31 May


For a long time after Iwo Jima was declared secure, many Japanese soldiers stayed in the tunnel systems and came out during night-time, hoping to kill a few “Yankee Devils.” The story  of Sergeant Toshihiko Ohno’s single man excursion, during a moonless night, is a somewhat comical example of these raids.

Sergeant Ohno took with him three grenades and headed to a large group of tents. He spotted the largest tent and thought it was the command post, but when he snuck in he found it was a mess hall. At first, it seemed empty except for one mess sergeant sleeping on a cot, snoring very loudly, most likely because of drinking too many torpedo cocktails(alcoholic medicine and pineapple juice). Afraid that he might wake up and stop him, Ohno unpinned a grenade and tossed it under the cot but it didn’t explode. He then tossed his second grenade but it only hissed. At this point, Sergeant Ohno became greatly frustrated and tossed his last grenade under the cot but it was also a dud. 

The grenades were ruined after months of being in damp caves. Sergeant Ohno decided to sneak out of the mess hall and go back to the caves. As he lifted a flap up from the tent, a G.I. going to the latrine spotted him and went after him. The commotion brought more Americans and they caught Sergeant Ohno. Toshihiko Ohno became a prisoner of war till shortly after the surrender of Japan. The mess sergeant was one lucky G.I.

The photo is from Amphibious Epic, United States Marine Corps Historical Monograph, by Lt. Col. Whitman S. Bartley, USMC.

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