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Bill Henningsen

  • Bill Henningsen, just 19 years old, poses for a photo on Bougainville. Source: Bill Henningsen Collection.

Bill Henningsen (seen in Photo #1 on Bougainville), from Nebraska, joined Company G on Fiji, 28 November 1943. Despite crackdowns, he was able to keep a colorful and descriptive diary of his experiences on Bougainville in the first part of 1944. On 19 January, he was part of a firefight with Japanese troops, for which he received a commendation. Exactly one week later he was wounded in the leg and had to be carried off. Doctors told him that he was out of the war, less than 2 months after joining the unit.

But the ferocious Japanese counterattack across the Bougainville perimeter in March 1944 changed everything. Henningsen wrote in his diary that “[w]ounded are coming in fast. We lost a lot of men.” He was discharged from the hospital to return to Company G, helping to carry ammunition for the first few days of battle. By 15 March, he was back in the hospital for good, and spent the rest of the war enduring treatment at several military hospitals in the Pacific.