On April 1, 1945, approximately 60,000 U.S. Marines and soldiers of the U.S. Tenth Army wade ashore from landing craft onto the beaches of Okinawa. The battle that follows is the largest Allied amphibious landing in the Pacific theater and the final island battle of the Pacific.

Army and Marine divisions seek to wrest the island from Japanese control to sever the last southwest supply line to mainland Japan, while establishing the island as a base for American medium bombers.

American progress during the nearly three-month battle, dubbed the “Typhoon of Steel” due to its ferocity, is hindered by heavy rains and rugged terrain.

Like the bloodletting on Iwo Jima, the vicious air, land, and sea battle gives American military planners pause when contemplating future amphibious assaults.  

The grisly battle concludes in an American victory, as the tenacious and desperate Japanese defenders — 155,000 strong — are overpowered by American manpower and material strength.

But it comes at a cost.

By battle’s end on June 22, there are more than 49,000 American casualties, including nearly 12,000 fatalities. An estimated 90,000 Japanese combatants die in the fighting. A staggering 150,000 Okinawan civilians also perish.

 

  • A Marine sniper on Okinawa, June 1, 1945. (USMC)
  • Armored amphibious tractors of a Marine battalion form into a line as the first wave on Okinawa. (USMC)
  • Men from the 6th Marine Division walk "into the valley of death." (USMC)
  • Corsairs of the “Hell’s Belles” Marine Corps fighter squadron are silhouetted against the sky by the lead lacework of anti-aircraft shells. (USMC)
  • Two Marines share their foxhole and ponchos with a war-orphaned Okinawan. (USMC)
  • Private First Class Troy Dixon uses a Japanese barber chair to cut the hair of Sergeant John Anderson, Anita, June 10, 1945. (National Archives)
  • Natives of Okinawa at internment camp at Sobe, Okinawa. They were holed up in a cave and brought out after speaking with a woman already interned. (National Archives)
  • Marine Second Lieutenant John F. Larkin, who was shot in the stomach while clearing a minefield, under the care of Second Lieutenant Susie E. Sumner, one of the first nurses to land on Okinawa. (National Archives)
  • Damage to the USS Nevada’s deck following a kamikaze attack while off of Okinawa, 27 March 1945. (National Archives)
  • Plasma is given to a wounded Marine on Okinawa, May 1945. (National Archives)
  • A TBM “Avenger” in flight on an anti-submarine patrol during the first day of Okinawa operations, April 1, 1945. (National Archives)
  • Marine Aviation Group MAG-33 Headquarters under flooded conditions on Okinawa, May 24, 1945. (National Archives)
  • A Japanese soldier surrenders to Marines after being flushed out from a cave by a smoke grenade. (Department of Defense)
  • Corporal John A. Tillotson poses in a Japanese uniform found on Okinawa. (National Archives)
  • Braving sniper fire, Lieutenant Colonel Richard P. Ross, Jr. places the American flag on a parapet of Shuri Castle on Okinawa. This 1st Marine Division flag was the first to be raised over Cape Gloucester and Peleliu by that unit. The metal staff to which the flag is attached is Japanese and bears the marks of American shellfire. (USMC)