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Battle Sites and WWII Research Trips
Wana Ridge is located northeast of Naha and just west of Shuri Castle at  2613'46.75"N Latitude, 12742'52.06"E Longitude. 

The battle at Wana Ridge became the defining moment in the Okinawa campaign for Marines of the 1st Marine Division.  After 7th Regiment assaulted Dakeshi Ridge on May 10th, 1st Regiment headed south towards the western end of Wana Ridge.  On the way, they took heavy fire from the Japanese gun emplacements atop Wana Ridge and Hill 55, which lies south of Wana Ridge across Wana Draw.  In response, 1st Regiment swung wide and continued the drive south in conjunction with 6th Marine Division on their right flank.  After 7th Regiment was successful in taking Dakeshi on May 13th, they launched a coordinated attack with 1st Regiment, the former assaulting Wana Ridge from Dakeshi and the later attacking Hill 55.  The driving force in 1st Regiment's attack on Hill 55 was Third Battalion (3/1) and they were repelled by the Japanese defenders.  The following day brought another coordinated attack between the 7th and the 1st, both focusing their efforts on Wana Ridge this time with the 7th driving due south from Dakeshi and the 1st assaulting up the western end of the ridge.  Both regiments saw limited success but were unable to connect atop the ridge due to the Japanese employment of reverse-slope tactics and hostile fire from Hill 55 and Shuri Heights.  By this time 1st Regiment had lost a number of Marines and was relieved by 5th Regiment on the western end of Wana Ridge.  On May 16th, 7th Regiment tried their luck on the western end of Wana Ridge while the 5th began a deadly assault up Wana Draw.   With hostile fires coming at them from three surrounding elevated positions, 5th Regiment was pushed back to the western end of the draw by nightfall, but not before they were able to direct fire support from the USS Colorado on two enemy anti-tank positions on the slope of Hill 55.  While the 5th was battling up the Draw, 1st Battalion 7th Regiment (1/7) was taking heavy casualties from counter-attacks along Wana Ridge.  The following day 1/7 was relieved by 3/7.  3/7 conducted three assaults on the ridge but was pushed back each time.  3/7's Commanding Officer, LtCol Hurst, earned the Navy Cross for his actions atop the ridge.  While 3/7 was busy on the Ridge, 2/5 was storming Hill 55.  2/5's success on Hill 55 signaled a turn of events for the Marines on Wana Ridge, although 7th Regiment's massive losses would take them out of the main drive for the ridge from here out.  Since they began the assault on Dakeshi on May 10th, 7th Regiment had lost 1000 Marines.  On May 19th, with 2/5 in control of Hill 55, 1st Regiment got a second chance and replaced the 7th.  The following day, 1st Regiment launched a two-prong attack on Wana Ridge with 3/1 assaulting up the western end of the ridge while 2/1 attacked the eastern end driving for Knob Hill.  Both battalions were successful, though they were unable to link up and 2/1 could not hold Knob Hill.  The next day, 3/1 continued their drive across the ridge.  To ease pressure on 3/1 and 2/5 and help eliminate counter-attack forces hidden in caves along the reverse slope of Wana Ridge, 2/1 hand carried drums of napalm to the top of the ridge, cut them open and poured the napalm over the cliffs, igniting it with phosphorus grenades.  2/1 again assaulted Knob Hill with more success.  The evening of the 21st, 3/1 and 2/1 repelled a 200 man counter-attack in a brutal hand grenade fight, ending the fight for Wana Ridge and opening the corridor for the 1st Marine Division to assault the 32nd Army's Headquarters under Shuri Castle.


The reverse slope of Wana Ridge seen from Wana Draw circa 1945


The same picture overlaid with a 50% opaque picture taken by Mike on 9 November 2006 from the Sueyoshi Park, on the slope of Hill 55.


Google Earth satellite photo of Wana Ridge in 2006.  The Naha monorail along Hwy 82 boarders the bottom of the picture.  Asa river splits the park south of the marker.  100 meter hill is the tree covered area northeast of the marker.

Appleman, Roy E., James M. Burns, Russel A. Gugeler, and John Stevens.  United States Army in World War II, The War in the Pacific, Okinawa: The Last Battle.  Online edition retrieved from http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-P-Okinawa/index.html on 12 November 2006.


PME on Wana Ridge

SSgt Fleming gives a pre-PT PME on the 1st Marine Division's fight for Wana Ridge.

LCpl Begay listens as LCpl Erb discussing the scheme of manuever at Wana Ridge.

Sueyashi-Gu Shrine atop Wana Ridge.

Wana Ridge PME

SSgt Fleming explains the details of each regiment's actions at Wana Ridge.

Wana Ridge PME

The Marines stand on the slope of Hill 55 as SSgt Fleming explains how 2/5 was able to take the strategic position from the Japanese defenders.

SSgt Fleming points out key terrain features with the aid of a hasty map.

Wana Draw as seen from Hill 55.

LCpl Brockhaus holds the map as SSgt Fleming points out adjacent unit boundaries.

SSgt Fleming points out Knob Hill atop Wana Ridge.

Following the PME on the fight for Wana Ridge, the Marines follow SSgt Fleming on a PT run from Hill 55 down to the Asa River and up the reverse slop of Wana Ridge.

Wana Ridge seen from the slope of Hill 55.

Tunnel near the crest of Wana Ridge, south of 100 meter hill.

N26 13.727 E127 42.956

Nearly verticle shaft at the eastern end of Wana Ridge.

N26 13.674 E127 43.067

Another tunnel just below the cliffs where 2nd Bn poured napalm over the edge of Wana Ridge. Burn marks are still visable on the cliff face.

N26 13.799 E127 42.972

N26 13.790 E127 42.970

N26 13.782 E127 42.930

N26 13.789 E127 42.915

Cliff wall behind the shrine atop Wana Ridge.

Mike and the boys at the shrine atop Wana Ridge.

Shuri Castle is the background on the left.

Paula and the boys atop Wana Ridge.

Josh and Jonah under the shrine on Wana Ridge.

The shrine as seen from hill 55's slope (with zoom).

 
 
 

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