National Geographic : 1955 Feb
278 - '. 5 Army Offlcial War Came to Okinawa on Easter Sunday, 1945, and Left a Shambles Operation Iceberg, a fierce 93-day campaign, cost the United States nearly 50,000 dead and wounded; 111,000 Japanese were killed. Fighting centered in the heavily populated southern sector of the island. Nine tenths of the homes were destroyed. Bombs and shells stripped away vegetation. At battle's end this battered chapel was one of the few buildings left standing in Shuri. American artillerymen survey the ruins. "The sake has just begun to flow," he an swered. It was flowing freely when we left. When we were finally in the swing of our first year on the island, we realized that we were having countless good times with the Okinawans and that we were making many friends among them. Our own living was pleasant. We re decorated the Quonset, and our vegetable gar den groaned with produce. We transplanted 2,000 lily and gladiolus bulbs to our yard from the hills where they were growing wild. The maid service was excellent. Yes, life for us was grand! However, one cannot exist facing a mirror. The native picture was ever-present. The Ryukyu Islands, of which Okinawa is the largest (67 miles long and from 2 to 18 miles wide), officially became part of the Japanese Empire in 1879 (map, page 268). The island had long had a deficit economy, and labor had always been its greatest salable commodity. That Okinawa could ever become self-suffi cient was doubtful. Nevertheless, it was ap palling to realize that the people were living in total dependence upon United States aid and that there was no way in which they could move toward self-sufficiency. The Island Devastated One would have had to see the island when we arrived to believe that devastation could be so complete.* Industrial and commercial facilities had been totally destroyed. War debris covered the southern end of the island; farmlands were ruined; there was lack of maintenance and no tools with which to * See "Okinawa, Threshold to Japan," by Lt. David D. Duncan, USMC, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, October, 1945.