By Former ORA President, James White – James White is a WWII Marine Veteran, NRA Instructor, Former ORA President, and Distinguished Marksman. He served the ORA for many years and began the Sharpshooter. This is from the Sharpshooter Archives, July 2003.

On the afternoon of June 7, 1945, my platoon of G Company, 3rd Battalion, 29th Marines had taken a hill on the southern part of Okinawa. Gunnery Sergeant John Quattrone was the platoon leader and I was serving as his runner. “Gunny” was the seventh leader of the 3rd Platoon since the landing on this South Pacific island on April 1, 1945.

The Japs were fighting even harder as we came closer to their home islands. After getting replacements, the 3rd Platoon was now up to 15 men. We were taking some machine gun fire from long range, but had taken no casualties in taking the hill.

The “front line” was a series of strong points,usually atop hills. The valleys were unoccupied during daylight hours except when we were moving through them. When inhabited, it was usually Japs, but sometimes at night by Marines. Often we would be dug in on top of a hill while the Japs would be in a honeycomb of caves inside the hill. The hill we took that day was empty.

A Forward Observer (FO) from the 15th Marines artillery regiment was along with us. With his binoculars, the lieutenant espied three Japs laying side by side on a flat-topped hill off to our left about 600 yards. We knew that if the FO had requested a fire mission and the first slavo had missed, the Japs would be long gone. We had no machine guns with us but did have Browning Automatic Rifles (BARs).

Gunny and I both were armed with carbines and so we borrowed a couple of BARs, neither of which had bipods. Armed with the BARs, we got into prone positions, using loop slings, like on the rifle range. We zeroed the BARs on the forward slope of “Flat Top” out of sight of the Japs but at about the same distance. The FO spotted for us with his binoculars.

The three Japs weren’t visible to the naked eye, but the FO told us how to aim with respect to a bush on Flat Top. We got ready, the FO said, “Go,” and we started shooting. As I recall, I got off three bursts, each of three rounds. I wasn’t familiar with the BAR’s trigger and couldn’t get off two round bursts. The Gunny and I raised a cloud of dust on the top of the hill.

The FO said something like, “Okay, hold it. I can see one Jap still laying there.”

Two days later, a few minutes after I had been shot through both lower legs, I saw Gunny Quattrone get shot through his right side, probably by the same Jap that shot me. The Gunny took off running to the rear and I never saw or heard from him again.

Almost 50 years later, in 1995, at a 6th Marine Division reunion in Orlando, Florida, I met Don Honis. On Okinawa, Don had been in I Company in the same battalion as my G Company.

In one of our conversations, Don mentioned something about “Flat Top” and my ears perked up. I Company had been on our left that day in 1945. When I asked Don if he had been on Flat Top, he said that I Company had taken that hill. I asked him if he had seen a dead Jap on top of the hill. He told me there were three dead Japs and not just one that the FO had been able to spot through his binoculars.

Those three dead Japs might have been officers or they could have been Jap FOs. Either way, the Gunny and I probably saved some Marine lives that day.

US Flag raised over the Shuri Castle on Okinawa. Braving Japanese sniper fire, US Marine Lieutenant Colonel R.P. Ross, Jr. places on American flag on a parapet of Shuri castle on May 29, 1945. The castle is a former enemy stronghold in southern Okinawa in the Ryukyu (Loochoo chain), situated 375 miles from Japan.Source:
Wikipedia / Public Domain