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Bloodiest Encounter of the Pacific War

I'm currently poring through more than forty books and hundreds of pages of battle action reports in an effort to research and better understand the battle for Okinawa, America's bloodiest--and least heralded--campaign of the Pacific War. What I'm steadily coming to realize is that Okinawa is less a single battle than a hundred vicious struggles wrapped into one, a sprawling, titanic battle which perhaps marks the scene of our armed forces' greatest combined effort of World War II, and perhaps our greatest hour of that war. With the increasing media publicity surrounding the heroic capture of tiny Iwo Jima and it's celebrated flagraising, I'm continually amazed that more Americans aren't inclined to take a closer look at Okinawa, a battle that indeed makes Iwo pale in comparison. With newspapers and Internet sites filled to the brim these days with photographs of mighty Mount Suribachi, I went browsing for similar photographs of Okinawa's Hill 50.2, a seemingly innocuous bump on the ground located just beyond the Asa River, in what was once known as "Target Area 7672George." That tiny bump, I was told by my First Marine Division father nearly fifty years ago, cost the lives and limbs of untold thousands of Marines and Japanese. "The final capture of Sugar Loaf," my father had noted, "had cost two countries thousands more men than were expended in the fight for Iwo's Suribachi, and the darkest thing of all is, battles like Sugar Loaf were to be repeated scores of times on Okinawa--over and over again."

In a search for modern-day photos of Hill 50.1, I happened on the following website, and was appalled at what the Okinawans have since done to Sugar Loaf, site of one of the most noteworthy struggles in Marine Corps history. To survivors of Sugar Loaf--and to survivors of Okinawa nationwide--I say God bless all of you, and thank you.

Re: Bloodiest Encounter of the Pacific War

Dear Sir, I,m doing some research on my uncle how was k.i.a. on okinawa June of 45. I was wondering if there were any kind of grave sites for falling marines on the Island. I have another uncle who would like to travel there to see it. In your pictures I didn't see any cemetary. Thank you so much for sharing them. Respectfuly Larry Paleno

Re: Re: Bloodiest Encounter of the Pacific War

my brother daniel fields was killed on okinawa where is he buried

Re: Bloodiest Encounter of the Pacific War

As soon as Marines had "secured" Okinawa in June 1945, Brigades of Seabees poured onto Okinawa to build the bases and hospitals needed for the Invasion of Japan.

The first wave of the Invasion , scheduled for Nov. 1945 was never needed but had it been necessary - it may would have been crippled by the Typhoon of 9-10 October 1945.

This was the "Divine Wind" that the Japanese believed in. The 112th NCB, camped high on an eastern bluff at the south end of Okinawa was functionally destroyed. The USN ships nearby were mostly damaged. Those unlucky enough to be caught in Buckner Bay were smashed about like toy boats.

The boost to Japanese Morale would have surely cost many more American lives had the invasion been necessary.

I agree that Okinawa was the most ferocious battle of WWII. It has been characterized as "An Iwo Jima every day for months". I am astounded that history overlooks this fact and focuses on Iwo Jima.

Of course, I take nothing away from Iwo - it enabled the B-29's from Tinian, Saipan, Guam to pulverize Japan. But Okinawa was the real coup de gras of WWII.

Thank you all for your efforts at Okinawa.

See the official USN report of the Typhoon:

Edwin Foster
112th Seabees Sec/Hist

Re: Re: Bloodiest Encounter of the Pacific War

145th NCB Seabees, OKINAWA, April 1, 1945.

Many of our men got in on the very beginning of the landings. We on the LST's had ringside seats, but we didn't get in until L-plus- two. We did get our share of action for our camp was situated on farmland between two airstrips and a harbor full of ships. The Japanese flyers that came over lived up to their reputation of being nearsighted, for although there were a number of nearby targets more important than we, the flying sons of heaven dropped "hot stuff" too close to us for comfort. The evening of D-plus-two, when we pitched camp, we joked and grinned in levity over the adventure, but after a few experiences of zooming, bombing Japanese planes, flak filled skies, and moaning sirens out interests in abodes centered on safety. Comfort ran a poor second. Biggest joba in April were construction of two roadways, Route No. 1 and Route No. 3, which included access roads; the improvement of Yellow Beach No. 3, one of the main man and supply landings, and access roads to it. One of the most important jobs was the construction of a 150-foot double-double Bailey bridge over the Bishi Gawa at Hiza. This was on Route 1, the main artery feeding supplies south to the battlefront. A crew of 80 men of the 145th built the bridge in two days and a night. The Japanese didn't want the bridge built, and signified their feelings in futile, but dangerous, air raids on the bridge site throughout the night. For their rapid and successful completion of the project, the workers were commended by commander White of the 44th Regiment. Also during April, the 145th constructed a camp for the Island Command, operated DDT mixing station at Yontan airfield, constructed the 3rd Amphibious Corps hospital, operated a water station at Hiza, furnished a bomb and mine disposal crew for all our own projects, numerous others, and for the policing of a large area for unexploded ordinance.The 145th road crews maintained and improved a section of Route No. 6 from Tokeshi to Yamada. Our surver parties did reconnaissance work on airfield sites, and another crew operated coral pits on around the clock schedules. During April the 145th suffered two casualties. In May, men of the 145th constructed a camp and facilities for the commander of construction troops. worked on the first Marine Division cemetery, constucted a large number of facilities for Yontan airfield; helped the 146th battalion establish an advance base construction depot, built the giant Machinato causeway and pontoon dock for unloading ships, salvaged materials and supplies at Naha, constructed many miles of new roads and improved many more miles of existing roads. All of this time other work was being done on our own camp. Our electric shop salvaged and put into operation Japanese equipment such as transformers. our sign shop painted signs that posted almost the whole island; messing facilities and showers were built, and almost from the start we had movies projected on a plywood screen while we sat on coral blocks, boxes and the ground. Throughout this entire period we experienced at least one air raid every night; some nights, an almost continuous succession of them. When an air raid stopped the movies, and they often did, we'd run for our foxholes and then return the next night to see more of the same movies from where we left off. It was toward the end of May that the Japanese tried one of their most daring attacks in our vicinity. With suicidal plans of wrecking grounded planes with grenades and scattering to the hills, they tried an airborne landing of troops on Yontan airfield, just above our camp. Only one plane made a successful landing on the field. Good quality and quantity of our anti-aircraft fire accounted for the others. The Japanese who did land, damaged a number of our planes, but they never got off the field alive. The following morning presented a bloody scene in the vicinity of Yontan airfield. During the next two months our road crew continued their endless job of networking the island wide, smooth, coral-topped highways to replace the one way cart trails that composed most of Okinawa's roadways. And the coral diggers and hauers continued to move out coral for these and other jobs, such as the construction of taxiways at Yonabaru airfield. Workers built a fleet post office at Naval Operations Base to handle the Navy's mail on the island. The 145th also furnished a crew of men and a fleet of trucks in operation of the islands provisional trucking company. In July we moved to a new camp and were back on the pacific ocean again. It was at least a help to look out over the ocean and know you were looking toward home and not China. The battle for Okinawa ended officially on June 22 when the American flag was raised over the island. Lt. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr., Commander of the Tenth Army on Okinawa, was killed Monday, June 18. The Okinawa campaign occupied 82 days of fighting. a total of 100,000 Japanese were killed, paid for in American dead at a one-to-13 ratio. It was on June 22 that the 145th was detached from the First Marine Division, to which we had belonged since December 3, 1944.

Re: Bloodiest Encounter of the Pacific War

I read Robert Leibold's message about Okinawa being overshadowed by Iwo-Jima.
Being yesterday was the Iwo anniversary! I couldn't agree with Robert more. Local newspapers had stories and interviews on TV with the remaining Iwo vets. You rarely? if ever, see this done about any other battle in the Pacific. Speaking with WW2 veterans - Its almost as if, you weren't at Iwo, you weren't in the war. Obviously with the flag raising and the recent films, it is at the forefront. It gets too much publicity, Two WW2 1st Marine Division "Okinawa" Veterans recently confided this to me. Just Venting.

Re: Bloodiest Encounter of the Pacific War

I would to get some information on my fathers unit while he was in WW 2. He was in the 2nd Div and while he was island he was in Love Co, 3rd Batt, 6th marines. When I look up the islands he fought on there is no reference to 2nd Div L36. Could you help me out with some information?

Thank you

Re: Bloodiest Encounter of the Pacific War

Please note:

I am looking for information on my uncle, Charles Hawkins. I know he was with the Marines during its assault on Okinawa, but I do not know what division or regiment he was in. If in your research you find any information about him, I would appreciate it.


James F. Guy