Dad’s Role in Operation Iceberg, Part 4, April 11, 1945

The 96th Infantry Division have been having difficulty taking Kakuzu Ridge in Okinawa. They have suffered many casualties in the past 3 days. The 383rd/3 battalion spent the night of April 10th on the north slope of the saddle.

Saddle between Kakuzu Ridge and Kakuzu West

They received ammunition and rations the morning of April 11th. At 1300, my dad and what was left of K Company charged across the open area in front of the second ridge. There was a barrage of artillery, mortar, machine gun, and rifle fire. During this charge, my dad, Private Harry J Rice, Jr, was struck in the elbow, hip, and knee by shrapnel from knee mortar which is a Type 89 Grenade. He continued on to set up his machine gun to protect the wave of infantrymen following him. A few minutes later, a 320mm spigot mortar shell burst in front of him, the concussion sent him flying backwards 20 feet. He remembers flying through the air and thinking “well this is it.” He was knocked unconscious, bleeding and suffering from internal injuries.

320mm Mortar

The 320 mm Mortar shells would leave craters 8 feet deep and 15 feet wide but had minimal fragmentation. They created a major concussive force which is what caused my dad to fly through the air.

My dad was taken to the Battalion Aide station for first aide and then evacuated to a hospital ship. To be continued.

References

Appleman, Roy E., et al. Okinawa: The Last Battle. United States Army in World War II. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1948.

Davidson, Orlando, et al. The Deadeyes. The Story of the 96th Infantry Division. Washington Infantry Journal Press, 1947.

Personal conversations with Harry J Rice, Jr.

Author unknown, Newsletter article from company my dad worked at, as of this writing, I haven’t identified the company.

Wikipedia. Type 98 320 mm Mortar. Accessed April 11, 2018.


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