I am Forty-eight pages into my graduate thesis on the Battle for Okinawa, at the time of this entry, and I’ve uncovered some interesting and noteworthy information which will make its way from the paper to my book on the historic battle.
We know that the Battle of Okinawa–the final battle of the war–was the largest land, air, and sea battle in all of history. More than twice the
number of American marines, soldiers and sailors were killed or wounded at the Ryukyu prefecture than on Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal combined. But did you know that it was the U.S. Navy which suffered more losses in lives at Okinawa? As a service, the Navy had more men killed at sea than the Marines or Army lost fighting ashore on Okinawa. Furthermore, the Navy lost more ships at Okinawa than any other naval battle or invasion in history.
This tragedy for the American Navy was the result of Japan’s last-gasp effort on the island through the expenditure of young men in kamikaze missions against American ships. Thirty-one of the forty-nine U.S. Ships and vessels lost at Okinawa were destroyed by the “divine wind”–Japan’s meaning of kamikaze.
The photograph at left is from the U.S. National Archives in Washington D.C.; taken 26 May 1945, less than one month before U.S. forces would secure the island.