BOUGAINVILLE, Jan. 13 (INS)—The graphic story of Marine Private Henry Gurke of Neche, N.D., who sacrificed his life by falling on a Jap hand grenade to protect a buddy was told today.
In an early morning hour of Nov. 9 , Privates Gurke and Donald G. Probst, Seattle, Wash., were in a foxhole together on the front lines along the Piva Trail when the Japs attacked.
“Gurke had a sub machine gun and Probst had an automatic rifle,” related Second Lieut. Charles W. Flanery, of Dallas, Tex., leader of their platoon. “Both were firing steadily at the Japs who started using hand grenades.
“During a lull in the fighting, Gurke turned to his friend, saying that if the Japs attacked again to keep up the firing and that if a grenade fell into the foxhole he need not worry about it. During subsequent firing a Jap grenade fell at the edge of the foxhole.
“Gurke dropped his weapon and threw his body over the grenade. His action permitted Probst to keep his weapon in operation for it then was badly needed. Gurke had apparently made up his mind to do exactly what he had done because he had told his friend he would protect him. Gurke was a real Marine. They don’t come any braver.”