WWII In The Pacific
Lt. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner

Buckner is in the front, Maj. Gen. Shepherd is on the left

It was Lt. Gen. Simon B. Buckner's strange fascination with the 8th Marines, 2d Marine Division that proved to be his downfall. He'd been so impressed with this Marine rifle regiment that he specifically requested they be sent for the landings that would signal the end of the battle on Okinawa. The Tenth Army Commander was loved by his men, but was hardheaded. Early on June 18, 1945, Buckner wanted to witness the fighting and selected the 1st Division front as his vantage point. Although he was urged to stay back by Colonel Harold C. Roberts, commander of the 22nd Marines, Buckner forged ahead.

Buckner selected a ridge where 3/8 had a forward observation post and took position between two coral boulders. The space between them was perfect for viewing the tank-infantry operations below. But fate intervened and minutes later a Japanese 47mm antitank shell hit the base of the coral, soon followed by five more shells. No one knows for sure, but either a fragment of the shell or a piece of coral hit Buckner in the chest and he died ten minutes later.

A memorial now sits at the site of Buckner's death, just off Hwy 331 near Naha. A memorial tablet, written in English, was placed on the site in 1985, after many people complained the area was not cared for. Now, it is well-tended, has several different memorials on it, and honors the Americans, Okinawans, and Japanese who died in the war.