75 years ago, he was the first officer ashore Okinawa. It's taken him a lifetime to speak about the 82 days that followed.
On Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945, 1.5 million men gathered aboard 1,500 Allied ships off the coast of the Japanese island of Okinawa. The men were there to launch the largest amphib¬ious assault on the Pacific Theater. War planners expected an 80 percent casualty rate.
The first American officer ashore was then-Major Art Shaw, a unit commander in the U.S. Army’s 361st Field Artillery Battalion of the 96th Infantry Division, nicknamed the Deadeyes. For the next three months, Shaw and his men served near the front lines of the Pacific’s costliest battle, their artillery proving decisive against a phantom enemy who had entrenched itself in the rugged, craggy island.
Over eighty-two days, the Allies fought the Japanese army in a campaign that would claim more than 150,000 human lives. When the final calculations were made, the Deadeyes were estimated to have killed 37,763 of the enemy. The 361st Field Artillery Battalion had played a crucial role in the victory. The campaign would be the last major battle of World War II and a key pivot point leading to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and to the Japanese surrender in August, two months after the siege’s end.
Filled with extraordinary details, Shaw’s gripping account gives lasting testimony to the courage and bravery displayed by so many on the hills of Okinawa.