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MARK R. HENRY, MIKE CHAPPELL
THE US ARMY IN WORLD WAR II. THE PACIFIC

OKINAWA, 1945

1: BAR gunner, 77th Infantry Division

The BAR - here stripped of all its attachments - provided the basis of the rifle squad's firepower, and was a key player in the bunker-busting teams used in the last year of the war. Dressed in standard late war HBTs, this BAR man also wears the new buckle boots now commonly issued. His helmet shows the 77th Division's 'Lady Liberty' insignia worn on Okinawa; this has been illustrated as a plain white outline, but close-up photos (e.g. one of a company commander, Capt Buckner M.Creel, receiving the Silver Star) show that at least some helmets carried the full yellow-on-blue symbol on the white ground on both sides. Except for camouflage, markings of any kind on helmets in the Pacific were rare, although rank symbols were occasionaly painted on the back. At one time men of the 27th Division also displayed a formation symbol, a white outline parallelogram on the left side of green-and-black camouflaged helmets. Also to be noted here is the elastic helmet band commonly issued in the last year of the war. Metal-framed spectacles with almost oval lenses were standard issue to GIs who needed them.

2: Flamethrower operator, 77th Infantry Division

This combat engineer dressed in late war HBTs wields the M1A1 flamethrower; he needs to use both hands and to brace himself when firing or he might be knocked over by the 'recoil' force of the nitrogen propelling the napalm fuel.

3: Infantry private, US Marine Corps

Marines and GIs fought side by side on Guadalcanal, at Cape Gloucester, on Saipan and Okinawa, and although rivalry was often intense the Army's 77th Division enjoyed an unusually good relationship with the USMC. This 'lost' Marine - at 18-20 years old, about eight or ten years younger than the average 77th Division GI - has been volunteered to join an Army unit for the time being as an assistant to a flamethrower man. The rifle-armed assistant helped protect the laden operator; turned on the fuel and propellant tanks for him when going into combat; and by this date would carry a 5gal jerrycan of napalm fuel to reload the flamethrower.

Items that indicate this man's Marine identity are the standard USMC HBTs - known as utilities or dungarees - with the distinctive 'USMC' and eagle, globe and anchor pocket stencil, the Marines' unique camouflage helmet cover, and the K-bar fighting knife. Marines had no access to buckle boots so this man wears the issue 'rough-out' low quarter boots. In a pocket he should be carrying a 'WP' grenade for throwing in case the lighting mechanism on the flamethrower muzzle fails to ignite the fuel.

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