Marines in World War II Commemorative Series
Countdown to 'Love-Day'
L-Day and Movement to Contact
The Air and Sea Battles
Assault on Shuri
Closing the Loop
The Senior Marine Commanders
For Extraordinary Heroism
Special Subjects
Initial Infantry Commanders
The Japanese Forces
The U.S. Army at Okinawa
Marine Air at Okinawa
Marine Artillery at Okinawa
Marine Tanks at Okinawa
Subsidiary Amphibious Landings

THE FINAL CAMPAIGN: Marines in the Victory on Okinawa
by Colonel Joseph H. Alexander, USMC (Ret)


The Washington National Records Center in Suitland, Maryland, holds primary documents of the Okinawa campaign. The III Amphibious Corps After Action Report provides the best overview, while reports of infantry battalions contain vivid day-by-day accounts. The Marine Corps Oral History Collection contains 36 interviews with Okinawa veterans, among them Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr.; Pedro A. del Valle; Alan Shapley; Edward W. Snedeker; and Wilburt S. Brown. The Marine Corps Historical Center also holds Oliver P. Smith's outspoken account of his Okinawa experiences as Marine Deputy Chief of Staff, Tenth Army, as well as the original interrogation report of Colonel Hitomichi Yahara, Operations Officer of the Japanese Thirty-second Army.

Among the official histories, the most useful are Benis M. Frank and Henry I. Shaw, Jr., Victory and Occupation, vol V, History of U.S. Marine Corps Operations in World War II (Washington: HistBr, G-3 Div, HQMC, 1968); Charles J. Nichols, Jr., and Henry I. Shaw, Jr., Okinawa: Victory in the Pacific (Washington: HistBr, G-3 Div, HQMC, 1955); and Roy E. Appleman, et al, Okinawa: The Last Battle (Washington: OCMH, Department of the Army, 1948). Two excellent unit histories provide detail and flavor: George McMillan, The Old Breed: A History of the 1st Marine Division in World War II and Bevan G. Cass, History of the 6th Marine Division (Washington: Infantry Journal Press, 1948). Jeter A. Isley and Philip A. Crowl provide an analytical chapter on Okinawa in U.S. Marines and Amphibious War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1951). Robert Sherrod provides lively coverage of Marine Air units in the campaign in his History of Marine Corps Aviation in World War II (Washington: Combat Forces Press, 1948).

More recent accounts of note include George Feifer, Tennozan: The Battle of Okinawa and the Atomic Bomb (New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1992), and Thomas M. Huber, Japan's Battle of Okinawa, April-June 1945 (Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas: U.S. Army Command and Staff College, 1990). A particularly dramatic, first-person account is "A Hill Called Sugar Loaf" by 1stSgt Edmund H. DeMar, USMC (Ret), in Leatherneck (Jun 95).

Colonel Joseph H. Alexander

The author benefited from interviews with LtGen Victor H. Krulak, USMC (Ret), BGen Frederick P. Henderson, USMC (Ret), Mr. Benis M. Frank, and Dr. Eugene B. Sledge. The author is also indebted to MajGen James L. Day, USMC (Ret) and LtCol Owen T. Stebbins, USMCR (Ret), for extended personal interviews — and to the entire staff of the Marine Corps Historical Center for its professional, courteous support.

About the Author

Colonel Joseph H. Alexander, USMC (Ret), served 29 years on active duty as an assault amphibian officer, including two tours in Vietnam and service as Chief of Staff, 3d Marine Division, in the Western Pacific. He is a distinguished graduate of the Naval War College and holds degrees in history from North Carolina, Jacksonville, and Georgetown.

Colonel Alexander, an independent historian in Asheville, North Carolina, wrote Closing In: Marines in the Seizure of Iwo Jima and Across the Reef: The Marine Assault on Tarawa in this series. His book, Utmost Savagery: The Three Days of Tarawa (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1995), won the 1995 General Wallace M. Greene Award of the Marine Corps Historical Foundation. He is also co-author (with Lieutenant Colonel Merrill L. Bartlett) of Sea Soldiers in the Cold War (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1983).

insignias from 50th Anniversary

THIS PAMPHLET HISTORY, one in a series devoted to U.S. Marines in the World War II era, is published for the education and training of Marines by the History and Museums Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, D.C., as a part of the U.S. Department of Defense observance of the 50th anniversary of victory in that war.

Editorial costs of preparing this pamphlet have been defrayed in part by a grant from the Marine Corps Historical Foundation.


Brigadier General Edwin H. Simmons, USMC (Ret)


Benis M. Frank

George C. MacGillivray

Robert E. Struder, Senior Editor; W. Stephen Hill, Visual Information Specialist;
Catherine A. Kerns, Composition Services Technician, R.D. Payne, Volunteer—Web Edition

Marine Corps Historical Center
Building 58, Washington Navy Yard
Washington, D.C. 20374-5040


PCN 190 003135 00

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Commemorative Series produced by the Marine Corps History and Museums Division