It was the most important Allied amphibious touchdown within the Pacific theater and marked the ultimate island battle of the Pacific.
On April 1, 1945, roughly 60,000 U.S. Marines and troopers of the U.S. Tenth Military waded ashore from touchdown craft onto the seashores of Okinawa.
Dubbed the “Hurricane of Metal” because of its ferocity, Military and Marine divisions within the Battle of Okinawa sought to wrest the island from Japanese management to sever the final southwest provide line to mainland Japan, whereas establishing the island as a base for American medium bombers.
Amid the chaos and fixed onslaught of Japanese aerial assaults, was 23-year-old Lt. Richard Miles McCool, Jr., commander of USS LCS-122.
Stationed at Radar Picket 15, simply north of Okinawa, McCool, Touchdown Craft Assist and different destroyers had been assigned to alert U.S. forces on the island of approaching enemy plane.
Whereas on picket obligation on June 10, the Oklahoma native acquired phrase that the destroyer USS William D. Porter — sure, the identical “Willie D” that just about unintentionally killed President Franklin D. Roosevelt — had been struck by a kamikaze.
The destroyer truly had initially evaded the Japanese “Val” dive bomber, however the Willie D’s string of unhealthy luck continued to know no bounds. The Val had splashed harmlessly close by — nevertheless it in some way ended up beneath the Willie D and promptly exploded.
In keeping with the National WWII Museum, “the ship leapt out of the water and fell again; her energy out, steam strains burst, and fires breaking out. Though the ship’s crew fought valiantly after three hours, the commanding officer ordered the ship deserted. Because the order got here down, slightly below 300 crew needed to evacuate. Performing her obligation as a ‘pallbearer,’ LCS-122, with McCool in command, labored to rescue the ship’s crew. Extremely, there have been no fatalities.”
The next day, nonetheless, McCool and his crew weren’t as fortunate.
As he recalled in an interview with the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, the destroyers had been sitting in a diamond formation, appearing as a part of a display some three to 4 miles away. That meant that as a way to get to the destroyers, the Japanese needed to cross proper by McCool’s LCS.
The primary kamikaze got here at McCool low — so low, actually, that he “was afraid that the individuals within the 40 millimeter gun mount may need been hit by the wheels.”
His crew managed to down the primary, with the Japanese airplane crashing harmlessly off the port bow.
The second kamikaze nonetheless, adopted too shortly.
“I did get the weapons on it, however not sufficient to do any good, so it hit eight to 10 toes under the place I used to be standing … I don’t actually keep in mind a lot of what was happening after that … Once I lastly got here to, I used to be the one particular person there within the conning tower.”
Severely wounded and struggling extreme burns, McCool refused medical therapy and rallied his males to battle the flames shortly engulfing the LCS-122.
In keeping with his Medal of Honor quotation, McCool “proceeded to the rescue of a number of trapped in a blazing compartment, subsequently carrying one man to security regardless of the excruciating ache of further extreme burns. Unmindful of all private hazard, he continued his efforts with out respite till assist arrived from different ships and he was evacuated.”
For his actions off Okinawa, McCool was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman in December 1945.
Recovered from his wounds, McCool remained within the Navy earlier than retiring in 1974 with the rank of captain.
McCool’s full Medal of Honor citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity on the threat of his life above and past the decision of obligation as commanding officer of the usS. LCS (L) (3) 122 throughout operations towards enemy Japanese forces within the Ryukyu Chain, 10 and 11 June 1945. Sharply vigilant throughout hostile air raids towards Allied ships on radar picket obligation off Okinawa on 10 June, Lt. McCool aided materially in evacuating all survivors from a sinking destroyer which had sustained mortal injury beneath the devastating assaults. When his personal craft was attacked concurrently by two of the enemy’s suicide squadron early within the night of 11 June, he immediately hurled the complete energy of his gun batteries towards the plunging plane, taking pictures down the primary and damaging the second earlier than it crashed his station within the conning tower and engulfed the instant space in a mass of flames. Though affected by shrapnel wounds and painful burns, he rallied his concussion-shocked crew and initiated vigorous firefighting measures after which proceeded to the rescue of a number of trapped in a blazing compartment, subsequently carrying one man to security regardless of the excruciating ache of further extreme burns. Unmindful of all private hazard, he continued his efforts with out respite till assist arrived from different ships and he was evacuated. By his staunch management, succesful path, and indomitable willpower all through the disaster, Lt. McCool saved the lives of many who in any other case may need perished and contributed materially to the saving of his ship for additional fight service. His valiant spirit of self- sacrifice within the face of utmost peril sustains and enhances the very best traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.
A sailor and hero befitting his title, certainly.