Category Archives: In Uniform

William Y. Boyd II ’44

William Y. Boyd II ’44

William Y. Boyd II ’44

(1926–    )

Army, Technical Sergeant

It occurred to me that in my WWII recollection printed in the Fall 2011 Andover magazine I made no mention of the fact that during the German winter offensive (The Battle of the Bulge) the Rainbow Division’s supporting units had not caught up with its three infantry regiments, and we fought as “Task Force Linden,” General Linden being our assistant division commander. It was under Task Force Linden that my Antitank Company was awarded its Presidential Unit Citation for heroism. I would say we took most of our casualties during that time.

As you may know, an infantry division usually contains 15,000 men, but only 9,000 are infantry, divided into three infantry regiments. Ours were the 222nd, 232nd, and 242nd. I was in the 242nd’s Antitank Company Mine Platoon. The rest of the division was made up of artillery, quartermasters, signals, field hospitals, and other units, which, of course, traveled much more slowly than the infantry regiments, since they did not much care to be shot at. We didn’t like it much either, but that was our job.

Boyd is the author of The Gentle Infantryman, published in 1985.

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Robert H. Traylor ’43

Traylor '43

Robert H. Traylor '43

(1925–    )
Army, Private First Class

This is a story about several months in the Army. It is neither heroic nor tragic but merely an Army SNAFU that happened to me while on duty in 1944.

My request for a few days’ pass in order to get married and have a short honeymoon was denied by the director of the Army Reconditioning Center. Not only that, he said I had been goofing off long enough and would be sent back immediately to active duty. No marriage, no honeymoon, and even I was sort of happy to get out of there.

Several months prior to this event I was reported to the Army hospital in Davis, California, with a temperature of 106. No doctor was on duty at the time, so I was given a bed overnight with the notation that I had sunstroke and should be sent back to duty in the morning. In and out of the hospital over the next few days—still with a temperature but no medical examination—I was startled to learn that my recent sputum test proved that I had Tuberculosis. Still no medical examination, but I was “provisionally discharged” from the Army and put on the waiting list for the TB Sanitarium in Colorado. When I casually notified my mother of my current status she called the Red Cross and asked them to investigate. After a few days an actual Army doctor examined me and said I did not have TB but had Scarlet Fever and needed at least three months’ rest before being sent back to active duty. Somehow I was re-entered into the Army and send to a rehab center in Auburn, California.

I had a pleasurable, lazy several weeks there and met a very nice girl with whom I got well acquainted. After spending quite a bit of time at her home, her mother said I had to marry her daughter immediately or get lost. That was the moment I got moved out of town and back to active duty by the Rehab director. With two years of Army duty remaining and then four years of college, my relationship with the girl in Auburn just faded away.

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Donald R. Berman ’42

Berman '42

Donald R. Berman '42

(1925–2009)
Naval Reserve, Lieutenant

Submitted by his wife, Dorette

My husband credited his excellent education at Andover as the foundation for much of what he accomplished. After graduating from Andover in 1942, he prepared to join the war effort, attending Williams College on the V12 Navy College Training Program. The USNR sent him to Marine Corps Base Quantico, Sam Houston State University, and then to a veterans’ hospital near Boston. As a Lieutenant, he was ordered to active duty in 1945. To his great fortune, the war ended just before he was to sail overseas.

Fifty years later, Don was honored to attend a reunion at the White House along with fellow war-era graduates at the invitation of George W. Bush ’42. As the President was overseas when we arrived, we were greeted graciously by First Lady Barbara Bush and their dog, Millie. We enjoyed specially arranged tours of the capital, then returned to the White House where a helicopter landed on the White House lawn and the President stepped out to greet us.

Don practiced pediatrics in Chelmsford, Mass., for more than 50 years.

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William A. Sutton ’40

Sutton '40

William A. Sutton '40

(1923–    )
Army, Master Sergeant

I joined the U.S. Army Enlisted Reserve Corps shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor and was called to active duty in March 1942. After basic training at Camp Crowder, Mo., and specialized cryptography training at Vint Hill Farms Station, Va., I served in the signal intelligence section of the First U.S. Army Headquarters Company in England, France, Belgium, and Germany, working with codes and ciphers, until V-E Day, May 11, 1945. I was scheduled to join the war in the Pacific after additional signal intelligence training at Arlington Hall, Va., when the war ended with Japan’s surrender in August 1945. I was discharged in September and continued my education at Wesleyan University and Columbia Law School.

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Frank McClain Reinhart ’38

Reinhart '38

Frank McClain Reinhart '38

Second Lieutenant, AUS
Silver Star, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart

From Phillips Academy, Andover in World War II, by Leonard F. James, pages 158–159

Frank McClain Reinhart ’38 is remembered by those who knew him at Andover as a quiet lad of determination and integrity who embraced life with zest and enjoyment. Keenly interested in outdoor activities, he was a leading spirit in the formation of the Ski Team and the Outing Club, serving as Vice President and Secretary of the new organization, and efficient manager of the Varsity Baseball Team and an enthusiastic member of the Advisory Board. His honor standing in scholarship was recognized in his award of the George Xavier McLanahan Memorial Scholarship and his sterling character in the Smith Lewis Multer, Jr. memorial Scholarship awarded to a worthy student of limited means who, in the judgment of the Headmaster, has exhibited promise in scholarship and qualities of leadership and wholesome influence in the general activities of the School.

Shortly before taking his Princeton degree cum laude in the School of Public and International Affairs, he enlisted in the Ski Troops and was sent to the Aleutians. Offered a commission, he preferred to be with the troops as a private because he felt he could not be a good officer without understanding and sharing the life of the ordinary soldier. After a tour of duty in the Aleutians, he was returned to the United Sates to instruct troops in ski warfare. But feeling that he was not doing his share in the war, he transferred to the Air Corps, and again turned down an appointment to Office Candidate School when many Air Corps training units were curtailed. Instead, he applied for immediate service in Europe, and was shipped overseas with the 398th Infantry Regiment. His Bronze Star Medal was awarded for heroic action in France on December 20, 1944.

“Ordered to move his mortar squad to a position within seventy-five yards of the enemy during a determined counter-attack by hostile forces, Sergeant Reinhart proceeded to execute the mission despite the fact that casualties had incapacitated all other members of his squad. Carrying the weapon and ten rounds of ammunition for a distance of three hundred yards, he single-handedly put the gun in action and by accurate delivery of his fire was instrumental in repulsing the attack, although he himself was the target of enemy small arms fire throughout the action.”

Offered a commission in the field, he returned briefly to Paris, then hitch-hiked back to his men for his last battle. On April 7, 1945, outside Odheim, this gallant soldier gave his life for his troops in an action which won him the Silver Star posthumously.

“Engaged on a tank-supported attack on strong enemy positions…Lieutenant Reinhart and his heavy weapons platoon were left in a precarious position fifty yards from the enemy entrenchments when the tanks were forced to withdraw…. Skillfully deploying his men under hostile mortar, artillery and small arms fire, Lieutenant Reinhart directed their withdrawal while continuing to furnish supporting fire for the riflemen until his movements attracted heavy fire which killed him instantly.”

His devotion to duty and ideals will ever remain in the annals of Andover pride and tradition.

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D. Peter McIntyre ’52

MacIntyre '52

D. Peter McIntyre '52

(1932–    )

“OOPS!”
—Adolf, Benito, & Hideki

A MicroRetrospective of “The Last Good War” & Familial Sequelæ
by D. Peter McIntyre ’52

I was an eight-year-old sitting alone in the living room of my four-person immediate family’s first-floor apartment in Eastchester, NY and listening to our tabletop radio on 7 December 1941. Suddenly, John Daly’s resonant voice interrupted regular programming to announce that armed forces of the Empire of Japan had attacked the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor early that Sunday morning. (“Pearl Harbor? Where’s that?”)

Days later the Big Brother squawk-box (containing hidden microphone & speaker) hanging high on the front wall in Miss Charlotte E. Matzka’s Third Grade classroom ordered us all to pour out into the corridor. Only the hall speakers’ wiring was patched into the principal’s office radio, which resembled our model at home. We pupils and teachers stood listening in real time as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt nasally addressed a Joint Session of Congress about “a date which will live in infamy.”

Hitler and Mussolini declared war on the USA shortly thereafter, pitting us and our allies, “the United Nations”, against the three Axis powers. (After the War the antifascist nations yielded this title to the newborn successor to the footling and toothless League of Nations.) My older relatives quickly joined various U.S. Armed Forces serving across the Homeland and in the European and China-Burma-India Theatres of War. Some had near-death experiences, although most eventually came home and transitioned into civilian life as Veterans. But not all.

My father, future PA Parent Douglas L. McIntyre (1901-1994), a teenager during the Great War (World War I, “The War to End All Wars”), was annoyed at being too young to enlist. During the great influenza pandemic his Mt. Vernon, NY high school was turned into an emergency hospital. He volunteered to carry cadavers on a litter down the stairs to an improvised morgue in the basement. As a matter of fairness, the other volunteer and he swapped ends on successive trips, because gravity made dead feet kick the lower guy in the kidneys. And we complain today about lower back pain! By 1941, Douglas was the 40-year-old night commissary superintendent for the New York branch of the Horn & Hardart Automat restaurant chain and wanted to see action this time around.

He joined the Army Air Corps and graduated from Officers Candidate School as a Second Lieutenant. Then he was assigned to run mess halls on bases across various Southwestern States. His applying work simplification and labor-saving techniques reduced Roster KP lists by as much as 80%. Before that, bombardiers had wrecked their sensitive hands in hot water and couldn’t go back to work for three days. Grateful Airmen “promoted” lumber and paint and donated their skilled labor and free time to spruce up the hall. A cartoonist poster-painted illustrations. A photographer printed enlargements of his local mountain shots, reminiscent of the work of Ansel Adams. Morale improved.

Noting that the guys routinely loaded their mess kits with more food than they needed, Lt. McIntyre asked them to take only what they planned to eat and stood beside the garbage barrel giving each wastrel The Evil Eye. Later, an anonymous note in the Suggestions Box read, “The Lieutenant should inspect his garbage before he serves it.” Eventually Douglas was promoted to First Lieutenant and then Captain, ending the War at Bolling Field outside D.C. as Chief, Food Services Division, Headquarters, First Continental Air Forces.

Whoever said that “Family is everything” probably didn’t get euchred out of $4,500 in a business deal by a female relative, as my parents did. One day when she was very old, this lightfingered lady commanded her investments manager, “Move X dollars from my account in Bank ‘A’ into Bank ‘B’.” One of her younger brothers drily observed, “She has finally achieved the ultimate in larceny: she is stealing from herself!”

By contrast, my belovèd Aunty Florrie (Mrs. Florence Mary Caygill McIntyre), a native of England who gave me pointers about playing the piano by ear, headed the family branch which continues to give me Clan McIntyre’s happiest memories from childhood. Aunty Florrie and five of her six kids (whom she had raised as a single mother headquartered near Philadelphia after her husband divorced her to marry a younger woman) were irrepressibly congenial, optimistic, and encouraging. They regarded relatives—even distant ones—as cherished best friends whose company they preferred, given a choice. With seemingly effortless grace, they meticulously carried out the demanding, day-to-day work of nurturing friendships: remembering other people’s interests, likes, and dislikes; tactfully thinking ahead to avoid stepping on emotional sore toes; passing along news of shared interests; and warmly supporting the other person’s pet projects.

One daughter, Isobel, served in the WAVEs and married a Navy man. Florrie’s elder son, Captain Donald K. (an M.D. who interned at Hartford while treating hundreds burned in the terrible circus big top fire which spawned flame-retardant laws for all future canvas tents), and her younger son, 2nd Lieutenant Alan G. (a ticket agent for railroads), became soldiers in the U.S. Army. The “G” stands for Graeme (rhymes with “frame”), a family name on his mother’s side.

Aunty Florrie was the first year’s prizewinning correspondent for THE FAMILY BULLETIN, a 5.5” x 8.5” newsletter I founded, published, and reproduced for up to 40 subscribers on a gelatin-filled Hektograph pan duplicator and later an Old Ditto successor between Fourth and Sixth Grades (1943-45). At Alan’s suggestion, I ran a directory of the APO and FPO addresses of relatives and family friends in the Armed Services to complement his ad requesting “letters, and lots of them.” He wrote, “ …. You’ve no idea how much a letter can mean to a guy when he comes in from four hours of drilling, exercising and running the obstacle course in the afternoon. It helps a lot — just the way the USO says it does. Cause when you listen for your name and it isn’t called, you get a mighty blue feeling.”

At intervals starting when I was seven years old, Alan wrote me newsy and thought-provoking letters. The first missive (postmarked January, 1939 from Theta Xi House at State College, a.k.a. Penn State) addressed my interests in carnivorous animals and plants. It also celebrated the farsighted California rancher who single-handedly saved the chinchilla from extinction and got rich in the process.

In the first of two letters from Infantry Officers Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia in 1943, Alan wrote, “How is school coming along? Right now you’re taking the subjects that are more important any day than those you will take in college. One of the first things they give to the officer candidates when they arrive here … is a simple test in 8th Grade arithmetic, spelling, grammar, and geography. And you would be surprised at how many men had trouble with it. Out of our class of 200 — almost half of them flunked the test. And because of it, unless they prove that they possess outstanding qualities of leadership, they will be busted out of here in the fifth week [of the 13-week course]. In other words, they’re half licked before they start, all because they couldn’t do decimals, fractions and stuff like that there, as Fibber would say. [Alan refers to the star of the weekly A.M. radio comedy serial titled “Fibber McGee and Molly”, notorious for crashing sound effects when Fibber’s wife, Molly, opened his closet door, and an avalanche of clutter fell out.] … I passed the test, by the way. This place is really rugged. West Point has nothing on this….”

Although an avid fan of American jazz who might understandably have devoted his 10-day leave (after graduating and being commissioned on 3 August 1943) to haunting jazz clubs in Philly or New York, Alan invested that precious respite in visiting my mother, sister, me, and other kin.

On the Home Front, Joe Fitzgerald, the amiable maintenance man for our group of apartment buildings, tilled and prepped a plot of land for us to plant and tend as our family’s Victory Garden. After patient watering and weeding, it supplied our table with fresh veggies. Good thing, because we had to deal with red and blue ration stamps to buy meat, sugar, & other groceries.

Although the U.S. domestic gasoline supply was adequate, the federal government’s arbitrary curtailing of fuel was intended to make natural rubber tires last longer. The Japanese war machine conquered the Dutch East Indies, cutting off the United Nations’ supply of latex. Western chemists’ early attempts to invent satisfactory synthetic rubber were disappointing. We kids had to take off our street shoes while playing sports in the elementary school’s auditorium-gym because their synthetic rubber soles left black marks on the floor. Buffing the blemishes off was labor- & time-intensive and, therefore, costly.

Our pediatrician made house calls. As an essential worker, he merited a Gasoline Ration sticker with a reverse cut of the sans-serif, boldface letter “C” on the driver’s wind vane of his car. (Ask one of my fellow dotards what a wind vane was, and did.) This label got him a bigger allotment of gas at the filling station than a mere peasant could demand with the “A“ Mileage Ration sticker. Ration Book #4 carried a picture of a young woman with the patriotic injunction, “KEEP The Home Front Pledge. Pay no more than Ceiling Prices. Pay your points in full.” (Prices and wages were controlled by a new Washington bureaucracy.)

A counselor at my day camp had prominent scar tissue on one shoulder from entry and exit bullet wounds inflicted by a Nazi spy in our neighborhood when the counselor helped police corner the Fifth Columnist. Too close to home for comfort! A German submarine landed eight men in civilian garb on a nearby New Jersey beach to mingle with the local population and sabotage targets of opportunity. All eight were caught quickly, tried, convicted as spies (if captured in uniform, they would have been protected by various Geneva Conventions as Prisoners Of War), and executed.

Middle-aged domestic codgers were left in Home Front jobs after tens of millions of able-bodied men volunteered for (or were drafted into) the U.S. Armed Forces. A typical troll customarily replied to customers’ complaints about the lousy goods or service he provided by snarling, “Doncha know there’s a WAR on?” out of one side of his mouth, as if that justified his arrant snottifications.

My mother, sister, and I got through until VE- Day (Victory in Europe) and VJ-Day (Victory over Japan) without running out of salt print butter, although once we were down to an eighth of a pound.

The powerful dairy lobby rammed through Congress a law forbidding makers of barfy old margarine to color it yellow, like butter. (Surf the ’Net to find the emetic ingredients the French Academy dithered for 30 years to include in early XIXth Century versions of this nauseating spread, intended to put fat into the diets of citizens too poor to buy butter.) I once saw a neighbor’s malleable, clear plastic pouch of pus-white margarine with a separate dot of coloring gel glistering like a navel jewel in the middle. The customer had to punch the dot, rupturing its thin inner membrane, and then knead the mass interminably to distribute the yellow tint evenly throughout.

Once, another first cousin, Lt. j.g. Ted Stouffer, had become a Navy fighter pilot, Aunty Myrt only had to feed herself and Uncle Peeko. So she used her leftover red ration stamps to buy roasts, which she mailed to us from Narberth, PA by Special Delivery. Myrt was a generous and hospitable darling, but her wrapping skills were imperfect. One day our bemused NY Letter Carrier handed my mother a package of fresh beef with paper and string trailing down the corridor. Aunty Myrt happily devoted many hours to volunteering as a Gray Lady in a seersucker uniform at a military hospital, trundling a book-filled lending-library wagon through the wards, encouraging patients, and writing letters home for them.

Ted had a couple of close calls. Before he soloed in a two-cockpit training plane, crewmen lashed a 200# sandbag into the seat behind him to approximate an instructor’s weight. As Ted dove alone, G Forces caused the bag to unship and wrap around the joystick, which was in tandem with his stick in front. It took all the muscle on his 6’ 3” frame to pull out before crashing. Danny Hodges, the son of family friends, wasn’t so lucky. He was killed in a plane crash during a training flight.

Another day one of Ted’s fellow pilots was fooling indoors with a side arm, supposedly unloaded. But it went off. An unsuspected bullet in the chamber grazed Ted’s scalp. A Family Bulletin article for March-April, 1945 quoted Ted’s letter home. “‘Remember what I told you the other day about licking the skipper, Lt. Commander Murphy, in a [practice] dogfight? And how my chest deflated when I found he wasn’t playing anymore [because of sudden mechanical trouble]? Well, my chest is out again. This time I really did lick the skipper. In fact, three times in a row! It doesn’t mean a thing, but it is nice to outmaneuver a man with three DFCs (Distinguished Flying Crosses). What’s more important is that he told me that I am going to be his wing man!’ (ED NOTE: A wing man flies along beside the skipper on missions and is his fighter escort. It takes an excellent flyer to be a wing man, and we are sure that Ted is doing a swell job.)”

With an interest-free, $20 loan from my parents, I bought a sturdy wooden wagon with removable sides and ends. This permitted me to tour our neighborhood collecting scrap metal for bullets, recyclable newspaper bundles, and #10 cans filled with stove grease for nitroglycerine. Then I sold them for pocket change. These coins (plus earnings from my weekend shoe-shining business @ 5¢/pair) enabled me to pay off the loan and to buy War Stamps from our teacher every Friday and paste them into a booklet. When full, each booklet could be swapped for an $18.50 Series “E” War Bond redeemable years later for $25. Unless, of course, the Axis powers won, which came closer to happening than anybody wants to remember.

Among a neighbor’s discarded books hauled home one day on the bed of my wagon, I found a green, hardbound Latin grammar from the early 1880s. I wanted desperately to learn that ancient tongue. But the book was incomprehensible to me: clots of boldface Latin words strung together by tissues of meaningless English gibberish. The Greek tragedy of my early education is that I couldn’t think of a single trustworthy adult with whom to share this passionate curiosity and downright physical yearning. Our upstairs neighbor was the Dean of City College of New York, but it never occurred to me to ask him to teach me this venerable and fecund language, or at least to triage me to a tutor.

In Fifth Grade during WW II, my gray-haired and statuesque teacher (whom I admired and loved) got us kids to move her big desk from the front of the room to the rear. This permitted her to put the peek on what we were stashing in our open-fronted desks, and whether we were passing notes. She habitually carried on a rambling monologue to us all, complaining that the only two men she had loved (her father and her husband) had died and left her defenseless in a hostile world. She used us as listening machines, or unpaid psychoanalysts.

I didn’t learn until decades later that, when a woman complains, she wants a man to identify with her feelings and to validate them. The last thing she wants him to do is to offer practical advice to solve the underlying problem.

Our teacher worked herself into a screaming rage one day and yanked me out of my seat and slapped and punched my 10-year-old body in front of our entire class after insulting my wartime Captain father’s “pots and pans”. The trigger was my respectful, helpful suggestion that she take courses on the side — this in response to her stream-of-consciousness complaint to the class in general about not having a graduate degree, which she identified as being her key to a better-paying high school job. I probably wasn’t the only pupil to wonder, “How important are we mere Fifth Graders to her?” As I silently walked toward the Principal’s office for guidance, she sent big kids thundering down the corridor to carry me back horizontally like a log to our classroom. (The Principal, himself, routinely sneaked up behind us kids as we chatted innocently in line waiting for the bus, grabbed a boy by the hair, pulled his head back, and endlessly slapped the boy’s face from behind in front of everybody.) My teacher’s second verbal and physical assault followed. After the Principal’s conference with my mother three days later, I was put back into the same classroom with the same teacher (who had tenure) and spent 5th through 8th Grades with the same kids amid our burning memories of my humiliation. This unresolved, open-ended atrocity destroyed me for life as a student in a classroom setting.

Abused kids pay MICROSCOPIC attention.

Abused kids NEVER forget.

Read the full story.

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Walter J.P. Curley ’40

Curley '40

Walter J.P. Curley '40

(1922–    )
Marine Corps, First Lieutenant

Five autobiographical stories written by Walter J.P. Curley:

1. Black Sand
2. Lieutenant Curley Lunches with Chiang Kai-shek and Madame Chiang
3. Fifth Marine Division Lands on Iwo Jima
4. Iwo Jima: Flushing the Japanese Out of Caves
5. Preparations for the Japanese Surrender in Northern China as Aide-de-Camp to Gen. Arthur Worton

1. Black Sand
At 0430 on February 19 we pulled on our dungarees, piled into the mess for steak and eggs, and went topside to watch the preliminary bombardment of our target. The noise of it filled the ship. There was no talk; everyone had his own thoughts. A scene of force, of power, of vast preparation unfolded. We were awestruck and deafened by the ceaseless explosions and intense drama: dive bombers, strafing, pounding naval gunfire, planes firing rockets, rocket-support ships, and ships, ships, ships—as far as we could see.

Bombing of the beach areas let-up, and at 0930 our first assault waves began, heading in landing craft towards the southwest shore of Iwo Jima. At 1030 my boat team went over the side and down the rope netting to our landing craft. We circled the rendezvous area for an hour, and hit the beach at noon. No insignia of rank was worn by any officers or noncoms. We knew the enemy habitually tried to kill any leaders first. I had three squads; I put Platoon Sergeant Brande in charge of the first two squads, I took the other, plus Caraciola as runner. The landing craft ran up onto the beach at full speed. I jumped off the ramp sideways and fell hard on the wet sand.

We spread out and ran twenty-five yards inland. I knew the point of advance where we were to meet the rest of the command post group on our right flank. After our first short advance, we flattened out on the sand. I looked to see where my other squads were before trying to move forward. The beach was being raked by Japanese sniper and mortar fire. Three sniper shots missed my face and threw sand on my head; another creased the left side of my helmet. I jumped into an existing foxhole, landing on a dead, mangled Japanese soldier. There was no time to be nauseated.

I sent Caraciolo to Brande, pointing out our next point of advance. We moved forward another fifty yards, choking on the smoke, dust, and stench of death. The whispery, momentary shoosh preceding detonation of mortar shells, the crackling automatic-rifle fire, the shouting and screaming and growling machines made the world unreal. There were howls of pain and of fear.

Only yards further on, we came to the designated meeting place with Captain Detchon and his team, the mission being to set up the command post. I sent a squad to the edge of Airfield No. 1, another to the right flank, and the third to the left, while the deputy battalion commander, Major Ayrault, and Detchon reconnoitered the chosen position. I had planned on being further in, but heavy fire forced us to stay put: there was no choice. A runner came from the squad on the edge of the airstrip to tell me of casualties in the company. It wrenched my gut. I pulled that squad back to begin digging in, still virtually on the beach.

At 1600 we received a major mortar barrage, and just lay in shell holes, listening, praying, and cursing. The snipers, deadly and invisible, never stopped. When dark came we got into our newly dug foxholes. During the first night hellish mortar and machine-gun fire came at us from Mount Suribachi, five hundred yards off our left flank, the highest point on the island. While digging my foxhole I got hit in the foot by a shard of shrapnel. It pierced the shoe leather, only bruising my ankle. I was exhausted but sleepless. I could hear comrades being slaughtered by the storm of lead and iron. Yells of anguish and fury.

The situation remained bad the next day. We continued to be pinned down on the beach, but started to improve our positions by digging deeper. I sent two squads to hunt snipers in the late morning. The Japanese threw a major bombardment at our position; casualties were heavy. I was dug in immediately in front of some of our tanks and an ammunition dump that the enemy was trying to knock out. They blasted the tanks and finally got the dump. I could not leave my hole because of a sniper in a wrecked plane twenty yards away. I lay waiting for the next shell. We could not move; our landing group was being decimated in the open by mortars and artillery. The mostly invisible enemy was contesting every inch of ground.

The second night the Japs let loose another sustained mortar and artillery bombardment. Shells landed constantly ten yards or less from our foxholes. Elliott Detchon, in a hole near me, shouted into the din and asked if I was as scared as he was. I replied that I was praying like a goddamn saint. A voice from another hole—I thought it was Zimmerman—yelled that he did not know any fucking prayers.

Were we merely expendable creatures? Are we humans? Are we alive or am I dead and in hell? Where are we? I felt profound hatred, and a need to satisfy it. How? When? The war had become a personal affair.

The enemy shelling stopped at 0200 and ours started: naval gunfire, light artillery, planes strafing and shooting rockets—a ceaseless, deafening cacophony of explosion. The Japanese shelled and strafed our landing barges and nearby ships. I saw two of our planes shot down into the sea near us. Evacuation of the wounded to hospital ships had already started. I got some sleep that night.

On February 21 our company continued to be pinned down on the beach; we tried to build the C.P. and improve our own holes. The job of digging out the dead around us had begun. We set up a peripheral defense around the position and waited again. A report came from Intelligence that two prisoners were being brought in: my real job had just started. I took a detail of men and constructed a temporary POW stockade. There was word of more casualties in our company. Terrible news. We waited for the prisoners, who never arrived. That evening we were pounded by another bombardment, and soaked by a bone-chilling rain.

The next day we received the first prisoners: a corporal, wounded in both legs, and prisoner no. 2, burned by a flame-thrower—both in hideous condition. D-2 came to interrogate them. I talked to the prisoners about their wounds and their personal feelings, not successfully. There were more shells and sniper fire that night.

Prisoners no. 1 and 2 were evacuated to hospital ships. On the morning of the fifth day we received Prisoner no. 3, who had slight shrapnel wounds. I talked to him briefly; he was PFC Gunta Murasaka. Another of our planes was shot down, and we got our first air raid. Prisoner no. 4 arrived in the late afternoon—an old sailor who had not eaten in ten days and had had no water for three days. I could not figure out what a sailor was doing there. He was very sick and could not speak. We evacuated him immediately, but he died later.

The area around Airfield No. l being fairly well cleared out, we moved forward to set up a permanent POW stockade in the new location. It had three large pens, two guard pillboxes, and my “sandbag” office. The signal company gave me a field telephone.

On February 24, at around 1000 hours, as we continued to improve the new stockade, a Jap sniper in an abandoned pillbox almost got me—an extremely close call. Three hand grenades dumped into his cement box by a flanking unit eliminated the problem. Prisoner no. 5 was brought in at noon. He also was too feeble to speak and was evacuated immediately. I had some chats with Murasaka, an easygoing sort who looked much older than his thirty-nine years. He had three children, had been a truck driver, lived in Kyushu, and was fed up with the war. He made a cigarette holder for me out of a piece of wood from an ammo box. Murasaka asked me about my tattoo. He thought I had gotten it in China because of the snake and skull. He wondered how long American tattoos last. Another air raid that night kept us hunkered down.

By the end of the first week we had reinforced the stockade. I had more long talks with Murasaka. A Jap sniper dressed in Marine dungarees was killed in our area by some motor transport men. D-2 asked Murasaka if he could talk some of his buddies out of the caves in the hills north of us. He agreed to try.

The stench from the piles of Marine and Jap dead was sickening. Murasaka spoke over the loudspeaker to the ones who were holed up. The only answers were hand grenades and machine-gun fire. We retired to the stockade. The Navy planes, naval gunfire, and our Twenty-eighth Regiment then blasted the hill and later captured it. As a reward for helping us, I had our company barber (and bazooka man) cut Murasaka’s hair.

Prisoner no. #6 had gangrene in his arm and leg. We evacuated him after D-2 had questioned him. POW #7 was too wounded to talk and was also evacuated immediately. The Seabees had landed and were working on Airstrip No. 1.

The enemy, just north and west, unleashed a new and tremendous artillery bombardment. They seemed to prefer nighttime. They hit another ammunition dump close by; we were being rocked by our own detonated shells, plus theirs. My teeth chattered all night. In the new area, I was sharing a double foxhole with Tech Sergeant Volpe from our M.P. company headquarters. The hole held two giant oil drums, four feet underground and reinforced with sand bags; the Japanese had vacated it only two days before. I was sure that Volpe had battle fatigue/shell shock: he jumped at any sound and looked haunted. There were others, in my own platoon, whom I was worried about on that score.

Five more POWs were brought in—Koreans attached to a Japanese labor battalion, who had functioned as unarmed workers. They were pleased to be our prisoners and out of the jurisdiction of Nippon, they said. All were young, healthy and cooperative. Several of our Fifth Division doctors came to examine and interview them about the diseases and sickness on the island. The Koreans were willing to tell us anything of importance. I put them to work around the stockade, building and securing the area. The Japanese and Koreans were kept in different pens. One afternoon, while interrogating the Koreans, I had a happy surprise visit from my Yale roomie Al Hilton, who was with a Third Division signal company located 700 yards from us. He asked me if I had heard from Shirley Temple. One of the prisoners from Seoul said Al and I looked like brothers.

My right arm was hurting like hell at night, only when I lay flat. I could not figure out why.

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