Battle of Okinawa: the bloodiest assault of the Pacific War
The US assault on Okinawa 75 years ago was the bloodiest of the Pacific War, an 83-day slog that cost 250,000 lives. Saul David describes a battle so terrible that it persuaded President Truman to reject an invasion of Japan and turn instead to the atomic bomb.
Boy Soldiers: The Secret War in Okinawa
There are many films, fiction and nonfiction, about the Battle of Okinawa. Many in the latter group had been drafted into home defense or labor units, the most famous being the Himeyuri Student Nurse Corps, 222 teen girls who served as nurses behind the lines. Of this number 123 died, most by suicide to avoid capture. The focus of “Boy Soldiers: The Secret War in Okinawa,” a documentary co-directed by Chie Mikami and Hanayo Oya, is on the “hidden war” of spies and guerrilla fighters. Unlike the Himeyuri girls, who have previously been the subject of tear-jerking movies, this lesser-known side of the battle has been ignored by the local entertainment industry.
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Okinawa: The Afterburn documentary film portrays The Legacy Of War
72 years after U.S. forces launched one of World War II`s bloodiest chapters (the Battle of Okinawa) director John Junkerman is premiering his documentary film `Okinawa: The Afterburn` in Hawaii. `Okinawa: The Afterburn` has been called the most comprehensive film of its kind and praised for its even-handed examination of the legacy of war, discrimination and sacrifice as it sheds light on the complex history shared by Okinawans, Japanese and Americans. The two-hour film begins with rarely seen archival footage of the 1945 Battle of Okinawa in which some 240,000 people lost their lives, including one-quarter to one-third of Okinawa`s civilian population.
Battlefields and bunkers: Exploring Okinawa's World War II history
With the exception of the march across the Philippine island of Luzon, the battle of Okinawa was the only major American land campaign in the Pacific during World War II. Launched on April 1, 1945, it was fought in villages and towns as well as across the island's forbidding mountain ridges and valleys. For the American attackers, the battle was an operation of logistics as well as military strategy. "Never before ... had there been an invasion armada the equal of the 1,600 seagoing ships carrying 545,000 American GIs and Marines that streamed across the Pacific," wrote historian Robert Leckie in Delivered From Evil: The Saga of World War II. "In firepower, troops, and tonnage it eclipsed even the more famous D day in Normandy."
Japanese website tells realities of Battle of Okinawa with video testimonies
Okinawa Prefecture opened a website featuring testimonies from survivors of the Battle of Okinawa to help people around the world learn the realities of one of the bloodiest fights in WWII. The "Peace Learning Archive" site was made accessible on June 23, the 67th anniversary of the end of the battle. The archive displays texts, photos and videos from prefectural museums. Visitors to the site (http://peacelearning.jp) can explore a 1945 map to view the witness accounts. The Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum has collected 600 testimonies from survivors of the battle. The website offers 20 video testimonies, but the prefecture will increase the number to 72 by the end of March 2013.
WWII marine Arlo Becker shares story of surviving Okinawa invasion
"When we got to Okinawa, as far as you could see in every direction, there were ships ... it seemed like there were thousands of them. We always had machine gun fire, mortars and artillery coming in ... it was pretty constant. You hardly never saw them. They were in caves or hidden, and you almost never knew where they were. ... The Jap would come up, fire a round, go down, move over, come up, fire another round ... I figured out what he was doing, so the last time he came up ... he shouldn`t have."
A Japanese civilian recalls the Battle of Okinawa: I lost my fiancé and my younger sister and her daughter
Haruko Oshiro: Even today after 60 years have passed since WW2, I am convinced that we should never repeat the hell of war. In my youth, every day was coloured with war. I had no doubt about Japan winning the war, because l was taught that Japan was the kingdom of god. We were ready to fight anytime against the enemy... In those days Americans were considered brutes... We cut off our hair and smeared our faces with soot from the bottom of pots and pans to make ourselves look ugly to avoid the American soldiers... Working as an employee for U.S. forces... l realized that we (Japan) had been fighting against this rich country.
Grandson of the commander of Japanese forces on Okinawa tours battlefields to find answers
Sadamitsu Ushijima was told his paternal grandfather was a kind man. How, then, could his grandfather have ordered his soldiers to fight to the last man during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945? Hoping to find an answer to that question, Ushijima, an elementary school teacher, has travelled to Okinawa many times since 1994, touring the battlefields. His grandfather was Lt. Gen. Mitsuru Ushijima, the Japanese Imperial Army commander of forces on Okinawa. Ushijima committed ritual suicide with a sword at Mabuni, on the southern tip of Okinawa's main island where the last fierce battle took place, on June 23 1945.
Okinawan Seiei Kiyuna had been taught that Americans were evil
As a child growing up on Okinawa, 12-year-old Seiei Kiyuna had been taught that Americans were evil. His older brother, Seiji, joined the Japanese Imperial Navy to become a kamikaze pilot. With the landing of American forces looming in March 1945, the Kiyuna family and tens of thousands of others were relocated to the island's north. On April 1, the first group of Allied forces landed on Okinawa's west coast - and the Kiyuna family fled to the mountains. "We were told that once you got caught, you would be violated if you were a woman and brutally killed if you were a man." One day, 5 Americans came to their mountain hideout...
Okinawa still full of World War II bombs
Under a burning sun, 1st Lt. Toshikazu Nakano squats in a muddy pit at the edge of a housing development and brushes rocks away from a shiny metal object stuck firmly in the ground. He stops for a moment and shouts orders to the rest of his team. "This one might explode. Everyone take cover." Like many former WWII battlefields all over the world, Okinawa - the site of some of World War II's most fiercest combat - is filled with unexploded bombs, rusted and often half buried. About 10,000 tonnes of unexploded ordnance was left scattered across the island - and they are the misfortune of construction crews, divers and unsuspecting kids.
Marine recalls last American battle of World War II - The invasion of Okinawa (Article no longer available from the original source)
63 years ago Bud Hindsley was a Marine corporal participating in the last American battle of WWII: Okinawa. Tracing a map with a finger, he recalled about the battle: "When I saw my first Japanese dead, I vomited." One morning he found himself 40 feet from where a group of officers on a ridge reviewed a battlefield. One of those men was a 3-star Army general Simon Bolivar Buckner. "You never saw generals up in the front line," Hindsley recalled, adding that Buckner had declared himself satisfied with the area. Only moments later Buckner was killed by a Japanese artillery shell.
Court: Japanese Imperial Army behind WW2 mass suicide in Okinawa
Japanese judges have dismissed a libel case against Nobel prize-winning author Kenzaburo Oe, who was charged of lying about the Japan's war time past. Oe's book "Okinawa Notes" tells that the Japanese military ordered hundreds of civilians to commit suicide as American troops gained ground during The Second World War. A retired army officer and another man said the military never gave the order, but the court dismissed their claim. Analysts say the ruling vindicates Oe's views on Okinawa's history. The battle pitted 2 retired officers against Japan's best-known living author.
Veteran travels back to tour Okinawa after donating 200 photos
Robert Rock, who was part of the American invasion force for the Battle of Okinawa during World War II, is travelling back to the once blood-drenched island. He also donated over 200 treasured photos about pre- and post-invasion Okinawa to Ryukyu America Historical Research Society in Okinawa. Rock, a U.S. Army first lieutenant with the 10th Army Corps of Engineers, photographed the island from a reconnaissance plane - and on the ground - in the days and months after WWII ended. "It was just like in the movies," he described wading onshore with other U.S. troops from their landing crafts.
Counterstrike: Imperial army 'forced' Okinawa mass suicides
Researchers of the 1945 Battle of Okinawa agree that the Imperial army "forced and steered" civilians to commit mass suicide during the only full-scale ground battle in Japan during World War II. Hirofumi Hayashi, an authority on modern Japanese history, expressed the view in a statement passed on to the textbook-screening panel, which is deliberating requests to reinstate references about the military's role in forcing civilians to commit suicide. Hayashi said he responded to a request from the Textbook Authorization Council, which advises the education minister, and had asked a number of researchers on the battle to file their views.
Battle over Okinawa world war II history rages on
For historian Masayasu Oshiro, who has documented the sufferings of communities that were caught in the only battle fought on Japanese soil between the Imperial Army and US troops, the facts are clear. "I have recorded countless stories told by aging Okinawan war survivors. They include horrifying accounts of how people committed mass suicide and murder under orders from the Japanese military." Such recordings are irksome for the Japanese govt that is keen to whitewash this part of history. Nobuaki Kinjo revealed that he had killed his mother and sister, believing that he was saving them from torture.
Historic Battle of Okinawa Anniversary - The storm of steel
Even as controversy over the end days of the Battle of Okinawa is rekindled, survivors will gather to pay homage to those who died. The Battle of Okinawa ended with 12,000 Americans and 107,500 Japanese troops killed, along with 42,000 Okinawa citizens dead. It began as Operation Iceberg, a military invasion American planners expected to be the stepping stone to attacks on mainland Japan. Instead, the Battle of Okinawa, combined 6 weeks later with atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima to end the conflict. Ceremonies remembering the tetsu no bow, the storm of steel that fell during 82 days of combat, will take place at Memorial Peace Prayer Park in Itoman.
Okinawa outcry grows over Japan textbook revision on WWII suicides
Momentum is gathering in an outcry over the Japanese education ministry ordering school history texts to play down the mass suicides by civilians during the Battle of Okinawa. More than 70,000 signatures have been collected, and 27 of the island’s 41 local assemblies have passed resolutions condemning the order. In April the education ministry directed publishers of history textbooks to alter descriptions of the mass suicides, eliminating references to the Imperial Japanese military’s direct role, by removing accounts that soldiers gave civilians hand grenades and showed them to kill themselves rather than surrender to the Americans.
Battle of Okinawa Japanese history book revision angers Okinawans
Japanese textbooks have removed statements that Okinawans were forced by Japanese soldiers to commit suicide during the Battle of Okinawa. The Education Ministry order is called a gross revision of history. The new verbage states "Mass suicides and killings took place among the residents using hand grenades given them.", deleting reference to the Japanese Army. Okinawans disagree: "Japanese military told local people women would be violated by the American military soldiers, and men would be run over by tanks, and said it`s better to die than be taken prisoner by the Americans." 94,000 Okinawans died during the battle, with 25% committing suicide.
Documentary featuring the Battle in Okinawa Himeyuri nurse corps
The Himeyuri corps consisted of 222 female students aged 15-19. They were pressed into service on March 23, 1945. On June 18 the corps was suddenly disbanded. Many set out in small groups from the caves they worked and hid in into the midst of the battle. Within days of the order, more than 100 girls were killed or took their own lives. A film featuring testimony from 22 recruits who cared for Japanese soldiers during the Battle in Okinawa is finally ready after 13 years. They expressed hope that the work helps young people realize how many lives were lost in the closing months of WWII. "We were educated to die bravely and we were prepared to do so."
Army private Ray Bursey recalls invasion of Okinawa, end of WWII (Article no longer available from the original source)
An Army private Ray Bursey can still remember wading ashore on Okinawa Island. "I was never more scared in my life, coming ashore that day. I can still remember the machine gun fire," said Bursey, a member of the 503rd Anti-Aircraft and Artillery Battalion. After being stationed on an island near Hawaii, his troop ship set sail west for the Army and Marine Corps invasion of Okinawa, April 1, 1945. "That morning, at 6 a.m., our battleships, cruisers and destroyers started shelling the island and the next day we were sent in. ... We had to hold our rifles above our heads to keep water out of the barrel."
Okinawa battle sites tours offer peeks into island's history (Article no longer available from the original source)
Living on Okinawa provides a unique chance to gain more knowledge of the largest amphibious assault and bloodiest World War 2 battle in the Pacific. There are historic battle sites all over the island. An individual wanting to learn more about the Battle of Okinawa can travel to these sites easily. But for those looking to visit some of the islands more remote battle sites, it is best done with a guide, says Gunnery Sgt. Richard Deuto, who leads tours for Marines and units. Recently, Deuto, a history enthusiast with an in-depth knowledge of the Battle of Okinawa, led a tour for 20 Marines with the 3rd Marine Division staff as they toured 8 sites.
Rare color photographs showing postwar Okinawa found (Article no longer available from the original source)
Seventy-four rare color photographs showing the images of Okinawa Prefecture after World War II have been found in a monastery, which donated the photographs to the Okinawa-based nonprofit organization Ryukyu America Historical Research Society. The photographs were taken by Neal Lawrence. The pictures offer a wanted glimpse into the postwar reconstruction period in Okinawa, because color still photographs from that era are extremely rare.
Okinawa tunnels of Japanese Navy Underground Headquarters (Article no longer available from the original source)
The Battle of Okinawa is often remembered as the final battle of World War II. Okinawa, just 64 miles long and two-18 miles wide, had numerous caves and other features that the Japanese utilized in constructing defenses. Col. Yahara initiated an ambitious campaign of digging enough tunnels and caves to move the entire 32nd Army and Navy underground. The Japanese were able to construct 60 miles of tunnels and numerous caves with no mechanized tunneling equipment. The most elaborate of the caves were the headquarters for the Imperial Japanese Army far below Shuri Castle.
Islander recalls horrors of Battle of Okinawa
"The piece of shrapnel near my eyebrow is the living proof of the horror of war." Shige Nakahodo was 16 and living in the southern Okinawa village of Ozato when the battle of Okinawa began. On June 10, 1945, they were forced to leave as the battle crept south on the Chinen peninsula. On June 19, they arrived in Mabuni, near "Suicide Cliff." While sheltering in a cave, they saw a tank approaching them. Resigning himself to death, her uncle told them that they should commit suicide.
Memorial for Koreans who died in Okinawa battle (Article no longer available from the original source)
A ceremony was held in Yomitan, Okinawa Prefecture, to unveil a memorial to Koreans who were forced to serve Japan in the 1945 Battle of Okinawa during World War Two. The memorial was erected for men and women from the Korean Peninsula, which was a colony of Japan at the time, who worked for the Japanese military in such tasks as transporting ammunition and serving as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers, and who died in the course of the battle.
Okinawa - Often overlooked final battle of World War II
Veterans of all military branches gathered to celebrate what they all had in common: memories of the Battle of Okinawa, an 82-day battle in which more than 250,000 civilians and troops lost their lives. "Once a Marine, always a Marine. The love for (my) comrades and our nation keeps me returning every year," William Henry Honchell said. L-Day was the day 183,000 US troops stormed the beaches of Okinawa. A faked landing by the Second Marine Division drew Japanese troops to the southern tip of the island. One problem during the 82-day battle was rain: 10 inches fell in 10 days during early May. The thick mud meant many supplies had to be delivered hand-over-hand.
Battle of Okinawa mass suicides recalled, debated
Masahide Ota fought as a member of a "Blood and Iron Corps" of students mobilised to defend the southern Japanese island against American invaders. As many as one-third of Okinawa’s inhabitants were killed in the battle, described by many historians as a doomed sacrifice ordered by Japan’s military leaders to delay an invasion of the mainland. Many civilians, often entire families, died in mass suicides, by some accounts at the order of fanatical Japanese soldiers. Ota and others argue that whether or not there was a direct military order to commit suicide is not the point.
The only Medal of Honor recipient who refused to carry a weapon
The only conscientious objector to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor as a noncombatant in WWII has died. Desmond Doss Senior refused to carry a weapon during his wartime service as a medic. He was the subject of a 2004 documentary, "The Conscientious Objector," and a previously published book, "The Unlikeliest Hero. In 1945, Doss was invited to the White House to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Harry Truman for his bravery on May 5th, 1945. The 24-year-old medic stayed atop a cliff on the island of Okinawa, lowering down soldiers under Japanese attack.
U.S. veteran scours Okinawa's caves for relics of bloody 1945 conflict (Article no longer available from the original source)
For the past 21 years, Ron Fuller has been digging into the past. His mission is to find remains of Japanese victims who perished in the fierce Battle of Okinawa. But the relics are not keepsakes. Here in the deep caves, where Imperial Japanese Army soldiers and Okinawan civilians fled for their lives, Fuller tries to imagine what they thought and felt during those frantic last moments. The so-called Typhoon of Steel raged across the island for 3 months. About 200,000 Japanese were killed. Many of them were terrified civilians who committed group suicide in caves rather than be taken prisoner by U.S. soldiers.
Gal Reporters: Breaking Barriers in World War II
"Get that broad the hell out of here!" That unchivalrous comment was leveled by a United States Marine Corps general at Dickey Chapelle, a woman photographer who had made her way to his front during the bloody battle of Okinawa, toward the end of World War II. It was still a man's world, in which being a woman was never more challenging than on the battlefield. But after Pearl Harbor, of the 1,600 reporters permitted to wear the armband emblazoned with a "C" that meant war correspondent, 127 were women.
1945 June 21: US troops take Okinawa
The Japanese island of Okinawa has finally fallen to the Americans after a long and bloody battle. The island will now provide the Americans with an invaluable air and naval base from which to launch a sustained and forceful attack on the mainland. It is estimated more than 90,000 Japanese troops were killed in the 82-day conflict. America also suffered heavy losses - at this stage 6,990 servicemen have been reported killed and 25,598 wounded. In a statement Commander-in-Chief of the US Pacific Fleet, Admiral Chester W Nimitz, said: "After 82 days of fighting the battle of Okinawa has been won.