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Introduction to the Invasion of Okinawa

The invasion of the Ryukyus was made by troops of the U.S. Tenth Army, which had been activated on June 20, 1944 with Lt. Gen. Simon B. Buckner, Jr., as commanding general.

The Ryukyus campaign began on March 26, 1945 with the capture of small islands near Okinawa, where forward naval bases were established. An amphibious assault on Okinawa took place on 1 April, and the fighting lasted until June.

Here, for the first time, Americans were invading what the Japanese defenders considered their home soil, and the defense was fanatic in the extreme. American troops suffered heavy casualties, and the Navy, too, had heavy personnel losses as Japanese suicide flyers, the Kamikazes, sank some 25 American ships and damaged 165 others in a desperate attempt to save the Ryukyus.

Among the nearly 35,000 American casualties were General Buckner, who was killed on June 18. He was succeeded by Maj. Gen. Ray S. Geiger, who was in turn succeeded by General Joseph W. Stilwell, who arrived to assume command of the Tenth Army on June 22, 1945.

Capture of the Ryukyus gave Allied naval and air forces excellent bases within 700 miles of Japan proper. Throughout June and July, Japan was subjected to increasingly intensive air attack and even to naval bombardment.

Allied forces were now in position for the final assault. In preparation for the invasion of Japan, a reorganization of U.S. Pacific forces had been effected on April 3, 1945, in which General MacArthur was given command of all Army forces and Admiral Nimitz of all naval forces. MacArthur's new command was designated U.S. Army Forces, Pacific (AFPAC). The war ended before the reorganization could have any effect on operations.

Okinawa: Features

Heroes of Okinawa

Fascinating, inspiring stories and details about American heroes of Okinawa who were recognized with the Congressional Medal of Honor.

[The primary source for this text is the U.S. Army Center for Military History. For a more general overview of the war see the Brief History of WWII e-text."]

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