And Then, Okinawa . . .
From the battle of Iwo Jima, the U.S.S. DARKE sailed south, down under the equator to Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides. There she embarked a battalion of the 27th Infantry Division, then rushed north to Ulithy and on to the Ryukus Gunto. Early dawn on 9 April 1945 she sailed by Kerama Rhetto toward Hagushi beaches on western Okinawa, North of Naha town. In mid-morning, the soldiers of the 27th were put ashore. There had been sporadic air raids but little or no fire on the beaches. The landing of troops was uneventful. With a wide and shallow coral beach, the unloading of cargo began. Still all was unbelievably quiet. That night brought Jap planes and "general quarters". G.Q. had us up most of the night . . . a snatch of sleep and then "general quarters, all hands man your battle stations!" We didn't know it then, but this was to be repeated as long as we were in the area. Heavy weather April 10th almost stopped unloading. Slow work by the Army shore party, created a circle of cargo boats waiting to be unloaded that was one mile wide and two miles long. Jap planes, "Kamikazes", fighter, bomber and torpedo planes were ever-present visitors. Unloading became a dreary, weary ordeal. A happy and welcome sight was presented when some 70 Navy Corsairs flew over and landed on captured Yontan airfield.
Early on the morning of April 12th, we learned that death had come to our Commander-in-Chief, Franklin D. Roosevelt. An atmosphere of shock and sorrow pervaded the ships and beaches of Hagushi Wan, Okinawa. Later in the day, one of our sailors was wounded but after treatment, continued with the job of unloading the ship. After days and nights of air raids, during which two Jap planes were shot down near the ship, one crashing within twenty yards, we were unloaded. Again came the job of taking casualties aboard. The wardroom became the sorting station where immediate aid was given, plasma administered and patients prepared for surgery. The Darke weighed anchor with 245 casualties and this time only one brave soldier was buried at sea. On arrival at Saipan, weary doctors and corpsmen worked through the night transferring patients to the hospital. Once again the Darke had survived a bitter and bloody battle.