The Japanese sometime refer to it as tetsu no ame, rain of steel, but Americans have almost always called it by its name: Okinawa. The eighty-two day battle, that spanned from 1 April 1945 to 21 June 1945, for a piece of sand in rock—the first that was considered to be apart of the Japanese mainland—that took more than twelve thousand American lives, and left more than thirty-eight thousand wounded.
The bloodiest battle of the entire Pacific Theater, Okinawa was also the single most deadly battle the US Marine Corps had ever fought. They weren’t the only ones to suffer during Okinawa though: The US Navy suffered 4,907 killed or missing aboard 34 ships sunk and 368 damaged; in the end 763 aircraft were lost. If we’re to included non-battle casualties there were 26,000 of those, with 48% of men succumbing to “battle fatigue” or PTSD. Commanding generals of both sides were killed at Okinawa: American general Simon B. Buckner by artillery fire, Japanese general Ushijima Mitsuru by his own hand.
Nobody has ever been able to calculate the exact number of Japanese soldiers and Okinawan civilians killed in that campaign, but the numbers that spoken of are astronomical. Most historians agree that 100,000 or more civilians were lost during the eighty-two day campaign and upwards to 100,0000 Japanese died for the island. Even after the surrender, small pockets of Japanese went on fighting, just as they had on Peleliu.
It’s no wonder the US Marines referred to the Pacific campaign as being the Islands of Hell.