Iejima


Iejima

Iejima (伊江島) is an island in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan, lying a few kilometers off the Motobu Peninsula of Okinawa Honto. It measures 20 km around and has a population of 5,055. The island constitutes Ie Village and is connected to the Okinawa Motobu-Wan by ferry (also going to Tomari).

but is actually an erosion artifact.

Ie island is the setting of a traditional Okinawan drama where a sad girl by the name of Hando-gwaa fell in love with a man named Kanahi, Ie-shima's headman. When Hando-gwaa learned that Kanahi had already wed she climbed up to Tacchu Mountain and hanged herself with her long, black hair. One can find a statue of this woman in a garden that sits below Gusukuyama.

U.S. journalist Ernie Pyle died there during the Battle of Okinawa in World War II. There is a monument dedicated to his memory on the southern part of the island. Every year on the weekend closest to his death, April 18th, there is a memorial service.

Alternately called "Peanut Island," for its general shape and peanut crop, or "Flower Island," for its abundant flora and more sizeable crop, Ie draws tourists by ferry, especially during late April when the Ie Lily Festival begins.

The Youth Excursion Village accommodates campers for 400 Yen a person and includes access to a good beach. The YYY Resort and Hotel located just east of the ferry port is available for those who do not wish to camp.

Ie Shima as the true starting point for the surrender of Japan

The island of Iejima, also called Ie Shima, was the major starting point for the Surrender of Japan in World War II. It was the home of the 413th Fighter group which was comprised of the 1st, 21st and 34th Fighter Squadrons which were stationed there toward the end of the war.

The actual surrender started with the flight of two Japanese Betty Bombers, painted all white with green crosses on them, to the island of Ie Shima. The Japanese generals ordered the remaining Japanese Air Force to shoot these two bombers down because they believed in the honorable idea that Japan should fight to the very last person.

Instead of flying directly to the island of Ie Shima, these two Betty Bombers flew north east, toward the open ocean, to avoid the Japanese fighters. One of the Japanese delegates aboard the Betty Bombers remarked, after looking through a bullet hole in the side of the plane, that a squadron of fighters was approaching and he thought that their surrender mission had failed. However, the squadron of fighters were United States P-38 Lightnings that were sent to defend the delegation and escort them to the island of Ie Shima.

As the Betty Bombers continued, they were joined by a group of U.S. B-25 Mitchells for their final landing on Ie Shima. One of the Betty Bombers ran off of the runway and broke its landing gear leaving it unable to continue the mission. The Japanese delegation was then transferred to a C-54 and flown to the island of Corrigador in the Philippines so the surrender papers could be signed by General MacArthur.

Ie Shima Today

The United States military maintains a small 'auxiliary landing strip' on Ie; this airstrip is now a military training facility run by the U.S. Marine Corps. There is a detachment of usually less than 20 US Marines which operates the range. The north-west corner of the island that contains a 5000 foot coral runway, a simulated LHA deck, and a drop zone for parachute training.

The three runways that were in use when World War II ended are still exist, however. The eastern one is now abandoned and is used as a thoroughfare for the locals to get from the north to the south side of the island. The middle one is now used by a small civilian air carrier, and the western one is still unimproved and is part of the training range.

External links

* [http://yellowairplane.com/34th/34th_PG41.html The True Story of the Japanese Surrender in WW2]
* [http://yellowairplane.com/Betty_Bombers/A1_Betty_Bomber_Index.html A Closer Look at the Japanese Betty Bombers]
* [http://yellowairplane.com/34th/A1_Fighter_Squadron_index.htm The 34th Fighter Squadron on Ie Shima]

Iejima Airport serves the island.


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