OKINAWA, the last major battle of World War II, began on April 1, 1945 and ended June 21, 1945. The American naval forces assembled there were larger than those at Normandy in June, 1944, and more than 12,000 American and 100,000 Japanese soldiers sacrificed their lives. The pivotal importance of the Battle of Okinawa, however, has been overshadowed by controversies surrounding the atomic bombs that exploded two months later. Debates still rage today, questioning the morality and wisdom of that choice. United States President Harry Truman was anxious to end World War II quickly with minimal casualties. The bloodbath at Okinawa helped spur his decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki because the casualty numbers at Okinawa indicated a projected one million deaths for the planned land invasion of Japan. American leaders agreed that they could not sacrifice so many lives; the only viable alternative was the atomic bomb. Winston Churchill’s address to America showed how vital this battle was: “The strength and will power, devotion and technical resources applied by the United States to this task, joined with the death struggle of the enemy…places this battle among the most intense and famous in military history. We make our salute to all…engaged.” Okinawa was a critical turning point that essentially ended the war and served as a catalyst for the world-changing decision that followed.
The United States entered World War II in December of 1941. American soldiers fought on two fronts: Germany and Italy in the West, and Japan in the East. Knowing they could not reckon with both powers at once, the Americans adopted a “Europe first” strategy. Still, there was an unexpectedly strong American navy that halted Japanese expansion at Midway Island in 1942. By 1944, with the Germans in retreat, the Allies turned their central attention to the Pacific theater.
In September, the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff met to decide the final steps in defeating Japan. Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, commander of the Pacific theater, defended General Douglas MacArthur’s Philippine campaign, while Fleet Admiral Ernest King, commander of all United States Naval Operations, promoted his own Formosa (Taiwan) campaign, which called for proceeding to Japan by way of Formosa. MacArthur convinced the Chiefs that his campaign was more plausible and would cost fewer lives and resources. He proposed to recapture the Philippines and for Nimitz to seize Iwo Jima and Okinawa, thus “cutting off Japan from her oil supply lines and paving the way for an invasion of the enemy home islands.” MacArthur’s campaign provided what seemed to be easily-won stepping stones to Japan herself. The objective was to conquer small but strategic islands, establishing air and naval bases each step of the way.
The island hopping campaign showed new fervor in 1944. The Battle of Coral Sea in May of 1942, had ushered in the “age of naval aviation,” allowing avoidance of face-to-face confrontations. In June, Americans had stopped Japan’s imperial expansion at Midway. Although at Guadalcanal the Japanese had administered “one of the worst defeats ever inflicted on the United States Navy in a fair fight,” Americans had retaliated by annihilating much of Japan’s air power. In October of 1944, with full government support, the Americans fatally crippled the Japanese Navy in Leyte Gulf. Following a bloody struggle in early 1945, the small but essential island of Iwo Jima became an American base. By March, the Americans had conquered Japan’s Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, a once-huge empire, with the exception of one island–Okinawa. Operation Iceberg, the campaign for Okinawa, was the last major battle of World War II and the final turning point.
Okinawa is the largest of the Ryukyu Islands (485 mi2), which are located in the East China Sea southeast of Kyushu, Japan’s southernmost island. Since Okinawa is only 375 miles from Kyushu, it would make an advantageous staging area for Americans en route to Japan. Capturing Okinawa meant opening the door for the invasion of Japan proper. Possessing Iwo Jima (760 miles from the mainland), Okinawa, and the majority of the Pacific Islands, would give the Americans a strong advantage. Control of these seemingly insignificant islands would cut Japan off from her supplies and simultaneously provide America with crucial refueling and repair stations. The long chain of stepping-stones would allow American forces to “hop” from island to island, each step closer to Japan, thus shortening the extended supply lines.
Okinawa was the final hop of the campaign; there, the United States Marine Corps, Army, Navy, and Air Force all united in a final struggle before invading mainland Japan. The United States had gathered formidable forces; Admiral Nimitz oversaw Admirals Spruance and Turner, who led naval operations, and Lieutenant General Buckner, who commanded the ground troops.
Leading the powerful Japanese 32nd Army were three men from the Samurai elite. Lieutenant General Mitsuru Ushijima was the main commander, an awe-inspiring figure. Lieutenant General Isamu Cho, whose enthusiasm and impulsiveness complemented Ushijima’s reserve, was appointed chief-of-staff. Colonel Hiromichi Yahara, who served as the chief planning officer, advocated a war of attrition, which called for a carefully planned defensive strategy rather than an all-out attack. Ushijima spent months turning Okinawa into an ocean fortress by digging elaborate networks of tunnels that connected strategically located artillery. He stored enough water and essential supplies to last an extended period of time. Ushijima planned to lure the invading Americans inland by allowing an unopposed landing. He would then overpower them with all the strength of the 32nd Imperial Army. In marked contrast to previous battles, there would be no glorious dying by “crush[ing] the enemy at the water’s edge,” wasting precious men, resources, and time. That traditional Japanese strategy had failed repeatedly; this tactical change was long overdue. Thus, Ushijima planned a phenomenal ambush for the Americans.
American aerial bombardment of Okinawa commenced in 1944 and was reinforced by tens of thousands of naval shells showering the Hagushi Beaches (See Appendix B) six days prior to landing. The Japanese, watching from their hidden fortifications behind the Naha-Shuri-Yonabaru line (See Appendix B) to the south of the Hagushi Beaches, were impressed by the American bombardment, harmless though it was. One soldier remembered, “The dust, smoke, and flashes of fire…cover the ground and soar to the sky, presenting a scene of unsurpassed grandeur.”
The Divine Wind, the Japanese suicide force consisting of hundreds of kamikaze bombers and naval vessels, would assault American ships off Okinawan shores. Unfortunately for this newborn fleet, American B-29 bombers and anti-aircraft guns eliminated most of its first waves of planes. The Americans also sank the Yamato, foiling the super-battleship’s suicide mission. Ushijima scored only a few crucial hits, including aircraft carriers Wasp and Franklin. The loss of these important ships was not severely crippling for the Americans because they had so many more resources. Despite the heroism of countless suicide pilots, the kamikaze missions failed to gloriously wipe out American forces.
An invasion force larger and more powerful than the one at D-Day in Europe approached Okinawa. On April 1, 1945, more than 60,000 American troops landed on the Hagushi beachhead. Opposition and casualties were almost nonexistent. Kamikaze bombings and strafing from the air were the sole signs of Japanese movement. Soldiers fondly called it “Love Day;” it soon stretched into “Honeymoon week.” The landing on Okinawa contrasted with that on Iwo Jima so much that Admiral Turner was convinced the Japanese had given up. The Americans secured the beachhead and two airfields in less than one morning with minimal casualties (28 killed and 104 wounded), all from aerial attacks. In the south, a diversionary force of Marines feigned a landing on Minatoga Beaches (See Appendix B), completely fooling the Japanese–General Ushijima mistakenly rejoiced to the Imperial Headquarters that his men had successfully repulsed the enemy with numerous casualties.
In the next few days, one American division moved north, soon reaching minor Japanese fortifications on the Motobu Peninsula (See Appendix B). By April 20, Northern Okinawa was conquered. Meanwhile, another division moved south toward Ushijima’s Naha-Shuri-Yonabaru main line of defense to join the American Twenty-fourth Corps, which had been halted at Kakazu Ridge, the strongest point of the defense line.
The cloudy April weather reduced visibility, thus skewing the digitally-generated aerial maps of the island. From the erroneous information, Americans estimated 65,000 Japanese troops; in reality, more than 100,000 troops awaited, hidden in a maze of tunnels and caves. The unsuspecting Americans attacked points all along the Japanese defense line that stretched from coast to coast. “It’s going to be really tough…. I see no way to get them out except by blasting them out yard by yard,” predicted Major General John R. Hodge. Okinawa’s rain torrents and mud escalated the soldiers’ misery. One American veteran described the onslaught: “While on Okinawa, the marines and soldiers were going through their crucible of hell brought on by rain, heat, poison snakes, mosquitoes…the stench of human feces and rotting human flesh filled with maggots….”
Because the Japanese Army was well-fortified, it took indescribable courage, determination, and many sacrificed lives for the Americans to break through. One division assaulted a single position about eleven times, losing twice the number of men (including reinforcements) originally in their company. Japanese casualties, too, grew steadily, particularly in their counter-attacks for which they were inappropriately equipped. The Americans slowly pierced the Shuri line, and Ushijima retreated, inch by inch. By June, the senior Japanese officers, Ushijima, Cho, and Yahara, conceded defeat. “We must have thousands of young soldiers still alive here, Yahara. I wish we could send them all home,” General Cho mourned. But surrender meant disgrace for both the men and their families, according to Japanese tradition. Consequently, most of the Imperial Army engaged in countless suicidal charges. On the last day, Lieutenant Generals Ushijima and Cho committed ceremonial hara-kiri (suicide), after ordering Yahara to escape to Tokyo. American General Buckner had died a few days earlier. Finally, on June 21, 1945, all organized fighting ceased.
Although the Americans finally broke through Japanese defenses and conquered Okinawa, they witnessed excessive bloodshed. “It was the worst fighting of the Pacific war, its sustained intensity surpassing even the brutal combats of Tarawa, Peleliu, and Iwo Jima.” As Admiral Nimitz said, “Uncommon valor was a common virtue.” Because Okinawa was so vital, the Japanese defended their ground with desperation even as the unrelenting Americans determined to seize the victory.
Both sides knew Okinawa would be a turning point. The Japanese saw Okinawa as “the anvil on which the hammer-blows of an invincible Japan would destroy the American fleet.” The Americans, on the other hand, were confident that Okinawa would bring the imminent defeat of Japan. The island’s underground caves for defense coupled with Japan’s indefatigability posed a great challenge to Americans, who, in turn, rallied to match their enemies will for will.
Winning Okinawa as a base was crucial to America’s planned invasion of Japan in the spring of 1946. “Okinawa would be the catapult from which this mightiest amphibious assault force ever assembled would be hurled.” The acquisition of Okinawa saved innumerable pilots and planes, as did Iwo Jima during other American offensives. More importantly, the American victory at Okinawa shortened the war, dashing Japan’s hopes of winning and weakening her tradition of honor and loyalty to the Emperor, which transcended her trust in firepower and material strategy. Therefore, the American victory at Okinawa was essential.
A Japanese victory at Okinawa was equally important in order to “cripple or destroy the enemy [American] sea power that had brought the Americans so close to Japan proper.” Because the Japanese knew the Americans needed Okinawa as the foothold for their massive invasion of Japan, they “committed everything they could to destroying the 10th Army at Okinawa.” Hoping to prevent the invasion, Japan mobilized her immense 32nd Imperial Army, her greatest kamikaze forces, the new baka (a piloted suicide bomb), and its most successful defense tactics. Failure to stop the Americans at Okinawa meant the unthinkable–an enemy land invasion of the Japanese homeland. Thus, never contemplating defeat, they fought fiercely for the tiny island.
The Battle of Okinawa was a turning point because the devastation and remuneration in terms of lives were so high. The atrocities at Okinawa, the epitome of Pacific warfare, made it “the bloodiest land battle of the Pacific war.” American ground and naval forces reported 70,000 casualties. These tremendous casualty rates were the impetus for President Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. “I do not want another Okinawa from one end of Japan to the other,” said Truman, justifying the use of the atomic bomb in lieu of the land invasion. Okinawa, with such high stakes, was only a fraction of the size of mainland Japan. The nation would savagely resist an invasion despite the depletion of her resources after her defeat at Okinawa. If the United States launched the invasion, the estimated million casualties and drainage of resources incurred would be unimaginable.
On the Japanese front, Okinawa made Japan a “defeated and demoralized nation.” The peace party leaders in Tokyo were forced to admit that defeat was inevitable. Their arguments convinced Emperor Hirohito to oppose the pro-war leaders in his cabinet, and after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to accept unconditional surrender. Even General Ushijima realized that Japan’s strength could not match America’s. In his last message to the Emperor, Ushijima declared, “Our strategy, tactics, and technics [sic.] all were used to the utmost and we fought valiantly. But it was as nothing before the material strength of the enemy.” Finally, at Okinawa, American forces destroyed the Imperial Army. The crippling of Japan’s vessels and the elimination of all fuel supplies forced an end to the Japanese war machine.
The Okinawa campaign immensely impacted World War II. Its climactic turning points in suicidal, defensive, and amphibious technologies produced carnage that led to use of the atomic bomb, a turning point in atomic warfare. The utter brutality of the campaign profoundly altered the lives of the survivors. For veterans like Joe Zuffi, an infantryman, “The word ‘Okinawa’ is thrillingly traumatic…. Yes, to the rest of the world, there is World War II, but to me there is ‘Okinawa.’ “ Okinawa, the last battle of World War II, led to the dropping of the atomic bombs and to Japan’s surrender on August 15, 1945. To the world, it meant the end of a war that left nothing unscathed, but it also ushered in the beginning of peace and healing. It meant that “every man in the Pacific war zone or bound there breathed a prayer of thanks…. They would live.” In the words of one of those men, Leo Drake, it meant that “at last the long, hard-fought war had ended, and the lights were turned on again all over the world.”
Appleman, Roy E., James M. Burns, Russell A. Gugeler, and John Stevens. Okinawa: The Last Battle. Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1960.
This book was first published in 1948 by the Historical Division, Dept. of the Army as part of its series United States Army in World War II: the War in the Pacific. This official history of the army described experiences of American soldiers and commanders in Okinawa in detail, complete with at least one fold-out map in every chapter. The photographs, aerial maps, graphs, and tables also helped portray the lives of men and civilians during the 81-day campaign.
Becker, Carl M. and Robert G. Thobaben. Common Warfare: Parallel Memoirs by Two World War II GIs in the Pacific. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 1992.
Two men, born in Ohio in 1924 entered the U. S. armed forces at nineteen years of age. From their memorable experiences in the Pacific theater to their teaching careers, their lives have been remarkably similar. In retirement, they reminisce about the “good war,” by recreating in words the way it really was for two soldiers in the Pacific, and undoubtedly millions more.
Hershey, John. Hiroshima. 2nd Edition. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1946; reprint, New York: Vintage Books, 1989.
Tragic yet powerful, this story of the destruction of Hiroshima from the eyes of six witnesses documents the first moments of the Atomic Age that began August 6, 2000. In this revised edition, the author supplements the six stories of the Hiroshima survivors with what happened to them forty years later. Truman saved American and Japanese lives by dropping the atomic bombs, but the necessity does not lessen the horrors in the bombed cities. A New York Times review states: “Nothing can be said about this book that can equal what the book has to say. It speaks for itself, and in an unforgettable way, for humanity.”
Higa, Tomiko. The Girl with the White Flag. Translated by Dorothy Britton. Shirahata no shojo. Tokyo: Kodansha Ltd., 1991.
A little six-year-old girl’s heart-rending account about living through the carnage at Okinawa. Faith and determination even in such a young child helped her overcome the hopelessness, bitterness, loneliness, and inhumanity of war on her native soil. Her experience forced her to become mature and taught her to value the preciousness of life.
Inoguchi, Rikihei, Captain, Tadashi Nakajima, Commander, Former Japanese Imperial Navy, and Roger Pineau. The Divine Wind: Japan’s Kamikaze Force in World War II. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1958.
Written from the Japanese perspective, this eye-witness account of the Pacific war focuses on the Divine Wind, the kamikaze (suicide) forces. Japanese naval leaders realized after the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines that their few remaining ships comprised an inadequate fighting force. Admiral Onishi proposed the use of suicide tactics during the Philippine campaign and the new tactic was tested, then used again in later conflicts, such as Okinawa. Because the missions were one-way only, young pilots fresh out of school were taught to take off, steer, and plummet from the sky. They were not taught how to land their explosive-carrying planes.
Johnston, James W. The Long Road of War: A Marine’s Story of Pacific Combat. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998.
An impressive, first-person account of infantryman James Johnston’s personal experiences as a marine fifty years ago in Australia, New Guinea, New Britain, Pavuvu, Peleliu, and Okinawa. Johnston was a line company machine gunner, which meant that he was on the front lines, doing the dirty work, being “humanity’s last ditch.” Still angry with incompetent officers and know-it-all rear troops, he told his story honestly, with no glorification or subtraction. I saw the stark reality and the automatic bravery of front line warfare.
Levin, Dan. From the Battlefield: Dispatches of a World War II Marine. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1995.
A combat correspondent, Levin wrote poems and stories as tributes to send back to the States. The scene he describes on Saipan goes for almost every single Pacific battle: “The dead are everywhere. They lie in their strained postures of death in the burnt cane fields, in ditches, in foxholes, in the beds of small streams, on the hillside and mountain slope. They float face down in the sea until the slow tide washes them onto the beach. They lie buried in blasted buildings and in dynamited caves. They lie in numbered rows in the cemeteries…. New names are etched in biting acid into American remembrance…. Each for hundreds a memory that separates them from all other men–a bitterness for killed comrades and a thrilling echo of terror and struggle that they can communicate to no one.” (pp. 22-23) In the midst of this inhumane struggle, Levin attempted to keep his sanity and values, and to educate civilians back home who could never know the realities of war.
Nagai, Takashi. The Bells of Nagasaki. Translated by William Johnston. With an Introduction by William Johnston. Nagasaki no kane. Japan: Hibiya Shuppan, 1949; reprint, Tokyo: Kodansha International Ltd., 1984.
Just as in Hiroshima, the pain and death began with a bright flash, then a gigantic explosion. Nagai’s suffering altered his outlook on life forever. He tells his story as a plea for world love and harmony, using church bells as his symbol of peace and blessing. “Grant that Nagasaki may be the last atomic wilderness in the history of the world.” Okinawa helped Truman decide to drop the bombs that caused so much devastation, but surely the destruction would have been far greater had the war been prolonged and had the Americans initiated an amphibious campaign on Japan.
Nichols, Chas. S., Jr., Major, United States Marine Corps and Henry I. Shaw, Jr. Okinawa: Victory in the Pacific, Marine Corps Monographs Series. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1955.
Coming from the historical branch, G-3 Division Headquarters, USMC, this book was packed with government maps, documents, letters, charts, photos, aerial views, statistics, and facts. It included a list of the Marine command and staff who served on Okinawa, as well as American and Japanese task organization. The book was actually a collaboration of hundreds of Okinawa veterans and their diaries, reports, and battle plans.
Nichols, David, ed. Ernie’s War: The Best of Ernie Pyle’s World War II Dispatches. New York: Random House, Inc., 1986.
Although Ernie Pyle, the famous World War II European Theater war correspondent was killed in his first Pacific battle, at Ie Shima, an island off Okinawa, he greatly contributed to public awareness of the fighting in Europe and North Africa. Many Pacific veterans wished Ernie Pyle had lived to witness and report the “real” Pacific warfare, which had a more savage reality.
Ogura, Toyofumi. Letters from the End of the World: A Firsthand Account of the Bombing of Hiroshima. Translated by Kisaburo Murakami and Shigeru Fujii. Zetsugo no kiroku. Japan: Chuosha, 1948; reprint, Japan: Kodansha International Ltd., 1997.
After his wife passed away from radiation sickness soon after the bomb exploded, Ogura wandered the streets in a daze. With unbelieving eyes, he witnessed razed buildings, piles of burnt rubble, and the sick, wounded, dying, and dead. Although using atomic bombs was Truman’s most feasible option for ending the war, and it did save countless lives, the victims–helpless civilians under dictatorial military rule–undoubtedly suffered more than their fair share.
Simpson, William P. Island “X” Okinawa. West Hanover: The Christopher Publishing House, 1979.
Fighting men and civilians on the homefront were not the only ones who contributed to the war effort. There were numerous noncombatants who constructed infrastructure to transport troops, who delivered supplies to fronts all over the world, and who adapted to urgent circumstances and shortages. Simpson recollects his experiences as a noncombatant, an American Advance Base personnel. In this campaign on Okinawa, the supply lines were unbelievably long–7,000 miles! A lieutenant in charge of unloading, sorting, storing, and delivering, Simpson was popular with his men and very adept at his post (unlike the incompetent senior officer who relieved him and lasted for only several days). Simpson’s personal anecdotes revealed a new view of the war that is just as important as that of infantrymen, artillerymen, and bomber pilots.
Terkel, Studs. The Good War: An Oral History of World War Two. New York: the New Press, 1984.
I thoroughly enjoyed this volume of stories by World War II survivors. Each piece contained several short anecdotes. The Pacific reminiscences that I read gave me a vicarious experience of war and the soldiers’ sentiments: “The only thing that kept you going was your faith in your buddies. It wasn’t just a case of friendship…. What was worse than death was the indignation of your buddies. You couldn’t let ’em down. It was stronger than flag and country” (pg. 60). Reading these veterans’ tales helped me understand how the soldiers on Okinawa managed to survive throughout such an atrocious campaign.
Truman, Harry S. Memoirs of Harry S. Truman. Volume 1, 1945: Year of Decisions. Memoirs. Garden City: Doubleday, 1955; reprint, New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1986.
It was enlightening to discover Truman’s thoughts, feelings, and the rationale behind his actions in 1945, his first year as president. I looked for evidence in his own words that Okinawa’s carnage made him choose atomic bombs instead of full-scale invasion.
Ugaki, Matome, Admiral. Fading Victory: The Diary of Admiral Matome Ugaki, 1941-1945. Translated by Masataka Chihaya. With a forward by Gordon W. Prange. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburg Press, 1991.
Admiral Ugaki’s diary enhanced my conception of Japan’s traditions and way of fighting. His personal feelings were not written for anyone but himself. The Admiral trained many kamikaze pilots, most of whom were young men taught only to take off and to steer, not to land. In the end, seeing Japan’s defeat he committed suicide in accordance with military honor. He took off with a small attack group to fulfill his final duty as a Japanese Samurai. His last note, written on August 15, 1945, read, “Having a dream, I will go up into the sky.”
Yahara, Hiromichi, Colonel. The Battle for Okinawa: A Japanese Officer’s Eyewitness Account of the Last Great Campaign of World War II. Translated by Roger Pineau and Masatoshi Uehara. With and Introduction and Commentary by Frank B. Gibney. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1995.
It was fascinating for me to read the personal writings of Yahara, one of the senior Japanese officers during the Battle of Okinawa. His insight into the enemy’s superiority in weapons and modern warfare was so profound, yet he could do nothing about it. “He knew the score, although superior knowledge never seemed to get in the way of his 1940s-style patriotism. For all his later exhortations to the troops in Okinawa, no one understood better than Yahara the flaws of Japan’s military position. Not only had his superiors done badly, but they continued to repeat the mistakes of an earlier era. No modern army was crueler than the Japanese, but in no high command did the capacity for self-delusion flourish so abundantly. It was Yahara’s particular curse to know how badly his army was destined to fail” (pg. xvii). Although Officers Cho and Ushijima committed suicide at the end of the Okinawa campaign, they ordered Yahara to escape to Tokyo. The Americans, however, intercepted Yahara and captured him. For any Japanese man, imprisonment signified disloyalty to the Emperor because he did not die for the Emperor in battle. When Yahara was released, he returned to Imperial Headquarters and was scorned by the generals and leaders to whom he reported.
These documents were sent to me as e-mail attachments on January 9, 2000 (The “Letter to Gus” was sent February 16, 2000) by Leo Drake, a naval veteran of Okinawa who became a historian and writer after his life-altering experiences in the Pacific theater.
Drake, Leo, “Chronology of the Sea-Air War in the Pacific WWII 1941-1945.”
This document furnished me with a clear chronology of the Pacific naval war. Mr. Drake’s writing provided an especially riveting account of warfare aboard the USS North Carolina, the battleship on which he served.
________, “Near Death Encounter: Battle for Okinawa–Code Name Iceberg.”
Mr. Drake told about his time at Okinawa in a passage from one of his published books. It was a “no quarter” struggle that never ceased, night or day, land or sea. It was a fight to the death in the Japanese eyes.
________, “Battle of Iwo Jima and the Flag Raising: 23 February 1945.”
Probably a passage from one of Mr. Drake’s published works, this essay about Iwo Jima helped that battle become more personal to me. Iwo Jima had more fame and glory than Okinawa. Nevertheless, both were characterized by the savage struggle between two races who each believed to be the superior race; also, the Japanese refused to admit that when they were defeated, they were truly defeated. In many ways, Okinawa was Iwo Jima re-lived on a larger scale.
________, “Letter to Gus.”
Mr. Drake’s letter to his friend recalls the story of Commander Robert W. Brodie, Jr.’s death. All three served together on the USS Haynsworth-DD Ingraham for part of the war. Mr. Drake related incidents about the then-new USS Haynsworth, which fought at Okinawa. I learned what goes on aboard a warship–the radar “pip,” the TBS voice radio, the fog trouble, and the tragedy of not being able to save a ship full of trapped men.
Meadows, Al, United States Marine Corps (ret.). Interview by author, January 3, 2000, America Online Instant Message.
Mr. Meadows told me that a typical veteran’s thoughts when he hears the word “Okinawa” are “cold, mud, shooting, being shot at….” These are some of the lasting impressions that war made on many teenaged American soldiers. Mr. Meadows was as relieved as the rest of the world was when he found that Okinawa was the last battle of the Pacific theater and that he could return home in September of 1945.
Zuffi, Joseph, Infantryman, United States Army (ret). Interview by the author, January 3, 2000, America Online Instant Message.
Mr. Zuffi served in combat infantry with Company I, 17th Infantry, 7th Division at Okinawa. He was not at Okinawa for the entire campaign, which lasted from April 1 to June 21, but he felt he experienced more than enough. He said, “Well, you hit it on the head…. The word ‘Okinawa’ is thrillingly traumatic…. What would any eighteen-year-old feel about such an uprooting in their life? Yes, to the rest of the world there is World War II, but to me there is ‘Okinawa.'”
________. Interview by the author, March 3, 2000, America Online Instant Message.
“Little old me?” he asked me. Just as in the previous interview, Mr. Zuffi was surprised had anything to share that I might like to hear. We talked for a short while about his experience as an infantryman at Okinawa. Though he only served in Okinawa little more than a month, the experience was enough to impact his life forever.
Drake, Leo, United States Navy (ret.), to Megan Tzeng, Cleveland, January 9, 2000. E-mail in the hand of Megan Tzeng.
In addition to sending me the numerous documents previously listed, Mr. Drake responded to my questions about how the Battle of Okinawa left lasting impressions on him, how it was a personal turning point, and how he thought it was a turning point in a more general sense.
Fox, Bill, Sergeant, United States Marine Corps (ret.), to Megan Tzeng, Cleveland, January 6, 2000. E-mail in the hand of Megan Tzeng.
In response to my inquiries, this veteran shared with me his memories, experiences, and lasting impressions from fighting at Okinawa. He reminisced about many mental and physical hardships the soldiers faced. He told of soldiers witnessing their companions being shot down. He remembered days of having no shelter or showers and slogging through the mud carrying all their equipment. Bill Fox was sent home in November, 1945 after being injured in a severe typhoon that tossed around huge B-29s and other such bombers.
________, to Megan Tzeng, Cleveland, February 22, 2000. E-mail in the hand of Megan Tzeng.
The end of the war did not mean that everything instantly returned to normal. Cities had been leveled into nothing but rubble, and “there were so many bodies covered by the collapsed buildings that they could not be removed and the stench was overwhelming.” Images like these helped me to see the difference between the ideology of why the war needed to be fought and the reality and tragedy of the actual fighting.
Gardner, Frank, Sergeant, United States Marine Corps (ret.), Virginia, to Megan Tzeng, Cleveland, January 4, 2000. E-mail in the hand of Megan Tzeng.
Mr. Gardner wrote a poem called “Vow on Okinawa,” inspired by his experience at Okinawa and other Pacific islands. In it, he wondered why all his friends had been killed, while he survived. “He had a realization…as he felt the hand of God. A pact was made that night in June of nineteen forty-five: A vow to God by that Marine…if he got home alive. He’d make a contribution felt among his fellow man. He’d work to serve his country well, according to God’s plan.” Mr. Gardner also sent me several of the letters he wrote to his mother describing every day life on Okinawa before the think of the fighting began.
________, Virginia, to Megan Tzeng, Cleveland, January 4, 2000. E-mail in the hand of Megan Tzeng.
I learned the basics about Frank Gardner’s Okinawa experience and a brief comparison of the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. In response to my inquiry about Okinawa’s impact on history, Mr. Gardner explained, “I don’t know about any Japanese decisions, but I know that President Truman, appalled by the casualties on Iwo Jima and Okinawa, decided to drop the atom bomb to force the Japanese surrender and not have to invade the homeland.”
Truman, Harry S, United States President, Washington, D.C., to Dr. Karl T Compton, President of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, December 16, 1945. On-line version of the letter: “Letter from President Truman to Dr. Compton,” http://www.whistlestop.org/study_collections/bomb/large/background/bmb4-1.htm
I was excited to find this letter available to the Internet users. President Truman congratulated Dr. Compton for writing a comprehensive article in Atlantic Monthly of the atomic bomb. He mentioned that Secretary of War Stimpson was also assembling facts and drawing similar conclusions about why the bomb was dropped and what would have happened if it hadn’t been.
Zuffi, Joseph, infantryman, United States Army (ret.), Burlingame, to Megan Tzeng, Cleveland, January 3, 2000. E-mail in the hand of Megan Tzeng.
Mr. Zuffi landed on Okinawa after the fighting had already begun. The terrible conditions of war can be inferred from sentences like the following: “What does any lowly infantryman know but the horrible sounds and fears?” and “I was in combat for little more than a month, just long enough to appreciate what far better people than me had to endure for so much longer.”
“Battle of the Pacific: Baka Bomb.” Time, May 7, 1945, 46 & 48.
This informative source provided a specific description of the baka bomb, a different kind of suicide weapon that the Japanese introduced during the Okinawa campaign. A man would steer a glider loaded with the bomb on a one-way course to his target.
“Battle of the Pacific: Okinawa’s Price.” Time, April 23, 1945, 34 & 36.
The article discussed the fighting at Kakazu Ridge on Okinawa and all the casualties there. It reported Japanese kamikaze successes and failures. Unlike the Japanese propaganda machine, the American media neither grossly exaggerated victory nor hid defeat in order to keep national morale high.
“Battle of the Pacific: Play that Failed–First Installments–Buck’s Battle.” Time, April 16, 1945, 31-32.
This article demonstrated how the nominal glory of Japanese Divine Wind Forces usually ended in the harsh reality of failure. Even the super-battleship Yamato failed on its suicide mission. Furthermore, there was generally a failure rate of over fifty percent in kamikaze missions. A section about Lt. General Simon Buckner, commander of the ground action on Okinawa showed me his attractive character and leadership abilities.
“Battle of the Pacific: Shuri’s Fall.” Time, June 11, 1945, 30.
Even as rain reduced the roads to an oozing mess, Americans reduced Shuri Castle and Naha–major defense points along the Shuri-Naha-Yonabaru defense line–to rubble. By this time, casualties on both sides ran high, but the end was finally in sight.
Compton, Karl T., Dr., “If the Atomic Bomb Had Not Been Used.” Atlantic Monthly, 1945, 54-56. Found online on January 1, 2000 at http://www.whistlestop.org/study_collections/bomb/large/background/
Writing in late 1945, Dr. Compton introduced the controversy, the background, the questions of morality, and the consequences of the atomic bomb. He also addressed the speculation about what might have happened if Truman had not taken advantage of the bombs, and had carried out plans to invade mainland Japan.
“Fighting Fronts: Okinawa: Trap Sprung.” Newsweek, June 11, 1945, 46 & 48 & 50.
Newsweek magazine reports the fall of Shuri Castle, a major Japanese defense point on Okinawa. After fierce days of fighting, Japan retreated, re-drawing its defensive line slightly further south on Okinawa.
“Fighting Fronts: In Okinawa Mud.” Newsweek, June 4, 1945, 42 & 44.
The Americans, despite gloomy weather, mud, and torrential rain, took Naha, another Japanese defense point. This forced the Japanese defense line to retreat, except for its stronghold at Shuri Castle. The article featured a picture whose caption read “Marines blast Japs from their caves in the bloody campaign to win Okinawa.”
“Fighting Fronts: Salvage at Sea–Okinawa: Sacrifice.” Newsweek, May 28, 1945, 44 & 46.
This was an exciting article about the struggle to save the USS Franklin, which was hit several times by enemy planes. The bloody sacrifice of tens of thousands of men was evident in the story of American and Japanese soldiers charging each others’ positions on Sugar Loaf Hill, Conical Hill, and others. In the end, about 95,000 Japanese, 95,000 Okinawans, and 12,000 Americans sacrificed their lives. “We may not live through this thing,” encouraged one officer, “but if we hold…we will save the lives of hundreds of Marines tomorrow.”
“Japanese Mentality as a Factor in War.” Newsweek, June 11, 1945, 50.
This source explored the roots of the Japanese mentality starting from the ancient code of the warrior lord, the bushido. The piece attributed the high Japanese death count to the Japanese soldiers’ belief that ultimate loyalty to the Emperor required death in battle. Since “a vague stigma attaches to the survivor of even a successful campaign,” I was able to imagine how suicidal Colonel Yahara must have felt, upon hearing of the formal surrender of the 32nd Army on Okinawa from an American prison camp.
“The Upside-Down Japanese Mind: It Makes Our Defeat Seem Easy.” Newsweek, June 25, 1945, 56.
This article put forth the Japanese suicide defense mentality: “If the enemy approaches by sea, destroy his transports on the high seas. If he approaches our shores, crush him at the water’s edge. And if he lands, all that has to be done is annihilate him on land.” Why, then, did such a black and white, logical strategy fail? As Lieutenant General Ushijima tardily told his men, “You must realize that material power usually overcomes spiritual power in the present war. The enemy is clearly our superior in machines. Do not depend on your spirits overcoming this enemy” (Leckie 35. See Secondary Sources, page 28: Leckie, Robert. Okinawa: the Last Battle of World War II.). America simply was more technologically advanced and possessed greater numbers of men and resources.
Garrett, Rube, “A Marine Diary: My Experiences on Guadalcanal,” Online. Available: March 4, 2000. http://gnt.com/~jrube/.
The impressions of soldiers at Guadalcanal were very similar to those at Okinawa; many soldiers fought in both battles. This diary was a touching, eyewitness account of the Battle of Guadalcanal. “Guadalcanal was not a name but an emotion….” stated Mr. Garrett.
“Nagasaki Journey,” Online. Available: February 20, 2000. http://www.exploratorium.edu/nagasaki/journey/journey25.html.
Many times when students like me study World War II fifty-five years later, the facts may filter down, devoid of the feelings and atrocious realities that people in wartime experienced. This site bridged that gap by compiling quotes and photographs of the tragedy at Nagasaki, brought about by the tremendous casualty rate at Okinawa.
“Human memory has a tendency to slip, and critical judgment to fade…. Today…it may be difficult to recall the past, but these photographs will continue to provide us with an unwavering testimony of that time.” –Yosuke Yamahata
Astor, Gerald. Operation Iceberg: The Invasion and Conquest of Okinawa in World War II–an Oral History. New York: Donald I; Fine, Inc., 1995.
I love reading first-hand accounts of veterans. Astor has compiled a whole volume of stories from the veterans he interviewed. A narration supported by stories of the overall story of Operation Iceberg, the book is organized to convey experiences of the commanders and soldiers involved in this operation.
Belote, James H. and William M. Belote. Typhoon of Steel: The Battle for Okinawa. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1970.
This book, based on primary interviews, documents, and other first-hand stories from both sides, is a comprehensive account of the last campaign of World War II, before the atomic bombings that ended the war. .
Bergerud, Eric. Touched with Fire: The Land War in the South Pacific. New York: Viking Penguin, 1996.
The maps in this book helped me put each Pacific battle into perspective. One map with dated labeling the battles, was especially helpful. Descriptions of the land fighting on the Solomon Islands and New Guinea were typical of the entire war in the Pacific, a much more savage and hand-to-hand ordeal than in Europe. The book reveals the atrocities of all war.
Davidson, James West and others. Nation of Nations: A Concise Narrative of the American Republic. San Francisco: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1996.
I discovered general facts about major turning points in the Pacific theater such as the Battle of Coral Sea, Midway, and Guadalcanal. A map of the Pacific Theater with the battles and invasion paths labeled was particularly useful.
Dower, John W. War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War. New York: Pantheon Books, 1986.
War Without Mercy explores the political, racial, and ideological aspects behind the brutal fighting between two peoples who believed themselves to be the most superior race. Unafraid of the hard facts, Dower exposes the fierce, uncompromising nature of total war in the Pacific.
Feifer, George. Tennozan: The Battle of Okinawa and the Atomic Bomb. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1992.
“TENNOZAN: A site where a sixteenth-century Japanese ruler staked his entire fate on a single battle. It has come to mean any decisive struggle.” This definition aptly fits the Battle of Okinawa. To Americans and Japanese alike, the tennozan of Okinawa was not simply another stepping stone, but the very doorstep to mainland Japan. It was also the last significant battle before the start of the atomic age, which began with the obliteration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The fighting wiped out the Japanese army, crippled American troops, and demolished Okinawan life, tradition, and culture. “In retrospect, the battle for Okinawa can be described only in the grim superlatives of war. In size, scope and ferocity, it dwarfed the Battle of Britain…probably never before in any three months of the war had the enemy suffered so hugely, and the final toll of American casualties was the highest experienced in any campaign against the Japanese…. Okinawa was the largest combined [amphibious] operation, a ‘no quarter’ struggle fought on, under, and over the sea and land,” said military historian Hanson W. Baldwin. This book covers everything from the context of the battle, including Japanese and American culture, values, and tradition, to close combat on the sub-human, Pacific battlefield. This author’s compilation of first-hand testimonies tells a story that must never be forgotten.
Foster, Simon. Okinawa 1945: Final Assault on the Empire. New York: Arms and Armour Press, 1994.
A vivid account of the story of Okinawa, this book explored the naval aspects of the battle in detail, but still related a complete account. The book’s photo insert that supported the text descriptions assisted me in making the naval side of the battle clear. Quoted materials from officers and commanders on both sides also proved beneficial to my perception of this eighty-day campaign.
Frank, Benis M. Okinawa: The Great Island Battle. New York: Elsevier-Dutton, 1978.
With a creative and attractive writing style, Frank eloquently tells the story of Operation Iceburg, the code name for Okinawa. The inclusion of statistics, quotations, and photographs enhanced my understanding of the battle from both sides, American and Japanese.
Hallas, James H. Killing Ground on Okinawa: The Battle for Sugar Loaf Hill. Westport: Praeger, 1996.
Killing Ground investigated the impact of the entire Okinawan campaign and also explained in detail the Battle for Sugar Loaf Hill. The Americans charged twelve times and lost thousands of men before finally securing this locale. Although this was only one battle in the campaign, many others were strikingly similar.
Harper, Stephen. Miracle of Deliverance: The Case for the Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. New York: Stein and Day/Publishers, 1985.
Harper argues that the atomic bomb was a miracle of deliverance for millions of people. His eloquence conveys thousands of American soldiers’ feelings of relief and thankfulness when they unexpectedly discovered they would not, after all, have to die on mainland Japan. Due to Japanese military leaders’ consistent refusal to surrender despite certain defeat, Japan–soldiers, people, and land–would all have been exterminated had fighting continued interminably.
Hoyt, Edwin P. Closing the Circle: War in the Pacific, 1945. New York: Can Nostrand Reinhold Company, Inc., 1982.
Closing the Circle re-told the last three months of the war and fitted the events together like the pieces of a puzzle. Each final event or decision seems less controversial and unwise when seen “against the backdrop of the other events: the coming of the atomic bomb, the itch of the Russians to get into the war to share in the booty,…the difficult negotiations at Potsdam…and the internal events in Japan.” Full of abundant facts and historical analysis, this book guided me in drawing conclusions and explaining the rationale behind the choices that were made.
Leckie, Robert. Okinawa: The Last Battle of World War II. New York: Viking Penguin (Penguin Books USA, Inc.), 1995.
My interest in Okinawa was first sparked by this book. The descriptions and details it contained, as well as Leckie’s explanations and theories, supplied a wealth of information. I learned about the complexities involved in historic decisions like the Japanese surrender and the American decision to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Unlike many other sources, Leckie’s narrative showed both the American and Japanese points of view. I was intrigued by his description of the three Japanese commanders, each of whom had his own qualities to complement the others’ failings. Ushijima’s awe-inspiring presence and traditional views contrasted with strict but firebrand Cho, who was very aggressive and determined. Yahara, the youngest of the three, was intellectual and deliberate; he knew of America’s material strengths and strategies far better than the other Japanese leaders.
Miller, Nathan. War at Sea: A Naval History of World War II. New York: Scribner, 1995.
In this comprehensive volume on the World War II naval war, I learned the naval background to the Pacific war in general and the Battle of Okinawa in particular. Reading War at Sea helped me understand the significance and importance of more commonly known battles like Coral Sea, Midway, Guadalcanal, as well as other, more obscure ones, such as Attu, Tarawa, and Saipan.
Novosad, Charles, ed. The Nystrom Desk Atlas. Chicago: Nystrom (a division of Herff Jones, Inc.), 1994.
This atlas proved to be an invaluable resource when I needed to locate places related to the Pacific theater of operation. Using this source enabled me to find numerous locations on Okinawa and Japan.
Runyon, Marvin, Postmaster General/CEO. 1945: Victory at Last. World War II Remembered Series. Stamp Services Group, United States Postal Service, 1995.
This colorfully illustrated book gave brief summaries of important European and Pacific battles and events that made a great impact on the world, including the Battle of Okinawa.
Skates, John Ray. The Invasion of Japan: Alternatives to the Bomb. Columbia: University of Sound Carolina Press, 1994.
The author addressed the controversy surrounding the dropping of the atomic bombs. He argued against the bombs, analyzing the advantages of invading Japan and the oversights made by leaders at that time. Although I disagree with his opinion, reading an argument for the opposing point of view helped me to draw my own conclusions.
Van der Vat, Dan. The Pacific Campaign: World War II, the U.S.-Japanese Naval War. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991.
Van der Vat wrote a vivid narration of the clash between Japanese and American navies in the Pacific during World War II. He investigated the strategies, controversial relationships and decisions, and weapons employed by the two great sea powers.
Wainstock, Dennis D. The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb. Westport: Praeger Publishers, 1996.
Wainstock’s book is a political study of the decision behind using the atomic bomb. There are hundreds of factors to consider when contemplating this controversy. Was the bombing humane? Was it nearly the same as using regular bombers, as what the Americans had already been doing? Above all, how did Okinawa affect the bombing? Considering the questions raised by this book helped me to realize that Okinawa was indeed a crucial turning point in World War II.
Walker, J. Samuel. Prompt and Utter Destruction: Truman and the Use of the Atomic Bombs Against Japan. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1997.
Much of what Walked wrote corresponded exactly with my thoughts. Okinawa witnessed horrific devastation which wiped out the native people’s homes, culture, and way of life, not to mention those who were drafted into the Japanese Army. Compared to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Okinawa was worse off because the ten-week battle there destroyed more lives and property than did the atomic bombs.
Weintraub, Stanley. The Last Great Victory: The End of World War II, July/August 1945. New York: Truman Tally Books/Dutton, 1995.
An in-depth study of the last months of the war, this source included Okinawa, Operation Olympic (the planned land invasion of Japan), the atomic bombs, and their effects. Weintraub’s views strengthened my analysis of the Battle of Okinawa.
Zich, Arthur. The Rising Sun. World War II Series. Alexandria: Time-Life Books, Inc., 1977.
Via The Rising Sun, I received a rare glimpse into Japanese strategy, traditions, and homeland by anecdotal and factual passages, photos, and maps. Seeing the conflicts from the viewpoint of the “enemy” gave me a new perspective and understanding of World War II.
Collins, James L., Jr., Brigadier General, ed., The Marshall Cavendish Illustrated Encyclopedia of World War II, Vol. 21: “Okinawa: the Last Ordeal,” New York: Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 1972.
With pictorial descriptions, this World War II encyclopedia contained its own analysis and drew its own conclusions about the events and facts I already knew. The article supplied yet another dimension to my understanding of the war.
Collins, James L., Jr., Brigadier General, ed., The Marshall Cavendish Illustrated Encyclopedia of World War II, Vol. 10: “The Invasion of Italy/Guadalcanal,” New York: Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 1972.
This source provided useful background information on the Pacific War including the Battles of New Guinea, Guadalcanal, and the Aleutian Islands. Photos and maps contributed to my perception of what had happened. Guadalcanal was another turning point in the Pacific that put the Japanese on the defensive and set the stage for the Battle of Okinawa.
“Okinawa,” Encyclopædia Britannica, Vol. 16, Chicago: William Benton, Publisher, 1972.
While conducting my research, I noticed that some sources referred to Okinawa as “Okinawa, Japan.” Others commented that it was “south of Japan.” Utterly confused, I consulted encyclopedias for answers and, in Encyclopædia Britannica, discovered that Okinawa was a “pre-World War II Japanese prefecture (district).”
Pyle, Kenneth B., “Okinawa,” The World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 14, Chicago: World Book, Inc., a Scott Fetzer Company, 1997.
Okinawa, a Japanese prefecture, was part of Japan’s huge East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. It remained so until the United States conquered it by June 21, 1945. America finally turned Northern Okinawa over to Japan in 1954 and Southern Okinawa in 1972. The United States still maintains several Air Force bases there today.
“Ryukyu Islands,” Encyclopædia Brittanica, Vol. 16, Chicago: William Benton, Publisher, 1972.
Okinawa is not only an island, but a group of islands, as well as a district. The Okinawan group of islands is made up of the central Ryukyu Islands (The north part of the Ryukyus is Amami-gunt(, and the south part is the Sakishima Islands). Understanding these distinctions made a big difference in my understanding of entire picture.
“World Wars,” Encyclopædia Brittanica, Vol. 23, Chicago: William Benton, Publisher, 1972.
I drew a wealth of information from this article, including statistics, dates, and insights into Japanese strategies. The shift in battle strategies as the war continued was clearly detailed in this article.
Bernstein, Barton J. “Understanding the Atomic Bomb and the Japanese Surrender: Missed Opportunities, Little-Known Near Disasters, and Modern Memory.” Diplomatic History Vol. 19, No. 2 (Spring 1995): 227-273.
Probing a new position concerning the use of the atomic bomb, Bernstein probes what could have happened under slightly different circumstances at the end of World War II. Rather than focusing on why the bombs were used, he focused on why a huge land invasion of Japan was not realistic.
Bix, Herbert P. “Hiroshima in History and Memory: A Symposium. (Japan’s Delayed Surrender: A Reinterpretation).” Diplomatic History Vol. 19, No. 2 (Spring 1995): 197-225.
In World War II, the Japanese had a traditional belief that required soldiers to loyally sacrifice their lives for the Emperor. To live and be captured in war was a disgrace that would mar a family forever. This became evident when studying the complexities of Japan’s administration in World War II and how difficult it was for a nation with such a philosophy to finally accept unconditional surrender.
Walker, J. Samuel. “The Decision to Use the Bomb: A Historiographical Update.” Diplomatic History Vol. 14, No. 1 (Winter 1990): 97-114.
Walker’s article opened with the opinion of Paul Fussell, who challenged opposition to the atomic bomb. He contended that many who criticized the bombs were not soldiers fighting in the Pacific at that time and did not understand the relief that came when the war suddenly ended. “When the atom bombs were dropped and news began to circulate that ‘Operation Olympic’ would not, after all, be necessary, when we learned to our astonishment that we would not be obliged in a few months to rush up the beaches near Tokyo assault-firing while being machine-gunned, mortared, and shelled, for all the practiced phlegm of our tough facades we broke down and cried with relief and joy,” Fussell explained.
The World at War, Vol. 23: “Pacific: February 1942 – July 1945.”
This well-done documentary, with old photos, footage, and maps to explain American strategy and demonstrate the graphic and horrifying realities of war. After viewing this tape, I clearly understood the importance and sequence of each battle. The overall chronology helped shed light on the complexities and confusion of the island–hopping campaign.
“Battle of Okinawa Stats,” Online. Available: December 26, 1999. http://www.cybertours.com/~awriter/okibattle.html.
This Internet web site provided a simple summary of American and Japanese commanders, forces, and casualties. All the basic information about the Battle of Okinawa was concisely summed up in one glance.
Kent, William, “Two Special Veterans,” Online. Available: October 25, 1999. http://www.jacksonville.net/~wkent/okinawa.htm.
Criminal defense lawyer William Kent related the story of his father, who fought at Okinawa. Sgt. H. L. Kent was one of the many quiet heroes. What I hadn’t realized was that all the men who fought were real heroes, not merely the relatively few who won medals. The webpage helped to establish a more personal link between me and the soldiers fighting at Okinawa.
Gonzales, Joseph A., TSgt, “Kadena Commemorates Battle of Okinawa,” Online. Available: December 26, 1999.
Over 600 American and Japanese veterans attended this June 22 ceremony in Kadena AB, Japan. “Today we honor our veterans, especially those who gave their lives to shape our future,” said Brig. Gen. William T. Hobbins, 18th Wing commander. “We must make certain the conditions which permitted the war in the Pacific to occur are never, ever repeated. We owe it to those who suffered and those who died, and to the proud veterans whose bravery and sacrifice served as hallmarks for the forces that followed.” Although today Hiroshima and Nagasaki are more famous because the bombs killed so many people with one blow, more civilians and soldiers died at the Battle of Okinawa than in both bombings put together.
“World War II: Battle for Iwo Jima,” Online. Available: November 11, 1999. http://www.usmc.mil/history.nsf/Table+of+Contents/77f992b2acb682eb852564d70059c642? OpenDocument&ExpandSection+2.
Here I received a basic overview of the Battle of Iwo Jima: its strategy, importance, commanders, casualties, and a chronological presentation of events. Iwo Jima was a foretaste of further horrors that reached a climax at Okinawa.
“World War II: Campaign for Okinawa,” Online. Available: November 11, 1999. http://www.usmc.mil/history.nsf/Table+of+Contents/77f992b2acb682eb852564d70059c642? OpenDocument&ExpandSection+3,2#_Section3.
This webpage provided me with basic information during my initial research (see annotation above). The broad perspective helped me understand the rudiments of my topic and provided a knowledge base from which I delved deeper into other sources.
1 Studs Terkel, The Good War: An Oral History of World War Two (New York: the New Press, 1984), 524.
2 Simon Foster, Okinawa 1945: Final Assault on the Empire (New York: Arms and Armour Press, 1994), 169.
3 James H. Hallas, Killing Ground on Okinawa: The Battle for Sugar Loaf Hill (Westport: Praeger, 1996), 2.
4 James West Davidson and others, Nation of Nations: A Concise Narrative of the American Republic (San Francisco: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1996), 748.
5 Nathan Miller, War at Sea: A Naval History of World War II (New York: Scribner, 1995), 266.
6 James H. Belote and William M. Belote, Typhoon of Steel: The Battle for Okinawa (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1970), 17.
7 Robert Leckie, Okinawa: The Last Battle of World War II (New York: Viking Penguin Books USA, Inc., 1995), 28-31.
8 “The Upside-Down Japanese Mind: It Makes Our Defeat Seem Easy,” Newsweek, June 25, 1945, 36.
9 Benis M. Frank, Okinawa: The Great Island Battle (New York: Elsevier-Dutton, 1978), 4.
10 Leckie 49.
11 James L. Collins, jr. ed., Brigadier General, consultant ed., The Marshall Cavendish Illustrated Encyclopedia of WWII, Vol. 21: Okinawa: the Last Ordeal, (New York: Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 1972), 2832.
12 Al Meadows, United States Marine Corps (retired), to Megan Tzeng, Ohio, January 3, 2000, E-mail in the hand of Megan Tzeng, Cleveland.
13 Frank Gardner, Sergeant, United States Marine Corps (retired), Virginia, to Megan Tzeng, Ohio, January 4, 2000, E-mail in the hand of Megan Tzeng, Cleveland.
14 Leckie 78.
15 Leckie 75.
16 Al Meadows, United States Marine Corps (retired), interview by the author, January 3, 2000, Cleveland, America Online Instant Message, Cleveland.
18 Collins 2823.
19 Foster 94.
20 Meadows interview.
21 Leo Drake, United States Navy (retired), to Megan Tzeng, Ohio, January 9, 2000, E-mail in the hand of Megan Tzeng, Cleveland.
22 Hallas xiii.
23 Hiromichi Yahara, Colonel, 32nd Imperial Army, The Battle for Okinawa: A Japanese Officer’s Eyewitness Account of the Last Great Campaign of World War II (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1995), 147.
24 Stanley Weintraub, The Last Great Victory: The End of World War II, July/August 1945 (New York: Truman Tally Books/Dutton, 1995), 51.
25 George Fiefer, Tennozan: The Battle of Okinawa and the Atomic Bomb (New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1992), 513.
26 Yahara 34.
27 Leckie 15.
28 Leckie 13.
29 Leckie 210.
30 William Kent, “Two Special Veterans,” Online, Available: October 25, 1999, http://www.jacksonville.net/~wkent/okinawa.htm, 1.
31 Hallas xiii.
32 Weintraub 57.
33 Terkel 524.
34 Leckie 207.
35 Collins 2839.
36 Joe Zuffi, infantryman, United States Army, interview by the author, January 3, 2000, Cleveland, America Online Instant Message, Cleveland.
37 The official ceremony took place aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, September 2, 1945.
38 Miller 530.
39 Drake 4.
By: Megan Tzeng