Major William Braxton on the island of ie shima

The Best WW2 War Story Ever Told about the Geckos on Okinawa, The Gecko is the Friendly Lizards.  Where are Geckos from?

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This is the best WW2 Story that I have ever heard and it's about Geckos and not War. On Okinawa they're called Geckoes,  The Geico Gecko was the right choice for their mascot because the Gecko is truly the friendly and helpful agent.  These Gecko lizards are the friendly lizards.  Where are geckos from, the friendly lizzards.
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A True Story about WW2 Geckos, Friendly Lizards

Jeff, I thought you would be interested in this correspondence.

Every time I see that "Geico"  Insurance commercial on TV I am reminded of days past.  This "Geico"  lizard that is walking upright and talking in the commercial is a spitting image of the lizards we encountered on the Island of Okinawa during WW2.   Just like in the commercial these lizards had four legs with a rounded head and a tail and they were everywhere. Of course I never saw them walking upright and they never talked to us.  Ha!    I found out from a person who has recently been to Okinawa that they are called Geckoes. These little creatures seemed to like us and they would even crawl into our fox holes to visit us.  We didn't mind seeing them because they would eat the big flies that were everywhere and bothering us. I suppose because of all the death on the island the flies were big and terribly bloated. The Geckoes ate so many of these flies they pooped everywhere including in our holes but even this was better than putting up with those terribly bloated flies. We had learned not to swat the flies and I'm sure you can reason why we didn't.  They were especially pesky when we were eating.  There were also big flying cockroaches on the Island and the Geckoes had a little trouble trying to eat these things but I have seen them accomplish it.  I must admitBob Shackles and his wife Norma in 2009, WW2 Veteran  we did greet them with [hello little buddy] and talk to the little fellas but they never uttered a word.  If talking to these little guys causes you to think maybe we had almost lost it I would not argue with that assessment. 


July 2009,  Norma and I are at one of John and Cyndy's stage production sitting on front row seats waiting for the curtains to open. This was a 2 1/2 hour production with a 15 minute intermission. The tickets were sold out and it was a great performance that featured  talented singers, musicals, comedy, and dancers.

Wow! Everything he said is sooo TRUE!  There are sooo many Gecko's on Okinawa!  We have tons running around our house... at first it freaked us out, but everyone we talked to explained it was GOOD to have them in your house because A) They're considered good luck... and B) Because they eat all the pesky cockroaches and spiders that also inhabit our home.  In the classroom at school, it's not unusual to have one running among the lights.  The kids freak out, but we just explain to them why it's good to have them in there.  In the summer time, every time I sit in my chair outside... I have one run up my leg, or out from under the chair.  They also like to hang out in our grill, so when it comes time to take the cover off I stay back and let Andy yank it off really fast.  HAHA!

  Thanks for sharing the story, I love hearing about life on Okinawa during WW2.  Ever since we went on the WW2 tour, the stories and such make much more sense!  During the tour we got to explore the underground tunnels, Hacksaw ridge, the Battle of Okinawa museum with lot's of artifacts from the war, and we also went down to "Peace Prayer Park".... it has hundreds of large plaques with the names of the Americans and Japanese lost in the war.  A very moving experience.  Mom got to go on the tour as well, and she enjoyed hearing about and SEEING the history that lies on the island. They told us a statistic that they are STILL, to this day, removing 1,000 TONS of ammunition and unexploded bombs from the island EVERYDAY.  I find that remarkable.  It was such a down pouring of bombs after bombs after bombs for weeks and weeks, that 50 years later they're still trying to clear the ammunition from the ground.  Anyway, hope all is well!  Thanks for the Christmas card!  We just got it... mail has been RIDICULOUSLY slow... but at least it finally got here! =)  Love you guys so much and miss you!
Love, Dy

From: Robert Shackles
Sent: Wed, June 1, 2011 11:51:29 AM
Subject: Ie Shima
Ross you may be interested in this because your dad may have seen this too. It was sometime during the latter part of May and I was on Okinawa. During a lul in the fighting I had a clear view of Ie Shima. One of the shore Duckas [Ducks] was Heading from Okinawa to Ie Shima with something when the Japs came over Okinawa on a bombing attack. One of the Jap planes noticed the American Duck heading for Ie Shima and started strafing it. That Duck was whirling around in circles and that Jap never hit it.  I bet when the guys on that little Duck got to shore they had to wash their shorts in the ocean. Ha! Really not funny but  one of those once in a lifetime experiences. I bet that Jap was frustrated when he called off the attack. It had been raining tons but I remember the ocean was very calm and it was a beautiful warm slightly overcast day when this happened.
I have often thought about those guys on that Duck. I wonder if they all survived that conflict?
Sent: Thursday, June 02, 2011 3:27 PM
To: Robert Shackles
Subject: Re: Ie Shima
That's a great story, Bob, though undoubtedly quite painful for the participants. I never heard my Dad tell it, and unfortunately, he's not here to ask. Somewhere I recall a story of several GIs heading over to Minna Shima on a raft from Ie, getting stuck there, and having to spend the night. They returned safely to Ie Shima the next day, but much of the military had been out looking for them.
When I took my Mom to Ie Shima in 2002, we were both struck by the beauty of the place. Very colorful sea and sky, and plenty of warm sunlight. Obviously, none of thsat came through the few black and white photos we'd seen from 1945. In fact, we took separate rooms at the YYY Club, near Ie's east end on the south shore, and Mom slept out on her balcony at night, saying it more closely resembled Dad's experience.
To: Robert Shackles
Ross, after the rainy season was over and the mud dried up you and your mother are describing the way I remember Okinawa during the day. During the night when we were hunkered down in our holes we could always hear the rumble of distant artillery as other units were engaged with the enemy and we could hear the distant roar of the engines as the B-17s and B-29s were coming in for a landing or taking off on a mission over Japan. The night sky was peaceful and beautiful with all the bright stars, and the light balmy ocean breeze was delightful. We were usually two in a hole and one slept as the other stood guard. Thanks for the memories. I’m happy that you and your mom were able to visit Ie Shima. I’m sorry Ross I did not know your father is no longer living. You and your mother have my heart felt sympathy. Sadly old father time has depleted the ranks of WW2 veterans and at our age those of us living realize there is a constant roll call and in the near future we will all be history. We are passing the baton to a younger generation and our prayer is they can preserve their freedoms and live in peace.   God Bless America!
Happy Trails

VJ day as you know was August 14, 1945 and I was aboard ship on this day heading back to the States. The Captain of the ship announced the Japanese surrender over the ships intercom system. We were not surprised because we were told victory was only a few day away when we were being sent home. We were still uneasy during our trip home because we did not believe all the Japanese submarines that were out looking for us had received their surrender orders yet. The Captain also told us that he had his orders to prepare for the invasion of Japan but the orders were suddenly put on hold until he was ordered to leave Okinawa and return to the States.

 We were extremely happy with this announcement because none of us felt we would survive the invasion. We were thankful for those atomic bombs that ended the bloodshed. Yes, it's reported that 180 thousand Japanese civilians died as a result of dropping the bombs but the War Department also reports that 200 thousand civilians and soldiers died in the three month battle at Okinawa and I have no problem with those figures. Because of my experience fighting at Okinawa I ask only that people think how many of us, and how many Japanese civilians would have died during the invasion of Japan where the Japanese people [civilians and military] were willing to die defending their homeland. The only people I here condemning America for dropping the bombs are the Japanese and those Americans who were not fighting to defend our home front and our way of life, but who today [both Americans & Japanese] are able to enjoy their freedom to condemn us without mentioning the facts about what could have been. Click below

Great video of a Spontaneous Victory Parade in Honolulu in 1945. Take a look at this video-absolutely fabulous! Notice the cars and jeeps, youth. The guys in khaki or gray shirts and black ties are Navy officers or chiefs. The rest are Army or Marine. How young they all were to do what they did. This guy really captured a moment in history! (You can listen to Jimmy Durante singing "I'll be Seeing You" in the background, too) This is a super video of a time past - we need to remember and be THANKFUL. Check out the color fidelity. It's not bad for 1945. Nothing will ever compare with Kodachrome film.

VJ Day, Honolulu Hawaii, August 14, 1945 from Richard Sullivan on Vimeo.

65 Years Ago my Dad shot this film along Kalakaua Ave. in Waikiki capturing spontaneous celebrations that broke out upon first hearing news of the Japanese surrender.

Read more WW2 stories from Bob Shackles Here.



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