||The "History of the Air War at Sakishima Gunto"
is the true story about the Military action taken by the US and their
Allies against the Japanese Army and Navy who were defending two small
islands in a region of the Ryukyu Islands called Sakishima Gunto in late
1944 and 1945. The two islands, Miyako and Ishigaki Jima with their
five operational airfields were the Japanese launching points for their
Taiwan (Formosa) based Special Forces, known to the Allies as "Kamikazes".
Kamikazes made their final no return flight from these two islands to die
while crashing their airplanes into the American and Allied ships during
the battle at Okinawa.
The USS Shipley Bay and her attached Fishhook
Squadron (VC-97) launched strikes against these airfields. Fredio R.
Samples provides a detailed accounting of those operations including the
tragic loss of VC-97 crew members. On 15 April 1945,
LT.Vernon Tebo, Robert
Tuggle Jr., AOM 1/c and Warren Loyd ARM 1/c were shot over Ishigaki,
captured, tortured and executed. The "Bilingual
Memorial Monument" on Ishigaki Island honors these three servicemen.
On 15 June 1945, Lieutenant (jg) William F. Waters and his FM-2
fighter was hit by anti aircraft fire, burst into flames
and was seen crashing into buildings and trees near a runway on the Ishigaki airfield.