Feb 10, 2014 -- NAHA CITY, Japan - With its red columns and intricate golden embellishments, Shuri Castle was first established in the 1400s and has since been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times.
As an integral part of Okinawa’s rich history, Shuri Castle has become a popular stop for all visitors to the island.
Marines and sailors with Combat Logistics Regiment 37 traveled to Shurijo Castle Park Jan. 24 in Naha City to see how this historical monument played a part in World War II.
During the war, the Imperial Japanese Army placed its underground headquarters underneath Shuri Castle for many reasons. One being that it offered a strategic position upon a hill that overlooked the different ridges.
“I think that the Japanese general was very smart that he chose that location to try to hold off the U.S. military forces for as long as possible,” said Lance Cpl. Damon A. McCoury, a heavy-equipment operator with CLR-37, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “It was pretty well fortified and not very easy to take. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like for the Marines charging up those hills. I understand why it was some of the hardest fighting of the war.”
For the Marines and sailors who visited Shuri Castle, it was evident how much different it was to explore the actual site of where the battle took place rather than reading it from the textbook.
“It’s not often that we can one day read about history in books and the next day see the location where that history was made and see for ourselves the heritage that our military and our nation has gone through,” said Navy Lt. Kevan Q. Lim, the chaplain of CLR-37. “It helps me to have an appreciation of those who went before, and helps us to understand a little better about why we’re here and why we do things the way we do.”
Before World War II, Shuri Castle was considered a treasure in Okinawa. Now 70 years later, Marines and sailors see how much it still means to the people.
“It made me hopeful because we can go to a tourist area, like today, where Japanese and American citizens are wandering around probably one of the most fierce battle sites of World War II, and yet today it’s a peaceful, beautiful area,” said Lim.