National Geographic : 1950 Apr
538 uobert Stubenrauc Lunch on His Arm, a New Rug over His Shoulder, This Smiling Okinawan Symbolizes the New Hope That Has Come to the "Doorstep to Japan" Battles and typhoons have ravaged little Okinawa during the past five years, but today there is cause for cheer among the island's people. Thrust again into strategic prominence by recent crises in China and Formosa, long-neglected Okinawa is undergoing a face lifting. After the transformation it will be a semi permanent, well-equipped United States airbase similar to Clark Field in the Philippines. A 71-million-dollar appropriation bill passed by the 81st Congress last October will bring new typhoon resisting housing, improve harbors and roads, provide warehouses and recreational facilities. Shaped like a water snake swimming northeast in the subtropical East China Sea, Okinawa became the last costly battle of the Pacific in the series of steppingstone campaigns from Australia to Japan. D-Day was April 1, 1945. The northern half of the island was quickly taken, but in the south the Japanese, holed out in caves, fought savagely for 82 days. Our casualties were high-11,861 dead, including Lt. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr., brilliant commander of the Tenth Army. Okinawa was slated as jump-off point for the invasion of the Japanese mainland. Within six weeks of its capture, 24 airfields had been constructed, capable of sending out 3,500 B-29 bomber missions a day. Then came V-J Day, and Okinawa with its half-million people slipped back into obscurity.