OKINAWA, Japan – Sailors, assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), visited sites of the Battle of Okinawa, March 26, during a regularly scheduled port visit to Okinawa, Japan.
The visit, sponsored by the ship’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) division, took Sailors to Hacksaw Ridge and the former Japanese Naval Underground Headquarters, where they learned more about the history of the Battle of Okinawa.
The Battle of Okinawa took place in 1945 and lasted 82 days during the war against the Imperial Japanese Army. Hacksaw Ridge is home to the cliff where Medal of Honor recipient and Army Pfc. Desmond Doss saved the lives of over 70 U.S. and Japanese service members during the battle.
More than 70 years after the battle, U.S. and Japanese forces work together as Pacific partners, with more than 60 percent of U.S. installations in Japan located on the island of Okinawa.
“The relationship between American and Japanese forces has completely changed since the Battle of Okinawa,” said Capt. Larry McCullen, commanding officer of Bonhomme Richard. “We’ve gone from a place of open aggression toward one another, to a relationship in which the Japanese and American forces work side-by-side on a daily basis to ensure the safety and stability of our nations.”
Following the visit to historic Hacksaw Ridge, Sailors toured the former Japanese Naval Underground Headquarters. The headquarters was designed as an underground tunnel system which served the former Japanese Navy’s command during the battle of Okinawa, and was the location of Rear Adm. Minoru Ota’s famous final telegram to the Japanese Naval Vice Admiral requesting future special consideration for the people of Okinawa for their treatment at the hands of both the Japanese and U.S. forces before his death.
For some Sailors, the visit provided a new perspective on the Battle of Okinawa, and allowed for a better understanding of the Okinawan people’s involvement in the war.
“This trip has been a humbling experience,” said Cryptologic Technician (Collection) 2nd Class Joseph Pierce, from Reno, Nev. “To see the conditions that the Okinawans had to go through at that time period, it’s really eye-opening.”
Bonhomme Richard is operating in the Indo-Pacific region as part of a regularly scheduled patrol and provides a rapid-response capability in the event of a regional contingency or natural disaster.
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