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Battle of Okinawa really began 75 years ago today

15 2 0

KOBE – Next year will mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. With Okinawa being the site of the last major land battle, which killed more civilians than the combined combatants of both sides in the Western Pacific, there will be increasing attention to the issue of war and peace over the coming year.

The Battle of Okinawa is usually considered to have begun in late March 1945, with the Allied attack on the Kerama Islands, now a popular spot for diving and snorkeling and an easy day trip from Naha.

In fact, however, the Battle of Okinawa really began 75 years ago today, on Oct. 10, 1944, with the bombing of Naha and other locations in the Nansei Islands.

Although the planes had been spotted and there was intelligence beforehand, the attack forces of Vice Adm. Marc A. Mitscher’s Fast Carrier Task Force, operating as part of the Third Fleet, in the preliminary operations for the landings on Leyte in the Philippines, achieved complete surprise, much like the attacks on Pearl Harbor almost three years before.

According to an official history, this was intentional. Mitscher had “made every effort to achieve surprise,” with the force following bad weather caused by a typhoon moving toward Okinawa from the southeast. A diversionary attack on Marcus Island to the east was made, and aircraft based on the Marianas, seized that summer in operations my father was involved in, conducted airstrikes on Iwo Jima and flew interdiction patrols ahead of the forces making up the Third Fleet.

Mitscher’s Fast Carrier Task Force, comprising nine carriers, five fast battleships, eight escort........

© The Japan Times