James Gann, from Gallatin, MO, joined Company G late in 1943 on Fiji, after completing basic training at Camp Roberts, CA (see Photo #1). and was assigned to the 1st Platoon. He recalled that as the unit landed on Bougainville, they were disoriented by the ground shaking – an all too common earthquake on that volcanic island. Gann was wounded in action on 21 February 1944, but was back with the unit just days later. He received a commendation for his steady, effective rifle fire on 10 March during the battle for Hill 260. During the fighting he suffered a concussion from a nearby explosion. He helped a wounded soldier down the hill, but to this day he does not know if that soldier survived. Soon after the battle, Gann was transferred to wire section of regimental headquarters, due to a special skill that was in high demand – his ability to play the trombone.
Gann survived the conquest of the Philippines and the occupation of Japan, and returned home safely. In 2009, he was awarded his long-overdue Purple Heart and Bronze Star for actions on Bougainville, in a ceremony presided over by Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford (read more here). Gann currently lives in Arizona.
In Photo #2, Gann (far right) stands next to his friend James “June” Edwards (center) who was killed on Leyte, and Carl Fowler (left). This undated photo was taken on Bougainville.