The new book, written by Guy Nasuti, a historian at NHHC, explores the kamikaze attacks that took place during the battle of Okinawa and the impact these attacks had on the sailors who fought during the battle.

During the Battle of Okinawa (1 April–22 June 1945), American sailors confronted their most destructive enemy of the Pacific War: the kamikaze of the Imperial Japanese Special Attack Corps. Over the course of what quickly became the deadliest engagement ever fought by the U.S. Navy, American naval officers and their crews developed new tactics to counter the brutal onslaught of a suicidal enemy whose sole purpose was to demoralize the U.S. fleet and inflict as many casualties as possible. With Japanese hopes for a negotiated peace fading, the nation’s military leaders viewed the kamikaze as their last hope to prevent U.S. forces from reaching the home islands and compelling Japan’s unconditional surrender. Indeed, for the first time in the war, the number of U.S. sailors who perished was greater than the number of American soldiers or Marines who died fighting to secure the island.

Drawing on the accounts of enlisted sailors, this study sheds new light on the desperate struggle off Okinawa and provides fresh insight into the terrifying ordeal of men under the relentless assault of suicide attacks. Ultimately, American sailors’ tenacity and ability to adapt in order to win during World War II should serve as enduring inspiration to those serving in the U.S. Navy today.

“These men were exhausted and angry at the Japanese for killing their friends and hitting their ships”, said Nasuti. “They persevered in all that they did and continued fighting until Japan surrendered.”

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NHHC, located at the Washington Navy Yard, is responsible for preserving, analyzing, and disseminating U.S. naval history and heritage. It provides the knowledge foundation for the Navy by maintaining historically relevant resources and products that reflect the Navy's unique and enduring contributions through our nation's history and supports the fleet by assisting with and delivering professional research, analysis, and interpretive services. NHHC comprises many activities, including the Navy Department Library, the Navy Operational Archives, the Navy art and artifact collections, underwater archeology, Navy histories, ten museums, USS Constitution repair facility, and the historic ship Nautilus. 

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Book cover of "On the Verge of Breaking Down Completely": Surviving the Kamikaze off Okinawa, 1945