Okinawa
Okinawa

Okinawa. This battle was called, "Operation Iceburg." (Click for larger image.)

American forces land on Okinawa, April 13, 1945

Okinawa

We left Pavuvu under escort of our war ships and steamed to Ulithe Harbor.  Ulithe was a huge coral atoll and—as a lot of those atolls were—it had a huge harbor that was shaped like a great big horseshoe.  We pulled in there and waited around for a couple of days, or possibly a week while we waited for a task force to assemble.  It was a fun time because the weather was tropical and we went swimming in the ocean off the ship every day.

At one point Dick Beagle came over to our ship when he found out where I was.  He had his trunks along so we decided that we would dive off of the top of the barge into the ocean.  We climbed up the barge and when I got up to the top I got a little leery because that was as high as I ever dived off of anything.  It had to be thirty feet or more, and looked pretty far down to me but; I couldn’t possibly back down anymore so when it came my turn I did dive and penetrated the water rather poorly and could have easily broken my neck because I hit my head in the water and it was amazing how hard water can be.  I made it!  We did swim and had fun and like teen age boys, we found a log and were paddling along singing “Rum and Coca Cola” which was made popular by The Andrews Sisters at that time.

As the task force assembled you could see that it was immense, there were ships everywhere.  We did set out and when we were out a ways we did the usual things, we were called up on deck and briefed on our mission, and saw a map of Okinawa and were told all of the details.  There would be six divisions, three army and three Marine Corp and we would be coming in from the China Sea and landing on the west side of the island.  There were a lot of Japanese troops on Okinawa and we were told that it would be pretty tough duty. 

As I recall the island was about sixty miles long and probably twenty miles wide at various points, it was a fairly flat island, not too many hills similar to I guess, parts of Japan.  We knew that the Japanese weren’t going to give up easily because we were getting close to Japan and within a couple of days of D-day.

April 1, at night we could see and hear distant thunder and lightening on the horizon and we knew it was our Navy bombarding the island.  The next night, the night before D-day it was the same thing but much closer and much more noisy and our planes had been dive -bombing and hitting targets to soften up the landing area.  They were also dropping leaflets on the civilian population telling them to assemble at certain areas and that we were not going to hurt them and information like that.  It was the first time that we had occasion to deal with civilians.

As the task force assembled you could see that it was immense, there were ships everywhere.  We did set out and when we were out a ways we did the usual things, we were called up on deck and briefed on our mission and saw a map of Okinawa and were told all of the details.  There would be 6 divisions three army and three Marine Corp and we would be coming in from the China Sea and landing on the west side of the island.  There were a lot of Japanese troops on Okinawa and we were told that it would be pretty tough duty.