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    A trip to the past: Marines visit Okinawa battle sites

    A trip to the past: Marines visit Okinawa battle sites

    Photo By Cpl. Ryan Mains | U.S. Marines visit the Battle of Okinawa Historical Display Museum aboard Camp Kinser...... read more read more



    Story by Cpl. Ryan Mains 

    31st Marine Expeditionary Unit       

    CAMP KINSER, Japan - The Battle of Okinawa was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific and the last battle during the island hopping campaign in World War II. Although anticipated not to last more than a few weeks, the battle ended up lasting 82 days.

    In order to get a clearer picture of what the Marines who fought in the Battle of Okinawa had to go through, Marines from Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, were given an opportunity to attend a battle site tour around the island of Okinawa Sept. 21.

    “(The battalion), along with the rest of the 1st Marine Division, fought the battle for Okinawa from the initial landings on the Hagushi Beaches on April 1, 1945, to the Kiyan Peninsula on the southern tip of the island in late June,” said Capt. Jeffrey Butler, a forward air controller with BLT 2/5, 31st MEU. “The battalion’s most notable action was the fight for Hill 55 and Wana Draw during the last two weeks of May 1945.”

    During the battle site tour, Marines were bused to many different sites, giving them several opportunities to see the different terrain that was fought on as well as Japanese defensive positions.

    “Looking at the terrain today as opposed to what it was back then is completely different,” said 1st Lt. Kevin Hegerberg, a fire support officer with Echo Company, BLT 2/5, 31st MEU. “Going up the terrain now is a little easier, but back then everything was bombed out and, along with all of the mud and the rain, it would have been hell for those Marines.”

    One of the stops on the tour was at the Battle of Okinawa Historical Display Museum aboard Camp Kinser. The museum is full of both U.S. and Japanese weapons, uniform items and gear.

    “Chris Majewski, our tour guide, has scoured over every piece of this island; he knows it like the back of his hand and because he is a former Marine himself, he can speak, ‘Marine,’ and it definitely adds to what the terrain alone can say,” said Butler, a native of Burke, Virginia. “Seeing actual weapons and other artifacts from the fight, as well as being able to pick up and feel the weight of the rifles used in the battle was a highlight of the day.”

    Okinawa proved to be a tougher fight for the Americans than anticipated. The outcome of the battle, nicknamed the “Typhoon of Steel,” resulted in approximately 14,000 deaths for the U.S. and 77,100 deaths for the Japanese.

    “It’s important for Marines at every level to study and learn the heritage and history of the Marine Corps,” said Butler. “The battle of Okinawa occurred over 70 years ago, but the lessons learned from Private to General are still relevant and can be applied to future operations. It also builds pride within the unit.”



    Date Taken: 09.21.2015
    Date Posted: 09.30.2015 20:34
    Story ID: 177686
    Hometown: BURKE, VA, US
    Hometown: SHERWOOD, OR, US

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