The First and Third Battalions of the 22nd Marines moved south early morning 17 June, relieved units of the 7th Marines and were in position to attack by 0730. Following an artillery, naval gunfire, and air bombardment, 1/22 and 3/22 began their advance with 3/22 on the left.
Good progress was made initially, but became very difficult in the face of increased resistance and lack of adequate tank support. The tank crews and engineers finally cleared a way for the tanks to advance far enough to deliver supporting fire late in the day. Before the attack was halted, 3/22 had cleared the town of Mezado and was in possession of the highest ground on Mezado ridge. By 1700, 1/22 had two companies on the crest of the ridge in night defensive positions.
The 18th June, brought clear signs that the end of the campaign was near, but it also brought death to the Commander 10th Army, General Simon Buckner. The General had gone forward to observe the attack of the 8th marines, who were entering the battle for the first time. During a brief flurry of enemy 47mm fire, he was struck in the chest, suffering a wound that proved mortal. General Geiger assumed command of 10th Army until he was rapidly relieved on 23 June by General Joseph Stilwell USA. However, for the first time and probably the last, a Marine General was in command of an Army. Colonel Harold Roberts, Commanding Officer of the 22nd Marines, was also killed a few hours later.
On 18th June, 2/22 passed through 3/22 to assault Kawanga Ridge. The Battalion made steady progress, although confronted with automatic weapons fire. Despite increasing resistance the battalion had cleared the greater part of the ridge by mid-afternoon. Because, 2/22 could not adequately defend the 1800 yard ridge line, 3/4 was attached for night defense. The other two battalions of the 22nd mopped up the reverse slopes of Mezado ridge destroying by-passed enemy troops.
The 4th Marines led the advance on the 19th, with the 22nd Marines carrying on mopping up operations in their trace. 1/4 and 3/4 made excellent progress until they reached the low ground extending from Ibaru Ridge to the Kiyamu- Gusuku Plateau. Then mortar fire from defilated positions behind the hill and heavy machine gun fire slowed the advance. As darkness approached both dug in at the edge of the steep slope leading up the hill. Around 1845, 2/4 on the right flank was relieved by 1/29.
Japanese troops had been holding thousands of Okinawan civilians virtual prisoners in their cave defenses. When our preparatory fires began each morning, they drove the civilians toward our lines, where they were exposed to the artillery’s deadly fire. It was sheer murder and it filled us with anger and disgust.
The attack of the Division was resumed on the 20th with 3/4, 1/4, 1/29, and 2/29 in line from left to right. Their objective was to take the hill complex to their front. The two most dominating hills in the zone of the 4th Marines were hills 72 and 80. The first battalion battled all day, in an effort to place enough men on the crest, to withstand the enemy concealed in the surrounding brush and boulders. However, after fighting a close in battle all day, they dug in for the night less than 20 yards from the Japanese above them. On the left of 1/4, steep cliffs and dense undergrowth made a frontal assault by 3/4 impossible. The Battalion Commander decided to move by the left flank and attack the ridge from the east. Company I in the lead, passed through the zone of the 8th Marines, and pushed up the nose of the ridge. The move was successful as I Company destroyed enemy bunkers and cave positions as L Company followed in trace keeping in contact with the 8th Marines. By early evening, 3/4 held strong positions on the left flank of hill 72, and was ready to assault the remaining strongpoints in the morning.
At 1040 during the morning 2/4 moved out of reserve to join the attack on the right of 1/4, under orders to take hill 80. Companies G and E moved out in the assault and against moderate resistance were in secure possession of Hill 80 by 1645. The 4th Marines resumed the assault on Hill 72 early on the 21st. The Marines of 2/4 and 3/4 moved to the south to envelop the hill, as 1/4 supported the attack from their existing positions. The two assaulting battalions, supported by tanks, attacked north to the objective, surged over the crest and down the reverse slope. Employing gun and flamethrower tanks, mopping up operations were in progress by 1020.
General Shepherd notified General Geiger, at 1027, that organized resistance in the zone of the Sixth Marine Division had ceased. On receiving like notification from all Divisions of 10th Army, General Geiger announced at 1305, 21 June, that the island of Okinawa had been secured.
The next day, Lt. General Mitsuru Ushijima thrust his Hari- Kari knife into his abdomen, and when his Adjutant severed his head, entered the vast morgue that he had created.
Following the relief of General Geiger by General Stillwel, a massive mopping up of southern Okinawa was ordered by 10th Army. The operation was completed ahead of schedule on June 30. The Sixth and First Marine Divisions worked over the Kiyamu-Gusuku and Kamesu Ridge areas thoroughly, and quickly dispatched any bypassed enemy troops encountered.
When these operations were completed, we moved to an area that I can no longer identify, where we could clean up and relax. It was there I learned that I would never again be able to lower my shield. I don’t know the reason, unless I have a gear stripped somewhere deep inside me.
We were issued 10 in 1 rations, which must have been appropriated from the Army, because that is not normal fare for marines. My group of five survivors received a box for our consumption and we set about to prepare a feast. The ration contained among other things, a large can of ham and sweet potatoes. Gleefully, we opened the can, heated the contents in a steel helmet and gorged ourselves like the savages we were. Then we lit our after dinner cigarettes, thoroughly satisfied with our good fortune. Sometime later, our stomachs went into reverse and disgorged our glorious meal. Adding to our misery was the knowledge that we would have to clean up the area.
On 2 July, the Third Amphibious Corps was released from all mop up responsibilities on Okinawa. The move to Guam by the Sixth Marine Division began on 2 July and was completed by the 11th.
KIA DOW WIA MIAPD Total
6th Marine Div. 1, 364 294 7, 429 11 9, 096
1st Marine Div. 1, 092 162 6, 405 6 7, 665
III MAC 2, 748 529 15, 899 55 19, 231
RETURN TO GUAM
The exact date of the 4th Marines return to Guam is beyond my recall, but it was with great anticipation. The surviving Raiders in the regiment were eagerly expecting to be rotated back to the States. However, as we settled down in our new camp, which had been established for us, we were soon disillusioned. We were informed that the Division would enter a crash training program, in preparation for the invasion of the Japanese Mainland.
Due to the severe casualties incurred on Iwo Jima and Okinawa, any rotation of veteran Marines was precluded. The Raiders as always dealt with their disappointment and went about the business at hand. We well knew what the invasion of the Japanese Mainland would mean for the Marine Corps and ourselves.
During the early days of August, I began to run a temperature with the accompanying chills that signaled the onset of malaria. When the company corpsman found my temperature to be 105 degrees, he walked me over to Battalion Sick Bay. I was soon transported, in what the Marine Corps calls an ambulance, to A Medical Co. On arrival I submitted to the usual blood tests, was admitted and began treatment.
The treatment of malaria is not involved. You are given a hand full of quinine tablets, which you wash down with water at regular intervals. When you begin to vomit some green slimy stuff, you know you are close to recovery. Then after you have taken regular meals for a few days, you are returned to your organization.
One evening I was talking to my neighbor, when we heard a great shouting and cheering down the way. We looked at one another, and I exclaimed that only one thing could cause a group of "Asiatic" Marines to shout that way---the war must be over. A few moments later a corpsman carrying a case of beer charged into our area and confirmed our suspicions. I was not ready for beer, but sure was in a hurry to get back to K Company, since I was certain the Raiders would be sent home. The following morning I was released for duty, and returned to find the company feverishly preparing to leave for the initial landing on Japan. So I joined all the other Raiders in grinding my teeth and preparing to embark when ordered.
We were soon underway, and soaking in all the rumors and briefings we received on a regular basis. There was to me a great sense of unreality about the fact that the war was over and Japan would surrender. Task Force 31 was running under the usual blackout regulations of wartime so from topside everything appeared dark and murky.
One night I was on deck talking to a friend and peering out into the darkness, when the Bos’n came on the bullhorn with this announcement. "Now hear this, light the ship". The lights came on not only on our ship but also around the entire Task Force. That message was soon followed by another, "the smoking lamp is lit." It was a wonderful moment for me as I puffed on a Chelsea, and walked around the deck marveling at the sight before my eyes. The lighting of the ship brought the realization that the war was over and I had survived. So it is here that I will end these pages with these words: