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Bucky HarringtonCopyright Patriot Ledger Mar 03, 1997

By Maurice F. Reardon

BRAINTREE — Maurice “Bucky” Harrington of Braintree remembers the battle for the island of Okinawa in 1945 during World War II.

The Marine Corps veteran’s most vivid memory was of Okinawan women and children leaping off cliffs to their death out of fear of the Americans. “The Japanese had told the Okinawans that when we invaded the island we would kill all the women and children,” Harrington said.

A native of Dorchester, Harrington served with the 6th Marine Division and had joined the Marines at 18 in 1943, fresh out of Boston Commerce High School. After training at Parris Island, S.C., Harrington shipped overseas and saw combat on Bougainville, “a disease-ridden, Godforsaken island” where he contracted malaria and jaundice.

A member of a Marine Air Defense Battalion, where he served as a 40mm gunner, he recalls using the weapon against pillboxes on Bougainville. Harrington was evacuated to hospitals in the Russell and New Hebrides Islands, and after treatment was returned to his unit. “When the 6th Division was formed on Guadalcanal in October 1944, I was assigned to the 15th Artillery, a 105mm outfit,” he said. “But during the fighting on Okinawa in April 1945, casualties were so heavy that I was reassigned to the 22nd Marines as a rifleman.”

It was during the bitter fighting in the Sugar Loaf Hill area on Okinawa that Harrington and two buddies came under heavy artillery fire. “We were on top of a hill near a cliff at the tip of the island and could see the Okinawan women and children leaping to their death,” he said. “We came under Japanese artillery fire and a close hit blew us off the cliff. The two Marines I was with were both killed but I was fortunate to land in the water and was picked up by a nearby Navy ship.”

After Okinawa was secured, the Marine units that had fought on the island reorganized and re-equipped on Guam and began preparations for the invasion of the Japanese mainland. “Thank God we didn’t have to attack Japan itself. With their fanatical resistance on Okinawa we could imagine the bloodbath that landing on the mainland would be,” Harrington said.

In October 1945 the 6th Division was deployed to Tsingtao, China, and Harrington served there until his return to the United States in January.

Mustered out of the service in January 1946, Harrington worked for the Post Office Department for 30 years before retiring in 1986.

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