Skip to comments.Assault on Japanese island began on Easter
Posted on 03/28/2005 4:47:34 PM PST by SwinneySwitch
It is 8:30 a.m. Easter Sunday morning, April 1, 1945. The largest amphibious fleet ever assembled in the Pacific Theater is about to begin the invasion of Ryukyu Island, better known as Okinawa.
The event is codenamed Iceberg. It involves 180,000 combat-ready Army and Marine troops, 1,320 ships of all types, the 20th Army Air Force, and the Navy and Marines Tactical Air Force, a total of 548,000 men.
I'm an 18-year-old from Wilkinsburg, Pa., an aviation storekeeper striker assigned to an elite group identified as Acorn 29. This group was formed six months earlier and integrated into a Marine Air Wing in the desert at Twenty-Nine Palms, Calif. We're nicknamed "Scholly's Desert Rats, the Foreign Legion of the United States Navy."
I'm aboard the Danish merchant ship, MS Day Star, along with some 2,000 other Marines. We're all wondering where we are now after leaving Port Huneme, Calif., 40 days ago.
Then we heard, "Group 3, board your landing craft."
Unlike the invasion of Iwo Jima two months before, with heavy fighting on the beaches and with many casualties, the Japanese are not attacking our landing forces. By Easter Sunday evening, we have established a sizeable beachhead and are moving inland.
There are also very few air attacks, although the Kamikazes succeed in hitting the battleship Virginia, two destroyers and four landing craft. American losses the first day are reported as 28 dead, 27 missing, and 104 wounded. This is so light, compared to earlier island assaults, that today, April 1, Easter Sunday, is being called "Love Day."
All that changes by the third day when the battle for Okinawa really begins in earnest.
From April 1 to June 21, 1945, months of the most intense fighting in the Pacific ensue. The Japanese finally surrender. American losses total 50,000 dead, wounded or missing in action. Japanese losses total 110,000 dead, 7,400 taken prisoner and 7,800 aircraft destroyed.
Now the preparation for the invasion of Japan itself begins. Those of us still alive begin to wonder if our luck will run out.
I thank God for President Harry Truman and his decision to use the atomic bombs that ended World War II on August 10, 1945.
Intelligence documents released within the last 20 years reveal that, contrary to our knowledge and expectations at the time, the Japanese had approximately 2,300 aircraft of various types hidden throughout their homeland islands to be used as Kamikaze guided missiles against our troopships in any invasion attempt.
They also had armed and trained old men, women and children to fight on the beaches, backed by approximately 125,000 trained military who would then fight to the death to defend their homeland. This holocaust could have destroyed Japan as a nation and left the United States with tens of thousands of additional casualties.
On this Easter Sunday, 60 years later, I am eternally grateful for the wonderful life I have been allowed to share with my loved ones. Please join me in prayer for those who have given their lives in service for our country, those wounded and hospitalized, those currently in harm's way and those soon to go. Please read the 23rd Psalm. God Bless the United States of America.
Ralph S. Long, Ph.D., of Corpus Christi, is a retired lieutenant colonel, U.S. Air Force. The statistical data in his column was taken from "2194 Days of War," a chronology of World War II.
The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name' sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: For thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; Thou annointest my head with oil; My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.
Wow... words fail me.
Weren't the Iwo Jima landings largely unopposed, with the heavy fighting and massive casualities occurring inland?
And while you remember Okinawa, say a prayer for my brother. Some of you may have heard about the roadside bomb in Afghan that killed 4 soldiers. My brother was in the vehicle in front the one that got hit. He had to deal with the bodies, lift them into the helicopter and stare at them on the air-evac flight back to base. He's still dealing with the shock.
Battle of Okinawa
"Okinawa was the largest amphibious invasion of the Pacific campaign and the last major campaign of the Pacific War. More ships were used, more troops put ashore, more supplies transported, more bombs dropped, more naval guns fired against shore targets than any other operation in the Pacific. More people died during the Battle of Okinawa than all those killed during the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Casualties totaled more than 38,000 Americans wounded and 12,000 killed or missing, more than 107,000 Japanese and Okinawan conscripts killed, and perhaps 100,000 Okinawan civilians who perished in the battle."
God bless our heroes ..
and we were right to drop the bombs...
My father was in boot camp in Mississippi, getting final training for the invasion of mainland Japan. I too am thankful that the atomic bomb brought an earlier end to the war.
FWIW, There is no inland on Iwo Jima. The fighting was very bloody on the beaches. The turning point in taking Mt. Suribachi was when US Navy destroyers closed to 500 yards off shore and blasted the caves on the mountain as if the ships themselves were Marine artillery or tanks.
The ships had to be very careful to steam on only two sides of the island so that their naval gunfire wouldn't hit ships on the other side of the island from rounds that missed or bounced off.
What you may have been thinking of is that on Iwo Jima the bloodiest part of the fighting took place AFTER Mt.Suribachi was captured.
Prayers up for your brother, Z!
What is your brother's first name, Zhang?
Prayers up in any case, and pass along my thanks for his service to his country.
The Okinawa landing from the point of view of the Landing Craft sailors. Great pictures (to protect their bandwidth, won't link any here).
Iwo Jima...Red Blood on Black Sand
Thanks for the great link.
But this is PC America, 21st century and, well.. gee, you shouldn't bring up W.W.II battles.
With charges of murder against Army Capt. Roger Maynulet and charges of murder pending against Marine Lt. Pantano -- plus there's that inhuman torture horror of them panties and barking dogs -- this could spur proactive efforts to charge W.W.II vets with shooting enemy troops that turned out to be unarmed and just plain being mean otherwise. There's no time limit on "murder" ya know
I bet right now Washington civilians are putting together a task force to bring charges against the W.W.II old coots hoping to avoid being embarrassed by the MSM and ACLU.
And people nowdays get their panties in a wad over 1000 men killed in Iraq.
My dad went ashore with the amtraks in the Philippines, was scheduled to be in the invasion of Japan. He said he is grateful for the A bombs that prevented having to make the invasion.
His name is Chris.
And the names of the men who died (all enlisted):
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