from Kyushu. Japanese air attacks proved light the first several days of the campaign but increased on April 6 when a force of 400 aircraft attempted to attack the fleet.

The high point of the naval campaign came on April 7 when the Japanese launched Operation Ten-Go.  It was during this operation that they attempted to drive their battleship Yamato through the Allied fleet with the goal of beaching it on Okinawa for use a shore battery.

Initial U.S. landings began on March 26 when elements of the 77th Infantry Division captured the Kerama Islands to the west of Okinawa. On March 31, Marines occupied Keise Shima. Only eight miles from Okinawa, the Marines quickly emplaced artillery on these islets to support future operations. The main assault moved forward against the Hagushi beaches on the west coast of Okinawa on April 1. This was supported by a feint against the Minatoga beaches on the southeast coast by the 2nd Marine Division. Coming ashore, Geiger and Hodge’s men quickly swept across the south-central part of the island capturing the Kadena and Yomitan airfields (Map).

US Army 77th Infantry soldiers trudge thru the mud & flooding on Okinawa

Having encountered light resistance, Buckner ordered the 6th Marine Division to begin clearing the northern part of the island. Proceeding up the Ishikawa Isthmus, they battled through rough terrain before encountering the main Japanese defenses on the Motobu Peninsula.

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Current News –

The remains of five Australians who were murdered by the Japanese in World War II appear to have been discovered on the island of Nauru.  The five men were working as civilians on the island in 1943, not soldiers, so there is, unfortunately, no money available to repatriate them.

Frederick Royden Chalmers volunteered to remain on the island along with four other men in order to help the islanders deal with the Japanese invasion they knew was coming.  Chalmers was 62 years old when he was killed. The other four men were Bernard Quin, 48, Wilfred Shugg, 39, William Doyle, 47, and Frederick Harmer, 44. They were captured by the invading forces and eventually dragged onto the beach where they were killed on March 25, 1943.

The family of Chalmers wants his body returned to Australia. The Unrecovered War Casualties Unit of the Australian Army Defense Force and the Department of Foreign Affairs both claim to be unauthorized to bring the remains of the men back home.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Stevie Barnett – Matthews, MO; US Navy, Vietnam,Chief Petty Officer (Ret.)

Ira ‘Pete’ Chesley – North Platte, NE; US Army, WWII, ETO, 9th Armored Division

Thomas Eager – Watertown, NY; US Navy, WWII, USS Princeton

Bob Funderburke – Rock Hill, SC; US Army, Korea, Sgt., 11th Airborne Division

Jessie Gale – Tetonia, ID; US Navy, WWII, ATO

Michael Littrell Sr. – Louisville, KY; USMC, Vietnam

William Patterson – Santa Barbara, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Col. (Ret.), 42 Ordnance Div.

Lloyd Robertson – Cralk, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

John Siler – Banner, OK; Merchant Marine, WWII

Francis Weniger – Plankinton, SD; US Navy, WWII, PTO

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Special Issue – MAY – Military Appreciation Month

May, marked officially as Military Appreciation Month, is a special month for both those in and out of the military.

Not only do we pause on Memorial Day to remember the sacrifice and service of those who gave all, but the month also holds several other military anniversaries and events, including Military Spouse Appreciation Day and Armed Forces day.

 

 

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Walter Black – Marion, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, navigator

George Casseb – San Antonio, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI / Korea, meteorologist, Captain

Charles Crittenden – Seattle, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI

Francis Fleck – Louisville, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 547th Fighter Squadron, Bronze Star

Richard Lowe – Northglenn, CO; US Army, WWII, CBI

Putnam McDowell – Pittsburgh, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, P-38 pilot, photo recon

Robert Mumford – York, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, PT 288, torpedoman

William Punnell – Flandreau, SD; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Lt., Hellcat pilot, USS Wasp, KIA (Palau)

Ora Sharninghouse – Findlay, OH; US Navy, WWII, Aviation Ordnance, Avenger pilot, USS Intrepid, KIA (Palau)

Robert Welch – Byron, MI; US Army Air Corps, 187th/11th Airborne Division

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Japanese Soldier’s Remembrance of Iwo Jima – conclusion

“Iwo Jima” by: Mark Maritato

Takahashi Toshiharu’s story continues….

I ran towards the sea.  The day got brighter.  When I jumped down, the enemy shot.  I felt as if I burnt a burned hot chopstick in my chest and I could not breathe.  There are plenty of US soldiers, but I was alive.  Blood flows a lot. Both shirts and pants were stained with blood.  I tried to stop blood even a little, but it didn’t work.

The enemy brought a flamethrower to the mouth of the hole.  The fire did not reach me. It was where I had been before.  The bullet was through, but it hurts because my body swells when I breathe.  It is a suffering to die.

I will die soon.  There is no doctor or medicine.  There is no food or water, death is near.  There was nothing I could do.  My eyes dazzle, I’m bleeding a lot. My body is cold.  I gave up, I knew that it was useless.  I visualized Japanese soldiers coming from the back of the cave.  I asked for water, but I only got tears of sorrow.  I rolled on the ground in pain.  The wound has come to suppuration. (infected).  The left hand stopped moving.

SE Asia map w/ Iwo Jima highlighted

The US military is blowing up the entrance to the cave.  A number of places have also blown up today.  It is a strategy to make Japanese soldiers buried in holes.   I do not have any food and I can not move to escape, I will die here, but I would rather die outside.  Now it is dark and I see a human approach.  If he is an enemy, it will lead to death.  My hand moved, but there is no gun.

It was a Japanese soldier.   I went down to the man.  There was a grenade noise.  A gunshot also happened.  I guess he met his enemy.  The area is covered with cannon-fire, but I can’t tell the direction.  The cliff which I’m on is as high as 30 meters is hit and shattered.   With  a slope of about 45 degrees and it becomes rough soil and stone.  I am going downhill.

Iwo JIma

I fell to the sandy beach.  The wound in my back breaks and the pus flows out.   Since no one is here, I can not even be treated.  Still I got up and walked down the sandy beach to the water.  I want to drink, but it is sea water.  Drums were flowing in the vicinity. I thought that it might be the drinking water of the US military, so I tried to hit it with a stone, but it will not open.

I have no guns, only one grenade for suicide but I can not use it.  I ran back in my original direction.  Footprints remain because they are sand.  I follow the enemy footprints. The scratch on the back is broken and it is becoming a null null. The left hand does not move perfectly.  I came where I fell before and try to climb the slope.  The left hand does not move at all.  I lost consciousness on my way.

Japanese POW

I slept in the hole without eating for 4 days.   I had been chased by the enemy, but collapsed among other dead Japanese and the enemy could not tell the difference.  I will die here today.  I think that it is March 18th. My birth is 18th March 18th in Meiji. Today is March 18th in Showa 20.  There is no better way than natural suicide, natural death, shooting out of the hole and being shot dead, or committing suicide with a grenade for suicide.  It is only clear that there is no life.

A US military airplane flew over me.  I want to see my wife, children, mother and brother but I can not even move.  I might as well be a soldier who went to the enemy’s camp and died.  Let’s do so.  All the fellow soldiers are dead.

The US Army soldier swings his head sideways and instructs by hand for me to sit down.  The tall, blue-eyed soldier keeps his gun at me.   The soldier gave me his water bottle.  I drank the water like a drunk.   Now I’m ready to be killed, but they tell me to follow them.

1945, wounded Japanese soldier cared for by U.S. Marines.

I arrived at the curtain where the military doctor was.  The surgeon told me to eat by motioning with his hands.   I understood it.  It was boiled soybeans from a can.  I ate it all.  The military doctor put white medicine on the wound.  I wondered if he was killing me, but a jeep came.  It had a drawer that they put me on and we left.

I arrived at a field hospital and was taken out from the drawer and the military doctor told me, ” I will give something to eat”, I thought this was true.   I thought that I came to the world after death.  I have heard that there are many US soldiers of Nisei so I asked. Iwo Jima occupied March 17th.  They say Japan has lost a useless war.  I do not know why I am alive, when I should have been killed by the US military.  Being a POW is a painful thing.

This is a condensed version of  Imperial Japanese Army Corps of Engineers Corporal, Takahashi Toshiharu’s diary.  To view the entire story, the link is at the top of Part One, posted on Monday.  The Cpl. was sent to Gum Island for 10 days and boarded a hospital ship to Hawaii.  When the war ended, he was returned to Japan.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – Kunihiko Hisa cartoon album “Zero Fighter 1940-1945”

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Lino Agosti – Anchorage, AK; US Army Air Corps, WWII,  HQ/152 Artillery/ 11th Airborne Division

Bob Brown – San Francisco, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-26 pilot

Sam Gilman – brn: CAN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Korea & Vietnam, (Ret. 26 y.)

James Henderson – Sydney, AUS; Korean War

Ed Kennedy – Ft. Lauderdale, FL; USMC, Korea, one of the “Chosin Few”

Roy Malmassari – Issaquah, WA; US Army, Korea

John Naples – Falmouth, ME; US Army, WWII

John Otten – Sioux Falls, SD; US Navy, WWII, ETO

Paul Smith – Clanton, AL; USMC, WWII, PTO

George Welsh – North Platte, NE; US Army, WWII, Chaplain

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Japanese Soldier’s Remembrance – Iwo Jima – part two

Mt. Suribachi

As Takahashi Toshiharu watches the US tanks he continues his story:

No matter how long you wait, the tank will not come up to 10 meters. He is afraid of the march of my army. At another 90 meters I’m staring at it.  I was telling myself that if I made it as close as 90 meters, I could reach it.

While waiting for another 90 meters to advance, one Japanese soldier crawled and approached the first tank.  I approached the tank I decided to attack.  The shell flew and the tank blew and began to burn.  Sgt. Yatter and I shouted.

M4 Sherman on the edge of Motoyama airfield, Iwo Jima, 2/1945

I had woken the enemy.  The enemy was burned out with a flamethrower. The flame is dark with black smoke. I could not see even an inch ahead.  Because the first tank was done, the enemy must have been angry. The second tank is headed for us and shoots with a cannon, and dashing with a machine gun, awesome.

There are strange things and miracles in the world.  It is a miracle that I am now writing such things at the time like this.  It is surprising. The enemy does not advance, it burns near and shoots. Eight of us could not move.  If it comes, we will be shot or burned.  I can not do anything. There is nothing left to do but wait for tanks to come near. Wait for it.

This time. The earthquake tremor occurred with a large acoustic sound like a collapse of heaven and earth. I can not see even an inch with black smoke. We also tremble as the body jumps.  I wonder what happened, I think it is an earthquake or a volcano explosion.  Buries alive.

Cpl. Oliver Leone throws smoke grenade into cave on Iwo Jima

I ran away like a typhoon.  We can not do it.  The Marines who came with the tanks throw grenades in all the entrances and exits of my army positions and crush them. We got buried alive deep under the ground.

Eight people who were supposed to die by charging the tanks were deeply buried under the ground. There is no air, food and water. It becomes a mummy as it is. There is no way to live.  I decided to dig the earth with a bayonet while others carry it backwards. We worked desperately in the dark.  I do not know how many hours it has passed, but I made a hole about the size of a human head. The air worry ceased.

I did not understand what was going on outside.  There is no guarantee of life if we go out.  I poked my head out, it was night.  Tracer bullets are climbing high, bright and dark.  There are a lot of gasoline cans at the exit of the hole. So I decided to extend the hole and exit.  Sergeant Yano stated that we failed in a fight.  For the time being we will return to the North Border. Report failure and wait for the next command.

While the bullets are climbing, three men crawl going  to the coast. It is not found by enemies. When I went 100 meters, I went high.  Instantly I heard the sound of a machine gun.  It was in an ambush. When looking down in the hole of the shell, Corporal Yoshioka, Senior Iwasaki, First Kimura soldiers killed.

We lost four people and went north further 100 meters under command of Sergeant Yano. There is a convenient place to get to the sea. It is about 2 meters high here and you have to jump down.  Sergeant Yano went and was hit by machine gun fire.  The enemy was everywhere.  It is not easy to go through the enemy.  Two officers were crushed. I have to take the command this time. There are three people, I, Yokoyama upperman and forest soldiers left.  It is good that Sgt. Yano died. Tears fall down, war must stop.

Gen. Kubayashi and his staff on Iwo Jima

Yokoyama upper rank soldier and is much younger than me.  The remaining three will go again . Go down and walk down, crawling and crawling. After a while there was a convenient place to jump off.  Be careful.   Yokoyama stood up.  He was hit and said that it hurts.  It was done.   He was shot from the chest to his back. It is disappointing.

Eight people escaped have now become one person alone. There is no hope of living. Everyone died.  I decided to prepare for the death.  The sky in the east became bright.  It is useless if the dawn breaks, I am in the middle of the enemy and I am also shot.

to be continued…

Click on images to enlarge.

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Japanese Military Humor – from the Kunihiko Hisa cartoon album “Zero Fighter 1940 – 1945”

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Stanley Brauser – OK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Weather Dept., Major

Robert ‘Jack’ Darnielle – Sokane, WA; US Army, Korea, Tank Co./15/3rd Division

Jonathan Dunbar – Austin, TX; US Army, Syria, MSgt., Special Operations, KIA

Elmer ‘Garvis’ Garrett – Kilmichael, MS; US Army, Korea & Vietnam (Ret. 25 y.)

Robert Johnson – Porcupine, SD; US Navy, WWII, pilot

Danny Kraemer – Fort Smith, AR; US Army, WWII, PTO, Amphibian Division

Frederick Mayo – Portland, ME; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 380 Air Service Group

Matt Tonroe – Manchester, UK; British Parachute Reg./3rd. Battalion, Syria, Sgt., KIA

Ervin Vosta – Licoln, NE; US Army, WWII & Korea, TSgt.

Walter Walden – Springfield, OR; USMC, Cpl.

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