Letter to the editor: Freedom’s cost
To the editor:
Seventy-five years ago the last U.S. battle of World War II was fought on the tiny island of Okinawa just 350 miles south of mainland Japan. We suffered approximately 50,000 casualties and the Japanese approximately 100,000.
I was only 18 years old and with the Navy Construction Battalion (Seabees) attached to the Sixth Marine Division. After Okinawa was secured we were assembling troops and equipment with which to attack mainland Japan that fall of 1945. By Aug. 1 we had a million troops and their equipment on the island. The official estimates were that we would have had 50% casualties when we invaded Japan.
Then early in August 1945 President Truman ordered the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan. The Japanese finally surrendered on the USS Missouri on Tokyo Bay. The US Marines set up a military government to rebuild Okinawa and make some permanent U.S. bases there. I was assigned to the supply division and we helped the natives to rebuild their lives.
By May of 1946 I was on a transport ship and back in Kansas for Mother’s Day. Then to KU on the GI Bill for four years of architectural engineering.
I fervently hope that current and future generations never forget that freedom isn’t free; sometimes we have to fight for it. We now have six different memorials on the KU campus that commemorate and list those who died for our freedom.