Anti-aircraft fire lights up the sky during the battle for Okinawa


I think I mentioned how huge our fitting was standing out there in the water. There was everything during the landing.  I looked around, there were hospital ships, destroyers and tankers and every conceivable type of warship from destroyers, cruisers, light cruisers, carriers, they were all out there as far as the eye could see.  It was so awesome that it is hard to describe. 

What I’m leading up to is that one night, I don’t know if it was in the same location that we had been in, but it was dark and we were looking up at the sky because we heard the drone of a Japanese airplane which sounded way up there, it was like an angry bee, roaring around up there just lazing away.  I guess the radar picked him up and the search lights went on, they were all over the island while we were occupying it and the searchlights started to search for that airplane.  It took quite a little while before one searchlight finally picked him up.  It looked like a big white bird up in the sky and as soon as that first search light picked him up the others followed suit.  He must have been in the glare of at least several dozen search lights. 

Everything on the island opened up—every anti-aircraft gun, even the smaller stuff like 20mm and everything out in the ocean, all the ships out there started to fire at him.  They must have used tons and tons of ammunitions and the sky was crisscrossed with white and red lines. I believe there is a picture somewhere whether it’s in Life Magazine or one of those, I don’t know; but it was just amazing to watch.  I’ll never forget the sight.  They never did get the airplane, it just flew away after a while.
Another night we were lying there trying to sleep and something happened because the ground forces up ahead of us apparently called for Naval gun fire to help them and some of the big battle ships out there started to fire their big guns, their 16” guns and the shells were going over our heads and out toward the Japanese.  When they came over it sounded like a freight train, just unbelievable and I thought “My God. I’m glad I’m not on the other side of that”.  The Japanese must have really trembled when they heard that.
This  reminds me about the stories that the Guadalcanal guys used to tell about being shelled every night by the Japanese navy, just off of Guadalcanal they expected the Japanese fleet in every night since there was nobody to stop them.  Our guys would just dig their foxholes deeper and deeper, whenever they got a chance they would dig their holes. I was told they would use ladders to get down into the hole, so it must have been quite deep.  They would go around and pick up fallen trees or logs wherever they could and put them over the openings and covered them with steel plates or whatever was available.