The strategy 60 years ago was to seize Okinawa as a staging ground for the invasion of Japan proper. A vast armada of U.S. ships, from carriers and battleships to destroyer escorts, suffered staggering losses from kamikaze attacks. Vice Admiral Marc Mitscher's flagship, the Bunker Hill, took two kamikaze hits within 30 seconds, setting off fuel explosions that killed more than 350 of her crew.
The three-month battle for Okinawa in spring 1945 was an epic struggle. It pitted the U.S. Fifth Fleet—one of the mightiest armadas the world has seen—against thousands of Japanese kamikaze suicide aircraft, flown by young volunteers with the intent on crashing into U.S. ships for the glory of their emperor and the survival of their country.
1. Thomas B. Buell, The Quiet Warrior: A Biography of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance (Boston: Little, Brown, 1987), p. 396. back to article
2. Oral history interview, RAdm. Thomas H. Morton, USN (Ret.), 16 October 1975, by John T. Mason Jr., U.S. Naval Institute Oral History Collection (hereafter, USNI OHC), p. 209. back to article
3. Oral history interview, RAdm. Ernest M. Eller, USN (Ret.), 21 November 1972, by John T. Mason Jr., USNI OHC, p. 723. back to article
4. Donald M. Goldstein and Katherine V. Dillon, eds., Fading Victory: The Diary of Admiral Matome Ugaki, 1941-45 (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1991), p. 568, diary entry 1 April 1945. back to article
5. Oral history interview, RAdm. Elliott B. Strauss, USN (Ret.), 10 November 1986, by Paul Stillwell, USNI OHC, p. 262. back to article
6. Goldstein and Dillon, Fading Victory, p. 575, diary entry 7 April 1945. back to article
7. Author interview with former Signalman Third Class Nicholas Floros, USNR, LSM-120, 1995. back to article
8. Buell, The Quiet Warrior, p. 392. back to article
9. Oral history interview, VADM Jerome H. King, Jr., USN (Ret.), 13 January 1998, by Paul Stillwell, USNI OHC, vol. 1, p. 107. back to article
10. RAdm. F. Julian Becton, USN (Ret.), The Ship that Would Not Die (New York: Prentice Hall, 1980), p. 229. back to article
11. E. B. Potter, Nimitz (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1976), p. 375. back to article
12. Oral history interview, former Electrician's Mate First Class Edward E. Logue, USNR, 13 December 1995, by Paul Stillwell, USNI OHC, p.97. back to article
13. Oral history interview, former Quartermaster First Class Michael Bak Jr., USNR (Ret.), 11 June 1986, by Paul Stillwell, USNI OHC, pp. 194-95. back to article
14. Harry S. Truman quoted in Richard B. Frank, Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire (New York: Random House, 1999), p. 143. back to article