In July 1945, the battle of Okinawa took place, leaving over 200,000 dead, among them over one-third of civilians who lived on the island. Okinawans had been forced to commit suicide by the Japanese military or be executed. Lawlessness was rampant on the island and refugees lived in the hills. A month later atomic bombs would fall on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and amid this turmoil the disappearance of three young Marines was barely noticed.
Their names were James D. Robinson (Savannah, Ga.), John M. Smith (Cincinnati), and Isaac Stokes (Chicago). Initially they were listed by military as deserters and then they were declared missing in action. They were all 19 years old.
Many are the military personnel who are lost in battle, and their remains are never recovered and their graves remain unknown. This appeared to be the fate of these three Marines until 1998.
A rugged trail leads through steep, jungle foothills near Nago, Okinawa. The area is now populated by large fruit bats and poisonous snakes, but in 1945 it was used by refugees that were hiding out in the area. They decided to use this well hidden cave to deposit the bodies of three men. It measured 6 feet wide at the entrance and about 50 feet deep.
It appears that the local population were aware of the remains that were in the cave and who they were. The reason for this was that these three men had been killed by local Okinawans with the assistance of two Japanese soldiers who were hiding in the jungle, and this information had been passed on throughout the fifty-plus years they had lain in their secret tomb.
It was said that the three Marines were killed for raping and abusing local Okinawan women. Despite the justification they felt in murdering them the Japanese men who killed them knew they had to get rid of the bodies that during wartime would bring retaliation from the Americans.
The cave they used afterward became known as Kurombo Gama which translates as Cave of the Negroes (all three men were Black). All those who had witnessed the killing of the Marines are long since dead. What was left are just stories retold to later generations who lived in the area.
Kijun Kishimoto was in his late twenties in 1945, and he grew up in the village of Katsuyama. He was not there when the Americans were killed but was aware of the incident.
In 1997, perhaps not wanting to carry the secret to his grave he contacted Setsuko Inafuku a tour guide for Kadena Air Base, who would take hikers to war sites on the island. That year they both searched for the cave but it wasn't until August when a storm blew down a tree that had been hiding the entrance of the cave.
Setsuko reported to a historian at the base the re-discovery of Kurombo Gama and described that the bones were still visible. The bodies were dug up in 1998 but it wasn't until 2000 that they were identified by the Army identification laboratory in Hawaii. After so many years the cause of death could not be determined.
All three men were interred in Arlington National Cemetery.
To this day, the caves continue to surrender the dead - 116 sets of remains were recovered in 1998. Little wonder that Okinawa has the reputation of being very haunted.
Source - StrangeHistory
Stranger Than Fiction Stories by Marlene Pardo Pellicer