Sixty nine years ago this month on April 1st 1945, the U.S. Marines landed on the island of Okinawa in the South Pacific. Okinawa was one of the last islands invaded and conquered during the U.S.’s island hopping war against imperialist Japan. Over 14,000 U.S. Marines were killed in the ensuing six-week battle for Okinawa.
On the occasion of my learning of the passing of a good friend who was there, I am compelled to retell a story that was told me in good faith by that friend and patriot who was on Okinawa in 1945 and again 25 years later. Whether the story is fact or fiction, an embellishment of a true life incident, or simply a case of “I wish I had done that” or “I wish said that I had said that” hindsight, I will never know. But regardless, the story deserves to be re-told in my friend’s memory and recorded for posterity.
This very dear friend of mine (who will remain anonymous) was a U.S. Navy doctor during WW II. In 1945, he served as a battlefield surgeon in a forward field hospital treating the U.S. Marine casualties on Okinawa during that bloody battle. Following the war, my friend went on to become a world-renowned pharmacologist. Later, he became the CEO of a U.S. based international pharmaceutical company. It was in that role that he returned to Okinawa approximately 25 years later.
As he told the story, the local Japanese agent for his company was accompanying him on visits to several local pharmacologists on Okinawa who were working on some very promising pharmaceutical agents derived from local herbs and plants. During their travels from clinic to clinic, the local agent drove to a small park atop a high, steep cliff overlooking
the Pacific. He parked, got out of the car, opened the trunk and removed a large bouquet of white flowers. The agent took and threw the flowers into the ocean hundreds of feet below and bowed his head in prayer. After the long audible prayer, the agent explained to my friend that his gesture and his prayer were in memory of the hundreds of innocent Okinawa school girls who in the spring of 1945 had plunged off this very cliff to their deaths on the jagged rocks in ocean below rather than be captured and molested by the U.S. Marines who were making their own ultimate sacrifices as they conquered this enemy island.
According to his account, my friend – the former Navy doc – bowed his head for a moment and then un-zipped his flies and proceeded to pee over the cliff saying while he did so:
“Yes, I was here and this is for the hundreds of brave U.S. Marines whom we could not save in 1945 and died fighting for America on this god forsaken island.”
“God Bless Them & God Bless America”
Semper Fi & Rest In Peace, Jake!
The Crusty Conservative
“… individuals may injure a whole society, by not declaring their sentiments.
It is therefore not only their right, but their duty, to declare them.”
–John Dickinson, Letters of Fabius, 1788