On April 1, 1945, Easter Sunday, a gathering of 1.5 million men took place aboard 1,500 Allied ships off the shores of the Japanese island of Okinawa. This assembly marked the commencement of the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific Theater of World War II. War strategists anticipated a casualty rate of 80 percent. The first American officer to set foot on Okinawa was Major Art Shaw (1920-2020), who led a unit in the U.S. Army’s 361st Field Artillery Battalion of the 96th Infantry Division, known as the Deadeyes. Over the subsequent three months, Shaw and his troops operated near the front lines of the costly Pacific battle, with their artillery proving instrumental against an elusive enemy entrenched in the rugged island terrain. Across a span of eighty-two days, the Allies engaged the Japanese army in a campaign that resulted in the loss of over 150,000 lives. The Deadeyes, particularly the 361st Field Artillery Battalion, were credited with an estimated 37,763 enemy casualties. Their pivotal role contributed significantly to the overall victory. This campaign would ultimately become the last major battle of World War II, setting the stage for the subsequent bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the Japanese surrender in August, two months after the conclusion of the Okinawa siege.
Major Art Shaw's compelling narrative, filled with remarkable details, serves as a lasting testament to the courage and valor demonstrated by countless individuals on the hills of Okinawa.
Written By Robert L. Wise. Published by William Morrow, 2020. Softcover, 368 pages.