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Typhoon at Okinawa
Part of World War II with Walter Cronkite
Produced by Isaac Kleinerman
Written by Robert Shaplen
CBS Video, 1982, 23 min., Video

CBS News broadcasted in 1982 this World War II documentary series totaling 22 hours, and the network's famed anchorman Walter Cronkite provided the narration. The three-hour video shown at right includes eight separate segments on the Pacific War. A 23-minute segment [1] entitled "Typhoon at Okinawa" deals with Japanese kamikaze attacks against American ships off Okinawa. Although this segment offers some interesting footage, the limited narrative provides very few details on the background and causes of the Battle of Okinawa and the kamikaze attacks from April to June 1945.

Orchestral music with loud brass and percussion fills "Typhoon at Okinawa," but the documentary lacks historical analysis. Several places in the film, one longer than three minutes, have only this music to accompany the film footage with no narrative explanation. Even though this short documentary segment covers only kamikaze attacks during the Battle of Okinawa, the film shows without explanation several clips of kamikaze pilots and sorties made in the Philippines about six months prior to the start of the Okinawan conflict [2]. The segment on "Typhoon at Okinawa" also does not have interviews with or quotations from battle participants or military leaders.

The documentary's producer includes a couple of parts that have limited relevance to the Battle of Okinawa and the kamikaze attacks. A one-minute segment shows American planes crashing as they try to make carrier landings, but the narration does not explain their relevance to this documentary's main theme. The film also includes four minutes on a typhoon that hit Okinawa in early June 1945, but most of this part just has loud orchestral music with various clips of waves pounding ships. Most short documentaries and histories of the Battle of Okinawa do not mention this typhoon, since it had no significant effect on the outcome.

The video contains seven other segments on the Pacific War, including New Guinea, aircraft carrier Enterprise, Aleutian Islands, Japanese Americans, Burma Road, Tarawa, and Hiroshima. "The Nisei: The Pride and the Shame," a 23-minute segment [3] on the experiences of Japanese Americans during World War II, has an excellent narrative and includes fascinating interviews with several Japanese Americans. This segment covers the experiences of camp internment and the battle accomplishments of the highly decorated 442nd Regimental Combat Team made up of Japanese Americans.

Although the eight separate segments of this video have some interesting sections, "Typhoon at Okinawa" contains few insights into Japan's kamikaze operations. Vague explanations such as "fanaticism of mass suicide," inclusion of two barely relevant topics (i.e., carrier landings, typhoon), and overuse of orchestral music without narrative make this a documentary segment to be skipped.


1. From 2:11:30 to 2:34:45 in video.

2. From 2:15:05 to 2:15:35 in video.

3. From 1:01:30 to 1:24:50 in video.