D-Days in the Pacific: The Final Graveyard
DVD set produced by Lou Reda
Episode written by Normal Stahl and produced by Sammy Jackson
The History Channel, 2006, 276 min. (set), DVD
The first DVD of this two-DVD set includes three documentaries that make up
the series entitled D-Days in the Pacific, a chronological account of
several of the some 75 major U.S. amphibious landings in the Pacific during
World War II, including Guadalcanal, Attu in Alaska, Tarawa, Saipan, Peleliu,
Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. A D-Day is when the actual attack of any
military operation will begin, so each separate landing during the Pacific War
was technically a D-Day, which means based on this definition that there were
over 100 D-Days that were executed by the U.S. military against Japan during the Pacific War. The second DVD has three documentaries, one on the bloody battle
to take the island of Peleliu, much of which gets used in the first DVD's
segment on the Battle of Peleliu, and biographies of Admiral Chester Nimitz and
General Douglas MacArthur, leaders of America's advance across the Pacific
The episodes in D-Days in the Pacific provide a good mix of comments
by veterans who fought in the battles covered and Pacific War historians. The
shows focus on the American side of these D-Days with no interviews of
Japanese veterans or historians and with only brief coverage of Japan's military
strategies. The narrator emphasizes that the Pacific War D-Days need to be
recognized alongside the great D-Day in Normandy, France, where 3,000 Allied
soldiers died. Over 20,000 American soldiers, sailors, and marines died during
Pacific D-Days as they faced Japanese soldiers who fought to the death in order
to defend the islands that they occupied.
"The Final Graveyard" episode covers D-Days at the Philippines, Iwo Jima, and
Okinawa. This episode has a segment of about ten minutes entitled "Kamikaze," which
includes four minutes on aerial kamikaze attacks against the American invasion force around Okinawa
and the suicide mission of the battleship Yamato toward Okinawa on April
6-7, 1945. The narrator starts the segment by incorrectly stating that Japan's
first mass kamikaze attack took place on D-Day plus 6, which would be April 7,
rather than April 6 when it actually occurred. However, later in the segment the
narrator accurately says that it took place on D-Day plus 5. The narrator states
that the Japanese sacrificed 1,465 pilots and planes
between April 6 and June 22, 1945. This is inaccurate, since the figure does not
relate to pilots but rather planes that flew suicide missions from Kyushu in
the ten mass kamikaze attacks during the Battle of Okinawa (according the U.S.
Strategic Bombing Survey). In addition, there were 185 planes that participated
in sporadic small-scale suicide attacks, and 250 kamikaze planes that flew from
Taiwan, so in total 1,900 planes are estimated by U.S. authorities to have flown
suicide missions during the Battle of Okinawa .
The episode includes comments from an officer who during the Battle of Okinawa
was on the battleship Missouri, which was hit by a kamikaze aircraft on April 11,
but had little damage and no deaths due to the ship's thick armor.
1. Rielly 2008, 85.
Rielly, Robin L. 2008.
Kamikazes, Corsairs, and Picket Ships:
Okinawa, 1945. Philadelphia: Casemate.