(WWII) PERSPECTIVE

War means death, on whatever scale, and we all decry the loss of a single casualty. But the naysayers of the current struggle in Iraq should read the following article about WWII to gain perspective on war losses and realize that the long-range danger of an insurgent enemy makes it imperitive not to quit until our mission is complete. - Jug

VICTORY: COST AND VALUE
Forwarded by BGen Robert Clements USAF (Retired)

The price paid for Okinawa was dear. The final toll of American casualties was the highest experienced in any campaign against the Japanese. Total American battle casualties were 49,151, of which 12,520 were killed or missing and 36,631 wounded:

  • Army losses were 4,582 killed, 93 missing, and 18,000 wounded;
  • Marine losses, including those of the Tactical Air Force, were 2,938 killed and missing and 13,708 wounded; * Navy casualties totaled 4,907 killed and missing and 4,824 wounded.
  • Non-battle casualties during the campaign amounted to 15,613 for the Army and 10,598 for the Marines.
  • The losses in ships were 36 sunk and 368 damaged, most of them as a result of air action.
  • Losses in the air were 763 planes from 1 April to 1 July.

The high cost of the victory was due to the fact that the battle had been fought against a capably led Japanese army of greater strength than anticipated, over difficult terrain heavily and expertly fortified, and thousands of miles from home. The campaign had lasted considerably longer than was expected. But Americans had demonstrated again on Okinawa that they could, ultimately, wrest from the Japanese whatever ground they wanted.

The cost of the battle to the Japanese was even higher than to the Americans. Approximately 110,000 of the enemy lost their lives in the attempt to hold Okinawa, and 7,400 more were taken prisoners. The enemy lost 7,800 airplanes, 16 ships sunk, and 4 ships damaged. More important, the Japanese lost 640 square miles of territory within 350 miles of Kyushu.

The military value of Okinawa exceeded all hope. It was sufficiently large to mount great numbers of troops; it provided numerous airfield sites close to the enemy's homeland; and it furnished fleet anchorage helping the Navy to keep in action at Japan's doors. As soon as the fighting ended, American forces on Okinawa set themselves to preparing for the battles on the main islands of Japan, their thoughts sober as they remembered the bitter bloodshed behind and also envisioned an even more desperate struggle to come.

The sequel to Okinawa, however, was contrary to all expectation. In the midst of feverish preparations on the island in August 1945, with the day for the assault on Kyushu drawing near, there came the almost unbelievable and joyous news that the war was over.

The battle of Okinawa was the last of World War II.