Sorties into Hell: The Hidden War on Chichi Jima

Sorties into Hell: The Hidden War on Chichi Jima

Sorties into Hell: The Hidden War on Chichi Jima

Sorties into Hell: The Hidden War on Chichi Jima

Synopsis

In October 1946 Colonel Presley Rixey arrived by destroyer at Chichi Jima to repatriate 22,000 Japanese who had been bypassed during the war in the Pacific. While waiting for a Marine battalion to arrive, the colonel asked what had happened to American prisoners on the island. He discovered that the downed American flyers had been captured, executed, and eaten by certain senior Japanese officers. This is the story of the investigation, the cover-up, and the last hours of those Americans who disappeared into war's wilderness and whose remains were distributed to the cooking galleys of Chichi Jima.

Excerpt

For those who have studied World War II in the Pacific, enormous concentration has been focused on Iwo Jima. Many fine histories and personal accounts have been written, but there were other Jimas involved in the conflict. They were all overshadowed by Iwo, which lay at the southern end of a small Japanese military district called the Nanpo Shoto. Another of those little island Jimas deserves more attention.

Ten-square-mile Chichi Jima in the Bonin Islands chain became one of the war's historical oversights, but in 1944 the island ranked with Iwo Jima as a possible target for a massive American amphibious expedition. When the planners working for the Allied Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) drew a straight line from Iwo Jima to Tokyo Bay, they noticed that Chichi Jima lay 140 miles closer to the Japanese capital. Why the jcs decided to attack Iwo, though the volcanic island was smaller and farther away, had less to do with size and location and more to do with topography. With the exception of Mount Suribachi, a tall, inactive volcanic cone on the southern end of Iwo Jima, the remainder of the island was flat and already contained two Japanese airfields, with a third under construction.

The island of Chichi Jima was everything but flat. High cliffs rose sharply along shore, leaving only one small beach suitable for landing an amphibious force. Mountains and ravines cut through the heavily wooded interior, leaving not a level surface anywhere for building an airfield. the Japanese on Chichi created their one airstrip, and a small one at that, by connecting the main island to a small offshore islet by filling in the gap with rocks. There they built Susaki, a short airfield squeezed between two bays capable of handling small twin-engine trans-

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