Over the last few weeks I’ve been giving you a special preview inside the covers of VOICES OF THE PACIFIC, the new book that I wrote along with New York Times bestselling author Adam Makos.
Today’s story comes from front line machine gunner Dan Lawler, who relates a powerful and poignant story about the first time he encountered civilians while fighting on Okinawa.
There was this one day we were looking for Japs and we came upon a cave. We could hear talking in there, so I took out my pistol and shot three warning shots right over the top of the cave. Nobody came out, so we figured there weren’t any Japs in there. It was undoubtedly just civilians. In Japanese I said, “Come out, we’ll give you food and water.”
Sure enough, a few people slowly came out. About four or five adults, Okinawans. Along with the parents was a little boy, maybe 5 years old, and a little girl, maybe 2 or 3. At first, they were quite a ways a way and very cautious of us.
I motioned for them to come closer, and slowly they did, little by little. Other Marines took care of the adults, but the little girl came closer to me. Her hair was all messed up. She didn’t have any shoes on, and she had blood all over her. As far as I could see, she hadn’t been wounded, but somewhere along the line someone had been shot in close proximity to her, and the blood had spread all over. She was shaking ‘cause she was so scared.
I broke a piece off a candy bar and held it out to her. She wouldn’t eat either end of the bar. I guess the Japs had told stories of us poisoning food, but finally she ate from the middle of the bar.
She was still shaking then, so I picked her up and set her on my knee. That’s when she put her arms around me. Well, I broke right there and started crying.
A captain come along and asked me, “You all right?”
“Yeah, I’m all right,” I said. “But why do these civilians need to be involved?”
“It’s war,” was all he said.
By Adam Makos with Marcus Brotherton
Ask for it at a bookstore near you, or order your copy HERE.
Question: when it comes to the stark realities of war, what do you hope people will always keep in mind?