Kamikaze Attacks on American Warships During the Second World War

Soldier recounts experience with Japanese kamikaze attacks on an American fleet off the coast of Okinawa.

| Good Old Days

We had been at sea over a month, fighting the Second World War against Japan, when we dropped anchor off the Okinawan shore in July 1945. Although the island was secured in June, our incoming outfit was to man the huge new air base being built to launch B-29 attacks on the Japanese homeland. 

Spread out in all directions were huge numbers of American warships. These ships were vulnerable to deadly kamikaze attacks.

Japanese kamikaze pilots were young boys, who were trained to fly small planes that carried one bomb on a one-way suicide flight. Their objective was to dive their planes into our ships. Whole armadas of kamikazes attacked our fleet. That tactic had been used successfully, and the loss of ships and lives had been horrendous.

We assembled, complete with backpacks, and began to descend the nets into landing craft alongside when mayhem broke out all over. Air-raid alert sirens sounded throughout the fleet. Loudspeakers blared, "All troops back aboard. All troops below decks." Gunfire came from all quarters.

All our ships immediately laid down a heavy smoke screen to hide themselves from incoming aircraft. The sky became a gigantic cauldron of death, as all anti-aircraft guns sent up a continual barrage of fire and tracers, leaving a fiery pattern across the sky. To those of us observing, it was a tremendous fireworks display that we weren't permitted to watch very long.

As far as we knew, no ships were lost, but for the Japanese pilots, their mission had been a one-way trip to death.

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