Battle of Okinawa begins, April 1st, 1945
The American island-hopping strategy began with the capture of Guadalcanal in 1942, which put American forces within 3,000 miles of Tokyo. Capturing Peleliu in late 1944 put the Americans within 2,000 miles. The surrender of Iwo Jima closed the distance to 750 miles. Okinawa is half that. It is the linchpin of the final American campaign against Japan. The closer to Tokyo the Americans advance, the more brutal the fighting becomes. Japan’s casualties will number more than 100,000 dead soldiers in the 82 days of fighting. More than 20,000 Americans are killed, including 5,000 American soldiers killed in kamikaze attacks.