JOHN C. POPE
HEAVY MACHINE GUNNER
OCTOBER 19, 1942 – OCTOBER 19, 1945
We were the only ones to see the enemy up close. He was one of the many figures moving about in front of you. He was intent upon killing you. He was brave, well trained, and well armed. You could see the expression on his face as he advanced toward you…. He might shoot as he advanced or he might be intent on pushing his bayonet through your chest. Lots of bullets are flying and your bullet might or might not be the one that killed him. You could see the expression on his face change as he went down. Adrenaline flowed strong in your veins. The noise was deafening. You felt nothing as you shifted to another target….
John C. Pope, a “scrappy type” of teenager from Acworth, Georgia, enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1942. Accompanied by his buddy Jim Rainey, Pope learned his job while sweating in an all-Georgia “Cracker Platoon” at Parris Island, while freezing with D Company at New River, and while lugging a huge .50 caliber machine gun through the boondocks of Camp Pendleton. He fought on Namur, Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima; in every encounter with the enemy, he “shot first as he was trained to do.” And while he came through the war alive and in one piece, very few of his friends could claim the same.
In 2004, at the age of ninety, John Pope set down his memoirs in Angel On My Shoulder. Among his references were his personal photographs, spanning from his first boot leave with Jim Rainey to the battlefields of the Pacific, to dress parades at Camp Maui at the end of the war. Some of his pictures accompanied his text; many others have never been published before now.
Click on an image below to view the gallery.
Stateside: October 1942 – January 1944