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One Lone Gook - Chris Sarno Memoir

Having survived that moment of truth, Johns was serving as a loader on A-41 on the day that they sighted a lone gook. Heretofore, it had been an uneventful day on the front line. There was no incoming. "It was like a boring day at the office," Sarno recalled. "Same old stuff. I shifted down to the base of the hill and sure enough, I spotted one gook about 2500 yards away. One lone gook in a beautiful, clean, brown uniform. I decided to follow him with my sighting equipment while he was taking a stroll." He was in sight, then behind foliage, then back in sight again. Suddenly, he disappeared completely into a black spot. Sarno had Johns load a white phosphorus round in the 90mm, and Tank A-41 fired at the black spot. "I waited for the report," recalled Sarno, "but nothing happened. I thought it was a dud because at first I didnít see an explosion. Then, sure enough, out of the blackness of this cave came the billowing white clouds of the willie peter. To ensure that they did a thorough job finishing off their enemy, the Marine tankers loaded a high explosive round in the 90mm and fired it at the same spot. "The whole side of the hill came down in a landslide and sealed that cave," Sarno said. "I laughed, because I was sniping with a 90mm." Johns was his firing buddy during this assault.

A look into gunner's seat and the breech block of the powerful 90mm armor
(Click Picture for a Larger View)

Just before Sarno rotated home, he gave Johns a treat. He allowed him to take over in the gunnerís seat and fixed a target for him. The fact that Johns wore eyeglasses was a clue that he was not an enlistee in the Marine Corps. His vision was so poor that the crosses on the gun sight that bracketed the target were blurry to him. Nevertheless, Sarno told him that all he had to do was squeeze the trigger and he would blow up the entrenchment that Sarno had targeted for him. "He did," Sarno recalled, "and he smiled. He didnít kill a gook, but he was shooting at the enemy anyway."


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