April 1, 1945 the United States Military had its sights set on a small island chain known as the Ryukyu Islands. The main island of Okinawa would be the primary target. Sixty miles long and two to eighteen miles wide, this island was only three hundred and forty miles from mainland Japan. This island would put U.S. forces in air bombing range of mainland Japan. The Tenth Army, commanded by Lieutenant General Simon Bolivar Butler, consisted of two Army divisions and Two Marine divisions. Also the United States Navy 5th Fleet commanded by Admiral Raymond Spruance. The thirty second Japanese Army, commanded by General Mitsuru Ushijima, would try to defend Okinawa. United States forces were met with little resistance during the invasion however this battle would prove to be one of the fiercest in the Pacific. A cost that did not have to be paid considering the atomic bomb would end the war weeks after the fighting had halted.
On December 7th 1941, the Japanese military attacked Pearl Harbor and Americans were caught completely off guard. Eight United States Navy ships were damaged and five were sunk. 2,403 Americans lost their lives with 1,178 wounded. This incident thrust the U.S. military into World War 2. The next three years the United States found themselves in fierce battles throughout the Pacific. The technique used is referred to as island hopping. After Midway, the Philippines, the Marianas, and Iwo Jima it was now time for Okinawa. Okinawa its self is a territory of Japan. The civilian populous, once a monarchy, was caught in the middle of a bloody battle.
Planning and Preparation
The original plan was to take the Island of Formosa, or Taiwan as it is commonly known. After careful consideration, Admiral Nimitz was able to convince the chiefs of staff Okinawa was a more suitable target. First defending the huge Island of Formosa, the Japanese had a full field army much too strong to be attacked by American forces then available in the pacific. Secondly the casualty estimate based upon 17,000 dead and wounded while estimating 32,000 dug-in Japanese on the Island of Saipan.
The United States forces that invaded Okinawa were well versed in amphibious landings. They took part in other landings and battles, even though the Tenth Army was newly formed. Okinawa was bombarded by the 5th fleet for six days and there was also aerial reconnaissance. Both proved to be somewhat ineffective do to the placement of the Japanese Army. The Japanese were barricaded in underground tunnels and caves. There was also a fake amphibious landing to the south to deter enemy reinforcements from approaching the actual landing. The Japanese deserted many well built positions to concentrate on a central fortified position. The Shuri Castle would become General Ushijima’s headquarters due to the vast underground tunnels.
L-Day or love day had arrived early morning April 1st 1945. Not only...