World War II Vet recounts key battle
by Tom Busselberg
11.13.08 - 08:10 pm

LAYTON — He may not be 86 years young, but Retired Major Grant Cullimore recalls the Battle of Okinawa like it was yesterday.

The longtime Layton and Kaysville resident recounted his experiences in the 82-day battle as keynote speaker for Layton City’s Veterans Day program, Tuesday.

“There were between 12 million and 14 million Americans, more than the rest of the world,” involved in fighting in World War II, he said.

Just as with the Great Depression, the war effort meant sacrifice, even for families and friends who stayed at home.

“There were rations on gas, some food, clothing. Everyone sacrificed,” Cullimore told the group of several hundred gathered in the Central Davis Junior High School gymnasium, here.

“We (all young men) were drafted when we turned 18, automatically signed up at the Post Office,” the then Garland, Box Elder County, resident said of the war years.

An average of 3,000 or more World War II veterans are passing away, each month, he told the audience. It included veterans from World War II onward, as well as civics students from Central Davis Junior, as well as some students from E.G. King Elementary School.

“The Battle of Okinawa had three Army and three Marine divisions,” with Cullimore part of the Marines, he said.

“We troops were in the middle of a 1,467 ship armada, including aircraft carriers.

“We were protected. There was nothing but ships. It’s a sight you never forgot. There were about 11,000 (Americans, Allies) killed in the (82 day) operation. It was the last battle of the war,” Cullimore said.

He was a coach at Davis High School for many years, was instrumental in getting a county recreation program organized, and later worked as director of public relations at the Clearfield Job Corps.

Cullimore spoke of some of his fellow military comrades, including Layton’s Jay Dansie, attached to the Army’s 96th Division.

“He is still carrying shrapnel in his back, has to be checked by doctors regularly for that.”

Speaking of the battle, he said,

“When we landed on the beach, we didn’t know where the enemy was. Even with all of our bombing and shelling, instead of meeting them on the beach (as was customary) they (Japanese) weren’t there.”

The island was like an hourglass, and the Army went one way, the Marines took the left fork.

“The Army got hit hard. The Army took it (hard) in both phases, contracted. We (Marines) had to take their place.

“To see fellow soldiers die – that is what war is all about,” Cullimore said.

“I had the chance to get to the front lines. We had tanks moving infantry along side, flame throwers,” he said describing the battle.

Describing what it was like to be “on the run” in constant battle, Cullimore spoke of no showers for weeks, cold rations, being on the ground most of the time in fox holes.

His battalion went from there to Guam, where “we didn’t miss one day in training. We thought we’d be going to Japan, had maps of the beaches, where we would land.

“They said the war would be over in a couple of months, but then they (Americans) dropped the atom bomb, and the war ended.”