On 29 May, Able Company, Red Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, commanded by South Carolina native Capt Julius Dusenberg, approached to within 800 yards of Shuri Castle. The castle lay within the zone of the 77th Infantry Division, known as the Statue of Liberty Boys. However, GEN Ushijima’s rear guard had stalled the 77 this advance.
Impatient, Maj Gen del Valle ordered Capt Dusenberg to “take that damned place if you can. I’ll make the explanations.” Dusenberg radioed back, “Will do!” Dusenberg’s Marines stormed the stone fortress, quickly dispatching a detachment of Japanese soldiers who had remained behind. Once the casle had been taken, Dusenberg took off his helmet and removed a flag he had been carrying for just such a special occasion. He raised the flag at the highest point of the castle and let loose with a rebel yell. The flag waving overhead was not the Stars and Stripes, but the Confederate Stars and Bars. Most of the Marines joined in the yell, but a disapproving New Englander supposedly remarked, “What does he want now? Should we sing ‘Dixie?’”
MG Andrew Bruce, the commanding general of the 77th Division, protested to the 10th Army that the Marines had stolen his prize. But LTG Buckner only mildly chided Maj Gen del Valle saying, “How can I be sore at him? My father fought under that flag!”
LTG Buckner’s father was the Confederate BG Buckner who had surrendered Fort Donelson to then-BG Ulysses S. Grant in 1862. The Confederate Battle Flag flew only 2 days over Shuri Castle before the Stars and Stripes were formally raised on 31 May. Dusenberg’s flag was first lowered and presented to LTG Buckner as a souvenir. LTG Buckner remarked, “Okay! Now, let’s get on with the war!”
Tragically, on 18 June, just days before Okinawa fell, an enemy shell killed LTG Buckner on Mezido Ridge while he was observing a Marine attack.
Supporting facts may be found in Iving Werstein’s book, Okinawa: The Last Ordeal, Crowell Company. New York, 1968.
From The Civil War Parlor on Tumblr