The Battle of Okinawa lasted for almost three months, from April 1 and on into late June 1945. It was the bloodiest battle in the Pacific theater of World War II. It involved more than 180,000 Marine Corps and Army troops and the US Navy Fifth Fleet and was intended to be the final assault before an attack on the Japanese mainland. Overcoming the airbases in Okinawa was crucial as a step to Japan itself.
As American troops came to shore on the beaches of Okinawa, the Japanese offered little resistance. Instead, the Japanese had 130,000 troops hidden in the rough and hilly country in the interior, where American casualties were heavy. At the same time, suicidal kamikaze pilots attacked the ships of the Fifth Fleet.
One of the most horrific battles on Okinawa took place on Maeda Escarpment, also known as Hacksaw Ridge. This was a vertical cliff that Americans had to climb before overcoming the Japanese troops embedded at the top. Many lives were lost on both sides. It is memorialized in the recent film Hacksaw Ridge, which highlights the heroism of Desmond T. Doss, a medic who received the Medal of Honor.
When the Battle of Okinawa was almost over, many Japanese soldiers and Okinawa civilians, having heard propaganda about the brutality of the Americans, committed suicide instead of surrendering.
Statistics vary about the total number of casualties from the Battle of Okinawa. The Cornerstone of Peace, a monument commemorating the Battle of Okinawa, is located on the island. One of its purposes is to remember those lost in the battle. According to the count at the Cornerstone of Peace, the total number of battle casualties was 241,132. This included 149,233 Okinawans (including conscripted soldiers and civilians), 77,327 other Japanese, 14,009 Americans, 82 British, 34 Taiwanese, and 447 Koreans.