As I pulled out the letters for this weekend’s post from my 1945-1946 binder, I discovered that there were several letters out of chronological order. These letters shed some more light on the situation during the last days of the war on Okinawa, so I have decided to post them out of order.
There is no salutation or date on this letter.
On Thursday afternoon, June 21st at 1500 Okinawa time, the Island was officially declared as being secure. All organized Jap resistance had ceased, and only the mopping-up of the island was left to be done – at the South end of the Island but there were still snipers – hiding in the caves – harassing the victorious American forces.
At 1000 Friday morning, in the Tenth Army HQ. Area, Old Glory was raised on a beautiful tall, white flagpole. A Marine division band played a few selections before the ceremony started. Someone made a speech to open the ceremonies – who made it or what they said – I don’t know. I was across the street out of hearing distance. After the speech, a bugle sounded and a six-man color-guard marched up to a position in front of the pole. A high-ranking officer stepped forward, gave some commands to the color-guard, turned and stepped back. The two center men in the color-guard advanced to the pole, and put the flag in position. When all was set, the band played the first majestic strains of the national anthem. All the soldiers and officers present snapped to attention and presented arms. Flashbulbs and cameras clicked so that this moment of victory would be preserved and go down in history. It was the bloodiest of all the Pacific battles to date. The Japs were strong and the terrain was suitable for the island’s defense.
The ceremony was simple and short. But it was thrilling. Man had fought and died and suffered so that this moment would become a reality. Now the flag is flying every day – beautiful and bright.
In passing the area one can’t help but notice the flag. On the island everything is drab in color – dark green foliage, brown dirt, odd clothing, Brown tents, OK tin cans, brown roads, all the same. But standing high and fluttering in the breeze stands one bright symbol – the American flag – America herself – red, white, and blue.
The inhabitant of Okinawa is a cross-breed between the people of China and Japan. They are short in stature and not very handsome. As is the case of most Orientals, their age is very hard to guess. And Okinawan has to be either very young or very old if one is to fathom his age closely.
Okinawa was originally inhabited by the Chinese but later, a few hundred years ago, Japan conquered the Island and a number of Japanese migrated there. Thus there is a cross between the cultures of the two races.
The Island is approximately 60 miles long, and anywhere from 2 to 8 miles wide. Because of the Japanese Current, the island’s climate is semi-tropical. Pine trees, palms, and bamboos grow side by side. The terrain is uneven, having rolling hills, and fertile valleys. Every inch of land suitable for cultivation has rice, grain, or vegetables planted on it in well-laid-out plots. Irrigation is needed in some parts of the island – especially where there are rice paddies.
The old Chinese custom of burying the dead in vaults is practiced throughout the Island, and the hills are studded with these crude concrete and stone structures.
Small towns and villages cover the island, but only two settlements are considered as cities: Shuri ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shuri,_Okinawa ), with 14,000 residents and Naha, ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naha ) with 65,000, Naha is the capital of the Ryukyu group.
Tomorrow a letter from Dave dated July 20, 1945, again from Okinawa, addressed to Marian. I believe the family really enjoyed this letter because it is written just as if Dave was talking to them.