WWII veteran returns to Okinawa after 61 years


Staff Sergeant Jesse Harper popped into the fourth Marine Regimental Corps ball recently much more peacefully than he did the first time in the battle for Okinawa which was 61 years ago time surely flies.

Jesse said it was really great to be invited as the guest of honour.

He enjoyed telling them all how proud he was to have gone to Okinawa and did what was his duty.

I for one am very glad he and the many thousands of Americans did this in WW11 more so when I think back and recall they helped save our lives in wartime Britain.

I was just a schoolboy then and had been bombed out of home twice.

I notice he joined the USMC in June 1944 when our streets were overrun with convoys awaiting D Day.

It’s my belief that serving in the Pacific theatre was much worse than in Europe.

My own Father was in that theatre of war.

Jesse was born in Oklahoma and his war record is very impressive first up was the Solomon Islands where he trained on Rocket launchers

He actually used one of these during the battle for Okinawa his platoon fired many of these rockets in a support operation which included the Sugarloaf Hill battle; in fact over 70,000 were fired phew so many when you think how a battle is fought today.

He reckons that when he stood there recently he hardly recognised the place

I don’t doubt it for one moment considering his platoon bombarded the hell out of it for 14 days.

Jesse did ok after wars end as well it seems not only did he join the USMC Reserves he also graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in education [University of Houston]

He was recalled to active duty for the Korean War landing in Inchon using 60 MM mortars.

He had only been married for just 2 days and reckoned they were the happiest 2 days of his life

After being wounded and patched up he then participated in battles at Wonson, Hamhung, and the Chosin Reservoir.

Jesse joined the Chosin Few in 1990, an organisation of survivors from Chosin Reservoir. He still participates in community projects such as educating Texas A&M students, Texas high school students, and Texas Reserve Officers' Training Corps units about the Korean War; He still seems to have that Military streak in him

He lives in Houston with his wife Billie Jean.

All info from Lance Cpl. Daniel R. Todd, MCB Camp Butler Okinawa Japan with thanks.

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