Okinawa Dispatchesese suicide planes made against U.S. Navy ships are a prominent aspect of the Battle of Okinawa. Less well-known is a different sort of kamikaze attack that U.S. Marines guarding the island's Yontan Airfield contended with on the night of 24-25 May 1945. The Giretsu Airborne Raiding Force had been assigned the task of destroying as many U.S. planes as possible on the ground at Yontan and Ie Shima airfields, to increase the chances of suicide aircraft penetrating American air cover. Twelve twin-engine planes transporting the force's 120 commandos were to land at the airfields under cover of darkness, but in the end, only one touched down.
The night of the Giretsu kamikaze mission, Marine combat correspondent Sergeant Claude R. "Red" Canup, a former sports editor from Anderson, South Carolina, was huddled in a foxhole near Yontan. Confusion, indiscriminate shots, antiaircraft fire, explosions, and fires left no doubt in his mind that the Japanese had flown under the airfield's radar.