Tag Archives: leyte island

Veterans Day 2011 Part 6 (A look back at Okinawa)

This portion below appeared in an article I did for the Saline Courier about 18 months ago:

I went to the First Baptist Church in Little Rock from 1983 to 1997, and during that time I became friends with Walter Dickinson Sr. In fact, we used to attend a weekly luncheon together on Thursdays. 
Just this week I was told that Mr. Dickinson fought in War World II. I called him up yesterday, and he told me his story. 
In 1939 Walter joined the National Guard in Wooster, Mass., where he grew up. He was activated in January 1941 and was trained in Fort Benning, Ga. The military moved him down to Little Rock, and that is where he met his future wife, Carlice, and their first date was at Little Rock’s First Baptist Church in downtown Little Rock in 1943. 
He was shipped out in May 1943 to Leyte Island in the Philippines, but before he left, he told Carlice if she would wait for him, then he would marry her upon his return. He did that in December  1945 at the First Baptist Church of Little Rock. 
Dickinson remembers Easter Day, April 1,1945, like it was yesterday. He landed as an infantryman on the island of Okinawa in what was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific War, and lucky for the Americans the Japanese were not there to meet them on the beaches. Instead, they were dug in the side of the mountain waiting for them. 

He was a 2nd Lieutenant, which was the group that got wiped out the most. Dickinson said that he was a replacement lieutenant.
The main objective of the operation was to seize a large island only 340 miles away from mainland Japan. The plan was to use Okinawa as a base for air operations on the planned invasion of Japan. 
On April 20, 1945, Dickinson was hit by shrapnel, and he was sent to the army hospital in Guam. He got fixed up and then prepared for the invasion of Japan. However, President Truman had two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Japan surrendered  shortly before the invasion of Japan was to begin. 
Japan lost over 100,000 troops, and the Americans suffered more than 12,500 dead and 35,000 wounded at Okinawa. 
Walter Dickinson will turn 89 in three months, and he is still active today. He received the Purple Heart, and after the war he got his law degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and set up his practice in Little Rock.

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