After the successful invasion of Iwo Jima, the Americans now had their eyes on Okinawa. It was nicknamed "Japan's doorstep", however, there was no welcome mat. The Japanese expected the invasion, and Japenese radios were announcing that it was do or die.
Okinawa was indeed Japan's doorstep. It was half the distance to Japan as Iwo Jima. If America successfully invaded Okinawa, then the Americans would only be 362 miles from Kyusha, which is one of the Japanese home islands. This would provide a glimpse of a possible invasion.
The island had plenty of room for soldiers, and had airfields in tremendous size. It dominated the waters around it, and would stop Japan's quest for supplies in the Indies.
In the waters outside Okinawa, there were 1,300 warships and about 100,000 soldiers on them. The ships were heavily attacked by Kamikazes.
Finally on April 1, 1945, the Americans stormed the beach just as they did at Iwo Jima. As with Iwo Jima, a vicious beach attack was expected, but the unexpected happened. The Japense offered little or no resistance on the beach landings.
The Americans pushed up hills, mountains, and captured Nakagusuka Bay. Two airfields were eventually captured. By the end of the week the Americans controlled half of the island. The Americans were making it look easy.
Finally, the Americans met the Japanese resistance. The Japanese massed all their available troops together. They were in blockhouses, pillboxes, and caves with machine guns. However, with all the resistance, America had conquered 4/5ths of the island.
The Americans met the resistance with force. Reinforcements were sent to the island for "an all-out assault." Victors from previous battles, such as Tarawa and Saipan, were also sent to the island. On April 19, 1945, three American divisions pushed into enemy territory.
Planes and ships aided the Americans by bombing key targets. Demolition teams and flame throwers were assigned to destroy the fortified Japanese hide outs. The Japanese, however, fought the Americans with everything they had.
The most fighting was around Sugar Loaf Hill and Conica Hill. The occupation of the hills was a see-saw battle, because they kept changing hands. The Americans finally captured the hills on May 21, 1945. On May 30, the marines captured Shuri. The next night Naha and it's airfield were taken. America just had 15,000 Japanese troops left to fight.
On June 11, 1945, General Buckner's request for the Japanese surrender was ignored. General Bucker was killed on June 18. He never knew what hit him. On June 22, Lieutenant General Mitsuri Ushijima, the leader of Japan's Okinawan forces, and Lietenant General Isama Cho dressed in their official military uniforms and commited suicide.
Japanese troops would rather die than surrender, so suicides were happening at a terrifying rate. The suicides averaged 1 a minute as Japenese leaped off cliffs, slit their throats, or blew themselves up with grenades.
The Japanese lost 109,629 soldiers. Only 7,871 soldiers were taken prisoner. Americans suffered 12,520 soldiers with 36,631 soldiers wounded. Okinawa was the stage point for Operation Olympic, which was the invasion of Japan. The invasion never came, however. The Battle of Okinawa was now over.