Three Marines were killed and one wounded when their four-man patrol was ambushed and cut down by Jap snipers in the Asan Point area of the island Saturday afternoon [December 8, 1945]. The patrol, which was headed by 2nd Lt. Ray W. Atchinson, USMCR, had been sent out to investigate reported gun fire and disturbances by Japanese soldiers still hiding out in the jungles of Guam.
All four men had volunteered for the assignment and were fully experienced in the work of flushing Japs out of hiding. By all appearances, they were caught by machine-gun fire.
The dead are: Lt. Atchison, Cpl. Howard W. Price, and Pvt. Herbert E. Ward. Pvt. Robert K. Ross was wounded and is now in Base Hospital 18 where he was pronounced out of danger yesterday. All men were attached to A Company, 4th M.P. Battalion.
Captain Ward A. Rolfe, USMC company commander, said he had ordered the patrol at the request of Lt. (jg) Robert J. Griffith, fuel officer of NSD Asan Point aviation gasoline farm, who had reported the presence of the Japs behind the tent area of the farm. Lt. Griffith had requested an additional security patrol be placed around the gas farm after Japanese snipers had fired directly at tents of his personnel last Friday.
The four-man Marine patrol, armed with carbines and revolvers, left the gas farm at 1400 Saturday to follow a trail going up to a flat plateau overlooking the area. As they crossed the plateau, they were fired upon by a group of unseen snipers. The three men were instantly killed, while Ross was shot in the thigh.
Ross then crawled to cover, waited a few minutes, and then crawled ahead to where the others had fallen. He was unable to locate them and after a brief search made his way down the hill through the jungle to the village of Piti. He was picked up here by Lt. Don Westover, 2nd M.P. Battalion, who rushed him to the hospital for emergency treatment.
Upon being informed of the incident, Capt. Rolfe immediately established two 8-man patrols led by Guamanian guides. These patrols searched the plateau area until dark, but were unable to locate the three bodies or the Jap snipers.
A large security guard was set around the gas farm, but according Bard Langsdale, MM 1/c petty officer in charge of the farm, the Japs still continued their intermittent sniping that night.
At 2300, a shot came into the station shower room and there was continued firing at random by the Japs until the security guard dispersed them with a steady ten-minute volley.
Lt. Col. William P. Perry, commanding officer of the 4th M.P. Battalion, ordered a 100-man patrol to set out at daylight yesterday to search for the bodies of the Marines. Members of the patrol finally located the three bodies lying side by side in a gulley near the plateau. All of the victims’ clothing and equipment had been taken and the bodies appeared to have been riddled with machine-gun bullets.
The area in which the Japs are still hiding is not far from where the 3rd Marines fought their way ashore in the summer of 1944.
This is the first report of Japanese sniping on Guam since Oct. 22 when a Guamanian was killed five miles outside the village of Inarajan.
Lt. Atchinson, 22, from Birmingham, Ala., was one of five sons, all of whom went into the service as enlisted men and became officers during the war. He attended the University of Alabama for a year, enlisted in the Marines Dec., 1942, and entered the Naval V-12 unit at University of Redlands, Cal., in July, 1943. Atchinson was commissioned on May 9, 1945, and arrived on Guam in September.
Corporal Price, 23, was a native of Nashville, Tenn. He was married and had 57 points but requested to remain on duty with the 4th M.P. for an additional three months. At the time of his death, he was serving as 1st Sgt. For the company.
Private Ward, 23, recently arrived from the States. He was from Corning, Ark.