The final campaign of World War 2 began April 1, 1945 (April 2 in the USA). It was the American air, sea and land invasion of the Japanese island of Okinawa.
By that time it was obvious Japan was defeated. The war in Europe was over with Germany’s surrender that week. Allied forces were closing in for complete destruction of Japan’s military, as well as daily bombing of its ports and cities.
Okinawa was the bloodiest battle of the war in the Pacific, with thousands of ships sunk, aircraft destroyed and hundreds of thousands killed, both military and civilians. Japanese casualties were higher than those in the atom bombing of Hiroshima and Nagisaki that ended the war just four months later
At the time, I was aboard a Navy troop transport ship, and then with an advanced Navy unit in the Philippines. It took decades for this old swabbie to figure it out, but the obvious finally occurred to me. I won’t ridicule what all those brave young guys did to win the war. However, from earliest history, sneaky old guys wearing crowns, turbans, beards, feathers, helmets and holier-than-thou attitudes have been sending young guys out to die.
The causes vary, such as religion, patriotism, revenge, politics, jealousy, hate and at least a dozen other absolutely stupid reasons. Hell, I fell for it at age 16 when Pearl Harbor was bombed. Still in high school, I frothed and fumed at what all the newspapers called the dirty Japs and evil Huns. Patriotic me, I couldn’t wait until age 17 and get into the war.
Then I had enough sense to join the Navy. Teenage me didn’t mind dying for my country. However, I chose to do it above clean ocean water, not with a little rifle in some stinky mud hole. As a sailor, I could sit behind a big shipboard gun and kill those enemy teenagers on sea and in the sky without getting my uniform too dirty.
It’s still happening today. Some old mullah, preacher, general or politician yaps: Volunteer for the holy cause, boys! You must go out and kill those other boys. And when you die gloriously in battle or with a bomb strapped to your chest, think of all the posthumous medals, parades and ceremonies they’ll celebrate in your honor back home.
Of course, you’ll never get the chance to enjoy them, nor a full life, family, career nor die peacefully in bed as an old guy. However, you must believe in reincarnation, heaven, Valhalla, paradise, postmortem virgins or some other magic afterlife. Think of the fun you’ll have when you earn celestial wings and endless supplies of Viagra!