The Coast Guard
During World War II
A great armada lies off the Okinawa
beachhead: troops and supplies pour in for the last major operation of
World War II.
The Coast Guard's final major amphibious action was at Okinawa.
Operation Iceberg proceeded along the same successful formula that other
Allied invasions had taken. Carrier aircraft and surface ships shelled
and bombed the island for nine days prior to the landings. The Coast
Guard had a total of 53 ships that participated, and another six with
partial Coast Guard crews accompanied the invasion forces. These
transports, cargo vessels, amphibious force flagships, and more than 40
LSTs and LCIs formed part of the overall force of more than 1,400
vessels carrying more than 548,000 soldiers, sailors and Marines.
Coast Guard-manned USS
The amphibious task force arrived off the beaches on Easter morning,
April 1, 1945. The Japanese chose not to defend the beachhead. Therefore
the greatest initial threat faced by the attacking force was Kamikaze
attacks. During these attacks a suicide plane struck the Coast
Guard-manned LST-884. The plane plowed through the shipfitter's
shop and into its cargo of ammunition. Racked by fire and explosions,
the commanding officer ordered all hands to abandon ship, but the attack
had cost the lives of 24 men.
The beachmasters and their men waged their own battle with an unseen
enemy. The coral off the beaches at Okinawa complicated the unloading of
supplies. The LCVPs and LCMs had only six hours a day, near high tide,
to unload the craft. Due to the tremendous needs of the campaign the
beachmasters found it necessary to unload as many of the craft at high
tide, pile the supplies on the beach, and then move the material inland
at low tide. This kept the transports at anchor for a long period of
time and offered the Kamikaze pilots, suicide boats and torpedo craft
ample time to strike at the fleet.
The officers and crew of Coast
Guard-manned LST-202 somewhere in the Pacific, one of 76 LST's manned by
the Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard remained active with the amphibious forces until the
surrender of Japan. Afterwards the cutters performed various operations
with the occupation forces including mine-sweeping activities. The Coast
Guard transports finished their major work in the Pacific by
transporting thousands of men home in the "Magic Carpet" trips.
The Coast Guard made a tremendous contribution to the war effort as
part of the amphibious forces in the Pacific. The men of this nation's
smallest military service proved as heroic and valiant as the men in the
other branches. When the Coast Guard was returned to its peacetime role
in 1946, Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal stated that during the
war the Coast Guard "earned the highest respect and deepest appreciation
of the Navy and Marine Corps. Its performance of duty has been without
exception in keeping with the highest traditions of service."