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By Ian V. Hogg

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Michael and the soldier were almost at the ridge’s crest when a bullet passed through Michael’s hand, the wounded man’s shoulder and the rifleman’s chest, killing him instantly and spraying a gout of blood. Michael felt no immediate pain, just a sudden shock, and then numbness as they all fell to the ground. He wondered if this was a bad one. Saipan. The combat infantryman. Harakiri Gulch. Michael dusted his wound with Sulfa powder and pulled his compress out of his first aid kit, holding the package between his wrist and thigh and ripping it open with his unwounded hand.

43 44 pull back, with the company commander last off the ridge and close behind. Once off the ridge the soldiers fell back almost to the morning’s starting point. Company casualties for the day were four dead and 18 wounded, or almost two full-strength rifle squads. The next 17 days went much like the first day: an attack for several hundred yards, met by mortar, artillery and machine gun fire driving soldiers to ground; the elimination of the Japanese bunkers holding them up, or recoiling without success.

This did not seem to matter: if the rumors were true they would act as the Ryukyu Islands garrison, detailed with mopping up. Michael’s company spent the next nine days patrolling the rear areas for bypassed Japanese, capturing some and killing others. There was a lot of talk about a new weapon some of the members of the Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon were carrying. It looked to many like one of Buck Rogers’ ray guns, with a large dish mounted beneath an M2 carbine and a large flashlight on top with a power cable leading to a metal box carried in a backpack.

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