Friday, March 27, 2009

Last Battle of World War II

D-Day Invasion: Easter Sunday - April 1, 1945

The Battle of Okinawa, also known as Operation Iceberg, was fought on the Ryukyu Islands of Okinawa and was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific Theater of World War II. The 82 day long battle lasted from late
March through June 1945.

The battle has been referred to as the "Typhoon of Steel" in English, and tetsu no ame ("rain of steel") or ("violent wind of steel") in Japanese. The nicknames refer to the ferocity of the fighting, the intensity of gunfire involved, and sheer numbers of Allied ships and armored vehicles that assaulted the island. The battle has one of the highest number of casualties of any World War Two engagement: the Japanese lost over 100,000 troops, and the Allies (mostly United States) suffered more than 50,000 casualties, with over 12,000 killed in action. Hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed, wounded or attempted suicide. Approximately one-fourth of the civilian population died due to the invasion. The Tenth Army had five Army Divisions, the 77th, the 96th, the 27th, the 81st, and the 7th. Three Marine Divisions fought on Okinawa, the 6th, the 2nd and the 1st. All these divisions were supported by naval, amphibious, and tactical air forces.

The main objective of the operation was to seize a large island only 340 miles away from mainland Japan. After a long campaign of island hopping, the Allies were approaching Japan, and Okinawa would serve as a springboard for the planned invasion of the mainland islands. Although hastily converted to a base for air operations, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused Japan to surrender just weeks after the end of the fighting at Okinawa and the invasion never took place.

Medal of Honor
(One of the last in World War II. I posted Sgt. Kinser's story because he was from my home volunteer state of Tennessee, and we both served in the same 1st Marine Regiment during the battle of Okinawa and on Peleliu before that. However, we were in a different Battalion and a different Company.)

Sergeant Elbert Luther Kinser (October 21, 1922 - May 4, 1945) was a United States Marine who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions and sacrifice of his life on Okinawa during World War II. The Medal of Honor was presented to Sgt Kinser's parents by MajGen Clifton B. Cates (future Commandant of the Marine Corps) on July 4, 1946 in Greeneville, Tennessee.

Early years
Elbert Kinser was born in Greeneville, Tennessee on October 21, 1922. He worked on his father's farm prior to joining the Marine Corps.

Marine Corps service
Kinser enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in December 1942 and received his recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina.

He sailed from the United States in March 1943, and joined the 7th Replacement Battalion in Pago Pago, Tutuila, American Samoa. Later, that battalion joined the 1st Marine Division in Melbourne, Australia, and Sgt Kinser was assigned to Company I, 1st Marines.

Action with the 1st Marines followed at Cape Gloucester, New Britain, and later at Peleliu, Palau Islands.

On Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945, Sgt Kinser landed with his unit at Okinawa. Sergeant Kinser won the nation's highest military decoration while acting as a leader of a rifle platoon, serving with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division, in action on Okinawa, where he was subsequently killed in action on May 4, 1945.

During a fierce hand grenade battle, a Japanese grenade landed in the immediate vicinity, Sgt Kinser unhesitatingly threw himself on the deadly missile, absorbing the full charge of the shattering explosion in his own body and thereby protecting his men from serious injury and possible death.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Sgt Kinser was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart; Presidential Unit Citation; Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; and the World War II Victory Medal.

Sergeant Kinser was buried in the 1st Marine Division Cemetery on Okinawa and his remains were returned to the United States in early 1949 for burial. His final resting place is the Solomon Lutheran Cemetery in Greeneville, Tennessee.

Medal of Honor citation
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to


for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while acting as Leader of a Rifle Platoon, serving with Company I, Third Battalion, First Marines, First Marine Division, in action against Japanese forces on Okinawa Shima in the Ryukyu Chain, May 4, 1945. Taken under sudden, close attack by hostile troops entrenched on the reverse slope while moving up a strategic ridge along which his platoon was holding newly won positions, Sergeant Kinser engaged the enemy in a fierce hand grenade battle. Quick to act when a Japanese grenade landed in the immediate vicinity, Sergeant Kinser unhesitatingly threw himself on the deadly missile, absorbing the full charge of the shattering explosion in his own body and thereby protecting his men from serious injury and possible death. Stouthearted and indomitable, he had yielded his own chance of survival that his comrades might live to carry on the relentless battle against a fanatic enemy. His courage, cool decision and valiant spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of certain death sustained and enhanced the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.