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Date: Tuesday, 8 May 1945
Place: Okinawa, Ryukyu Island, Japan
A few yards behind the front lines on Okinawa, fighting men of the US Army's 77th Infantry division listen to radio reports of Germanys surrender on May 8, 1945. Their battle hardened faces indicate the impassiveness with which they received the news of the victory on a far distant front. One minute after this photo was taken, they returned to their combat post, officially however, American forces on Okinawa celebrated the end of the war in Europe by training every ship and shore battery on a Japanese target and firing one shell simultaneously and precisely at midnight! Okinawa is a strategic island in the Ryukyu (Loochoo chain), situated 375 miles from Japan. The Western European GIs were going home; the grim expressions reflect the realization that they still had hard fighting ahead. Both the 77th and 7th Divisions had hard slow fighting in the center of Okinawa. The 77th Division was repelling an attack by the Imperial Japanese Army's 32nd Regiment. The 7th Division was also attacked by the Imperial Japanese Army's 24th Division. By noon of May 5, 1945, there was apprehension at the 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Division, command post, which had not fully appreciated the strength of the infiltration. From a hill near the command post Lt. Col. Albert V. Hard, executive officer, could plainly see several Japanese soldiers 600 yards away on Tanabaru Escarpment. The Japanese were in turn watching American activity. Lying on his stomach, Colonel Hard fired some shots from an M1 at the Japanese to neutralize them. While he was so engaged, a soldier ran up with a radio report that the German armies had surrendered. "Well now," Hard said, "if we just had the Japs off the escarpment we'd be all right, wouldn't we?"