Seven Stars: The Okinawa Battle Diaries of Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr. and Joseph Stilwell
Texas A&M University Press, 2004 - Biography & Autobiography - 189 pages
Battle diaries are essential for understanding what generals are thinking as they work their way through the fog of battle. Nicholas Sarantakes juxtaposes the diaries of two very different generals who both fought at Okinawa: Lt. Gen. Buckner, a by–the–numbers man who favored the use of artillery and tanks to reduce entrenched positions, and Gen. Stilwell, a prickly outsider who preferred maneuver to set–piece battles. Sarantakes identifies individuals, includes explanations of important events alluded to by the generals and provides glossaries of main characters and military terms. The result is a record of how Buckner and Stilwell came to grips with the problems of command on a war-torn island at the end of a long logistical tether.
With the background information provided by Sarantakes, the diaries of these men become accessible to the reader. Buckner is the more restrained, a southern gentleman whose career was average and whose diary entries are interspersed with letters to his wife. He shuttles between forward command posts and shipboard conferences, noting how much rain has fallen, how many enemy have been killed, and how many aircraft have been shot down.
Stilwell is a self-styled outsider, a brilliant warrior with the social graces of a porcupine. He dislikes Buckner and has little patience for his irreverent humor. Stilwell writes, “Buckner is tiresome. I tried to tell him what I had seen, but he knew it all. Keeps repeating his wise-cracks. ‘The Lord said let there be mud,’ etc. etc.” ( June 5, 1944). Stilwell’s entries are peppered with frank and often acrid observations about everything and everybody. He dismisses the British as “hoggish, inconsiderate” Limeys and atomic scientists as “temperamental bugs.”
The battle for Okinawa was a pivotal event in World War II and has the distinction of being the single bloodiest conflict in the history of the United States Navy. The diaries of these two men provide a new perspective from which to evaluate the events. This book is a fascinating exploration of the art of leading troops in battle and will interest scholars and students of the Pacific War.
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165th Infantry Regiment 1st Mardiv 6th Mardiv 7th Div 7th Infantry 96th Div 96th Infantry Division ADELE BUCKNER air attacks Air Force airfield American Amphibious Corps April Army chief artillery ashore battle beaches bomb Brig BUCKNER TO ADELE campaign chief of staff China combat commanding officer diary Div CPs Doug Eichelberger emphasis in original enemy fighting Frank and Shaw Geiger Hodge Ie Shima III Amphibious Corps Infantry Regiment island Japan Japanese Japanese Thirty-second Army Japs Kerama Retto killed landing lunch MacArthur Marine Corps Marine Division Marshall military Naha naval Navy NewYork Herald Tribune Nimitz Okinawa operations Pacific Ocean Areas Papers Phibcorps Post radio rain Rear Adm reported Service ship Shuri Simon Bolivar Buckner Spruance staff officer Stilwell Stilwell's surrender tanks Tenth Army troops U.S. Army Forces U.S. Pacific Fleet Unable to identify units Vice Adm Victory and Occupation XXIV Corps
Page 30 - I doubt if the Army's slow, methodical method of fighting really saves any lives in the long run. It merely spreads the casualties over a longer period. The longer period greatly increases the naval casualties when Jap air attacks on ships is a continuing factor" (Buell, The Quiet Warrior, 387).
Page 30 - I doubt if the Army slow, methodical method of fighting really saves any lives in the long run. It merely spreads the casualties over a longer period. The longer period greatly increases the naval casualties when Jap air attacks on ships is a continuing factor. However, I do not think the Army is at all allergic to losses of naval ships and personnel. "There are times when I get impatient for some of Holland Smith's drive, but there is nothing we can do about it.