Daybreak on April 2, 1945. True, it was Easter Sunday, but the last thing Louis Boyle had on his mind was the resurrection of Jesus or church services. That’s because the young Marine was standing aboard the USS Sea Bass, one of 50,000 American soldiers, about to invade the island of Okinawa.
With the sun breaking the horizon, Louis clambered over the side of his ship while 10 foot waves pounded him and the landing craft that would carry him onto the beach’s shoreline. His mission that morning was as perilous as it was simple: plant a white flag bearing the letter “C” on the beach marking the area where supplies, ammunition, and food would later be collected for his division.
When his landing craft jolted against the sand, Boyle jumped ashore carrying a 50-pound pack, his rifle, a shovel, and the flagpole. When he arrived at the predetermined position, he feverishly began to dig. A few minutes into his task, another soldier tried to run by him, but tripped on Boyle’s flagpole. Louis snapped around and angrily growled, “Watch where you’re going!”
But when he did, he found himself staring into the eyes of Leo Boyle, his baby brother whom he hadn’t seen in over a year! Leo, the last of 16 children, had joined the Navy Seabees, though Louis had no idea that his younger brother had been sent to Okinawa.
Euphoria erupted between the two young men. “We were just hugging each other, laughing and crying, both, I think,” recalls Louis. “Rolling around on the ground, wrassling. Oh it was joyful.”
The joy was short-lived. Both men were called back to reality when they heard the bombs being dropped and the explosions of shells erupting on the mountains above them. They had victory on their mind, and 82 days later, they achieved it.
But that victory was especially sweet for these two brothers, reunited on foreign soil, thousands of miles away from any other family members.
War Stories: Remembering World War II by Elizabeth Mullener. Berkley, 2002, Pages 237-238.
Topics Illustrated Include:
World War II
(Resource cataloged by David R Smith)