Skip to main content

Victory In Sight

June 2024
1min read

The End on Okinawa


The fighting on Okinawa was almost over. L Company, 32nd Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, was assigned the task of taking a grove of trees near the southern tip of the island, one of the last pockets of Japanese resistance. Our platoon leader was a former Marine who wanted the glory of reaching the ocean first. As we entered the trees, an American flamethrowing tank came up behind us; I suppose it had been assigned the job of burning the brush and flushing out any concealed Japanese.

Being the scout of the platoon, I was assigned the job of stopping the tank. I went warily back, got right up close, and shouted at the soldiers in the tank. They hadn’t seen me, and when they heard me, they threw the flamethrower in my face. I jumped back and began yelling obscenities so they would know I wasn’t the enemy. They settled down then.

When I got back to my company, the ex-Marine rushed us through the grove as fast as we could go. If enemy soldiers had been in there, we’d all have been dead.

We kept moving until we could see the edge of the cliff bordering the water. Our leader had achieved his objective. As platoon scout I was the first to look upon that glorious scene, the end of the Battle of Okinawa. And though I didn’t know it at the time, that made me the first to see the end of fighting in World War II.

Enjoy our work? Help us keep going.

Now in its 75th year, American Heritage relies on contributions from readers like you to survive. You can support this magazine of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it by donating today.

Donate