By Sgt. Barret McGurn


SOLOMON ISLANDS—Coconut plantations are often used for military encampments in these islands because there is no jungle undergrowth, there is perfect concealment from the air and there are plenty of palm logs to cover foxholes.

Only drawbacks are the coconuts, hanging like the Sword of Damocles over thousands of GI noggins. There are literally millions of coconuts. Winds and heavy rains knock them down; they fall about 50 feet, so that getting hit by a nut is like stopping a golf ball, only more so.

Surprisingly enough, very few men have been in the way when the nuts came thudding down. One exception is Pvt. Eugene K. Lampkin, an MP from Cincinnati, Ohio.

It happened on one of his worst days. Lampkin was directing traffic near the shore of Empress Augusta Bay on Bougainville, and his heart was seething. A passing truckload of marines had just asked the inevitable and unanswerable “why don’t you join a good outfit?” It was just this unfortunate moment that the coconut above him chose to let go.

“One hit me on the shoulder,” he fumed, “one made a little circle around me, and the third conked me dead center on the head. It’s lucky I had my helmet on.”

37th division bougainville solomon islands

Soldiers of the 37th Infantry Division engaged in heavy fighting on Bougainville.

For More Reading Check Out:

Islands of Destiny: The Solomons Campaign and the Eclipse of the Rising Sun

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