Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 5, Number 3, September, 1995 Page: 144
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
Meanwhile, in the Pacific, the Allies were bracing themselves for an assault
on Okinawa, the final stepping stone in the three-years-long climb up an island ladder
from Guadalcanal to Japan. Okinawa was destined to be the last land battle in the Pacific,
as the Japanese surrender following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
made an invasion of the Japanese home islands unnecessary. In fact, the grueling
campaign on Okinawa, involving 100,000 Japanese defenders and widespread use of
the kamakaze suicide planes, may have contributed to President Truman's decision to
use the atomic bombs.
The Okinawa invasion, only 400 miles south of Japan proper, was directed
by Admiral Nimitz, and involved several army and marine divisions. Several Colorado
County area men lost their lives in this battle. Two were attached to the 7th Infantry
(George Huepers and Daniel Christen), one to the 77th Infantry (Adolph Brune, see
Section II), one to the 96th Infantry (Bernard Kubenka), and one to the 1st Marines (Leroy
On March 26, 1945, the 77th Infantry under Andrew Bruce captured Kerama
and Keise Islands. On April Fool's Day, the 1st, 2nd, and 6th Marine Divisions, along with
the 7th and 96th Army Infantry Divisions, landed on the west coast of the island of
Okinawa, ten miles behind the main Japanese defensive line. After the landing, the
marines turned north and rapidly captured most of the island. The army divisions, which
turned south, had a much harder time of it. On April 8, these units reached the main
Japanese defenses along what was called the Naha line. On April 19, three army
divisions launched a major assault along a front that stretched across the whole island.
Resistance was fierce. In the twelve days before they were relieved by the 77th Infantry
and the 1st and 6th Marines, who finished the push south and completed the conquest
of the island, the army advanced only two miles. Two Colorado County men, George
Reinhard Huepers and Daniel Paul Christen, died in this fighting.
PFC George Reinhard Huepers
September 13, 1922 - April 19, 1945
George Reinhard Huepers was born September 13, 1922, the son of Peter
E. and Louise B. Huepers. He grew up in the Wildwood community, and was a member
of the Lutheran church. He had entered the service on November 23, 1942, and gone
overseas in September 1943. In November 1944, with the 7th Army Infantry Division,
Huepers arrived in the Philippines, taking part there in General Douglas MacArthur's
celebrated return to the islands.8
Less than five months later, he participated in the invasion of Okinawa. On
April 14, 1945, just before his division kicked off the assault on the Naha line, he was
wounded. He died from his wounds five or six days later. He was posthumously awarded
the Purple Heart. At the time of his death, a memorial service was held at the Weimar
Evangelical Lutheran Church with Rev. Christian Emigholz, who conducted more than
his share of memorial and burial services in New Bielau and Weimar, officiating. Huepers,
80 Weimar Mercury, May 11, 1945, May 25, 1945.
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 5, Number 3, September, 1995, periodical, September 1995; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151395/m1/36/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed February 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.