On March 8, 1965, the first U.S. combat troops landed in Da Nang, South Vietnam. Their arrival significantly escalated American intervention in the war which, by its end a decade later, left more than 1 million dead and countless others suffering from the legacy of post-traumatic stress disorder, unexploded ordnance and Agent Orange.
As the world remembers the 50th anniversary of this landing, it is often forgotten from where those initial troops were dispatched: Okinawa.
Okinawa was the Pentagon's prime launchpad for the conflict, and the war in Southeast Asia wrought massive changes on the lives of its 900,000 residents. Many of the island's current problems date back to this era and, if the history of the Vietnam War on Okinawa continues to be ignored, the island's wounds — in many ways as raw as those in southeast Asia and the U.S. — will continue to fester long into the future.