Wednesday, July 4, 2012

PFC Vladimir Vodicka and the Battle of Okinawa

by Pa Rock

The Battle of Okinawa was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific during World War II.  It began on April 1st, 1945 and came to an end eighty-two days later on June 21st, 1945, with the Allied Forces (almost entirely American) victorious.  The battle was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific during World War II, and was referred to by the Japanese as the Typhoon of Steel.  That victory gave the Allies the positioning they needed for the final assault on  Japan.

Fourteen thousand and nine Americans died in the Battle of Okinawa.  Today, Independence Day, 2012, I was finally able to get back to Peace Prayer Park on the southern tip of Okinawa and take pictures of the names of all of those men inscribed on a memorial wall at the park.  I will post those names as a memorial and a genealogy resource on the Internet in the near future.

The memorial wall is composed of ninety-three large granite panels, each containing well over a hundred names.  The names are alphabetical by last name, and are in three A-Z groupings - probably broken out according to branch of service of service, but there is no way to tell that for sure, and the few people in the museum who might know all claim to speak no English.  I will get that figured out as I begin to work with the names and do some basic research.

Today I was able to find the name of the famous war correspondent, Ernie (Ernest T.) Pyle, who was killed by a sniper on the small island of Ie Shima as the battle was raging.  (Pyle was such an important figure in the war that President Truman himself went on the air to announce the sad news of his death.)   Ernie Pyle's name along with about a dozen others, presumably all civilians or perhaps journalists, was contained in two or three lines of names that were between two of the large alphabetical sections.

As I was walking through the granite panels that form the wall (walls, actually), I had time to study some of the names.  One that I found struck me as so unusual that when I got back to Kadena I decided to do some basic research to see what I could learn about the individual..

Vladimir Vodicka was from the state of Iowa.  He was born on February 7, 1922, and died during the first week of the battle on April 6th, 1945.  PFC Vodicka served in the 383 Infantry of the United States Army.  He is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (also known as "Punchbowl") in Honolulu, Hawaii.   (That is the same cemetery where Ernie Pyle is buried.)

Vladimir Vodicka was only twenty-three-years-old when he died - thousands of miles from home on a small island that was literally hell on earth.  He was one of thousands-upon-thousands who perished  in the fight to save the world from fascism.  We honor his memory and service when we vote and exercise our civil liberties - activities that would not be tolerated in a totalitarian state.

Thank you, PFC Vladimir Vodicka, for you service to America and the ideals of freedom.  The light of your courage and valor shines on.

1 comment:

d said...

Well done. Would that we all could find as wonderful a gift to the men and women who fight our wars