My current academic quest, the study of the Second World War–the search for my father’s Second World War, began in earnest back in 2010 with acceptance to the American Military University’s Graduate School of Arts and Humanities. American is currently the only university to offer a Master’s degree in history, with a concentration in the history of World War II; when I discovered this learning opportunity I jumped at the chance.
In early 2013 I begin the arduous but determined task of writing my final thesis–the last hurdle needed to fulfill graduation requirements–on the largely overlooked and underappreciated Battle of Okinawa. Sgt. Ted Lyons, my late father, would have liked my choice. Although his three years of island fighting in the south Pacific brought him no further northward than the Philippines, he would have appreciated the importance of this topic. The battle for Okinawa was the largest land, air, and sea battle in history. The US Marines suffered more than twice the number of casualties on Okinawa than on Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal–combined. The US Navy lost more men and ships at Okinawa than any other battle of the war. As the last stepping-stone to Japan in 1945, its importance cannot be overstated.
I like to think that he has been with me along (what will have been) my three-year journey through the history of World War Two. There were times when I thought I could not go any further, and he “lifted me up by my pack” and encouraged me to continue on … hey Sarge, can I get your help one last time?