|While the XXIV Corps prepared to resume its offensive against the Shuri defenses, the Marine conquest of the Motobu Peninsula facilitated the 77th Division's assault on Ie Shima, a small island three and one-half miles off the western end of the peninsula. The division's 305th and 306th Infantry landed on 16 April, followed almost immediately by the 307th, which had been held in reserve, when resistance by elements of the 2d Infantry Unit proved determined. The heaviest fighting was at Bloody Ridge, south of Iegusugu Mountain (which the GIs also named "the Pinnacle"--one of several so-called pinnacles featured in the Ryukyus Campaign), and on Iegusugu itself. |
Near Bloody Ridge the men of the 77th faced a wide variety of hazards, from heavy mortar barrages, to individual suicide charges by explosive-laden sappers intent on blowing up as many Americans as possible, and even to Japanese women armed with spears. During the fighting on Ie Shima the well-known war correspondent Ernie Pyle was killed and later buried in the 77th Division cemetery there. The island was declared secured on 21 April and became an ideal base for air operations against neighboring Okinawa.