Friday, November 13, 2015

General Kuribayashi must have died a very tormented soul.

Today is my birthday and I feel like writing a piece on someone I consider to be interesting.

Of all of the officers that served in WW2 on either side the man I consider the one I would like to share an evening over dinner and drinks with is General Tadamichi Kuribayashi.

The more I read about the man the more interesting he gets.

For those that don't know who he was, he was the commanding officer that led the Japanese troops during the battle of Iwo Jima.

I know that I wll likely anger a few people by saying this but nobody really won that battle. Nobody wins a battle like that. There are no winners and losers in a case like that. There are only survivors.

The Americans merely prevailed and paid the price that the Japanese asked for in terms of lives. The Americans only prevailed by sending enough Marines into the meat grinder until they prevailed by sheer force of numbers.

It was the single battle in Marine Corps history where the Marines took more casuaties than they dished out to the enemy.

If one takes a look at the papers of Tadimichi Kuribayashi you find he was a soldier, a thinker, a family man and a compassionate yet demanding commander.

His notes, especially the notes to his family show a lot about the man. He spent a total of five years away from his family on the North American continent. Three years in the States, and two years in Canada.

The fascinating part is that he learned to actually like and respect us big nosed big footed Americans in spite of our clumsy ways.

He probably figured out that Americans were nothing more than a motley collection of people that had been kicked out of any other decent place to live. However, he was probably too tactful to say it even though it's probably pretty true.

He took time to meet and listen to just about everyone he encountered from high ranking military officers down to the kid that delivered his morning paper. He actually took the paper boy in one morning and gave him something to eat as he figured the kid was hungry. While the kid was there he likely listened to what he had to say.

There are not a whole lot of people that would be interested in the life and times of the paper boy, but Tadimichi Kuriayashi was.

While he did attend classes at Harvard he made time to get out and explore they country. He knew there was likely more to the United States than the classrooms of New England and the offices of military officers. Most likely his curiosity of our ways interested him.

Japanese officers of the time were issued automobile transportation along with drivers. They were not expected to drive themselves around. However, by the time Kuribayishi got to the States he saw how mobile our society was even back then.

He found a couple of American officers and got them to teach him how to drive. He then bought an automobile and decided to explore the heartland of the United States.

He noted the industrial centers like Detroit and realized their potential and knew that it would only take a phone call to turn the plants making cars and machinery into huge factories producing military equipment. 

Personally I think that in addition to this he knew that a country with the motto 'Anything for a buck' was capable of turning marshland into shipyards overnight. I have seen some of these shipyards and to this day many of the buildings are still standing and taken over for peaceful purposes.

Still, I can't help think that one simple event made him do some serious thinking.

Cars were pretty primitive back then and sure enough, Kuribayashi got himself a flat tire out in the middle of nowhere. He didn't have the first clue on how to change it.

Along came a pretty little teenaged farm girl that changed it for him and sent him on his way. He wrote about her briefly and commented in so many words that if a young farm girl was capable of maintaining an automobile there was no telling what the rest of the population was like. I think this stayed with him.

An important thing about him, too, was that he was really a family man and did the best he could even in his absence to try and be a good father. I have read some of the letters he sent home and he would draw sketches and describe his adventures in the States. He was concerned over schoolwork. He also sent home  an advertising picture of the Chevrolet he bought. What a thoughtful dad!

I would imagine that 8 December, 1941 was not a very good day for him as he was an outspoken officer that was against going to war with the United States. It is likely he knew that that particular move was the beginning of the end of the Japanese Empire.

He was not alone. Admiral Yamamoto was against going to war with the United States also.

As a the Chief of Field Staff of the Japanese 23rd Army he was stationed in Hong Kong. During that assignment he often visited wounded soldiers in field hospitals, something officers of his stature almost never did.

His stationing to Iwo Jima most likely was out of spite. He wanted a negotiated peace and was probably seen as a defeatist by Tojo who ordered him there.

He must have known from the beginning that he was sent there to die. Yet he was a good soldier and good soldiers obey orders. He arrived there and immediately started setting up defenses.

He knew he could never hold the island but knew the American character. He hoped that if he could run the American casualty count  up that maybe the United States would accept a negotiated peace.

Truth is, when all was over with and the smoke cleared he had done quite a remarkable job of inflicting casualties on the US Marine Corps.

There is some mystery regarding the death of Kuribayashi and personally I believe that he died during the final attack that was made after the island was supposedly secured.

On 26 March, 1945 I believe Kuribayachi personally led the attack on Air Corps ground crews and leftover Marines. I believe he was dressed in the uniform of a private to provide anonimity when he died as he knew he was going to. I do not believe he commetted ritual seppuku as he had ordered his people not to run banzai attacks on American forces. He considered this as being a waste of lives.

This is one guy I wish I could sit down and talk with. He strikes me as being very interesting.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY


  1. I guess the argument that we won the battle would be based on the fact that we created an airfield that saved many returning B29 planes and crews.

  2. Yeah, Everette. They used that as a justification but when you think about it the numbers were probably played with to justify it to the American people.

    while most Japanese officers didn't really like or respect Americans I believe Kuribayashi actually did. If you read up on him you will find him to be quite an interesting man.