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- Insight Ignites the Eyewitness, Book Two, Rats Patrol - iwojafevazyx.ml
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It was necessary to enter the trenches to reach the Japs. Wilmer Stokes jumped into a trench and crushed a Jap s head with his boots. Then he rushed to the mouth of the cave and filled the cave with liquid fire. When his flame-thrower was exhausted, he climbed out of the trench and watched. Screams of pain came from the cave. But the Jap guns were still firing.
Sergeant Stokes grasped a second flame-thrower. Again he sprang into the trench and spurted its contents into the cave in a flaming horizontal geyser. He did the same thing a third time. Then he tossed the flame-thrower aside. He picked up his sub-machinegun and sprang back into the trench and muscled into the cave, his gun blazing.
So I took a chance and went inside myself. There was a lot of Japs in that cave. They were all dead. They captured the swimmer and brought him to an American officer for questioning. The prisoner said that there were more than a thousand Japanese in the American trap. He also said that the Japanese were willing to surrender—if given a chance.
A mass surrender in battle would he the most freakish event of a freakish kind of war. The American commanders looked around for someone willing to carry a capitulation offer into the Japanese lines. A brave man volunteered. He was a middle-aged guerilla who wore a straw hat and rode astride a skinny pony. He was given a white flag and a message. The message said that the Americans would accept a surrender if the Japanese would emerge without weapons, in single file, and with their hands raised high.
Field glasses traced his progress from the American side. The guerrilla reached the enemy outposts and stopped. He was directed into a large clump of bamboo shielded by a rise of ground. There was a crackling of rifle fire within the Japanese positions. Men settled behind their guns. They saw the rider-less pony gallop out of the bamboo.
There were growls, "The goddamn, murdering. Then, out of the bamboo sauntered the Filipino. He waved his white flag. He retrieved his mount and rode back to the American lines. Just before he reached safety an enemy sentry fired. The shot went wild. The messenger brought word that the Japanese commander asked for more time. The Americans waited an hour.
It was 11 a. They waited until noon.
Policies & Plans
No unarmed men filed out of the grass and bamboo trap. At this point my informant rubbed his chin and grinned. He looked at me out of a weary, yellow young face and his blue eyes shone. Troops took the long, dusty ride to the beach, then were transported to their ships by small boats. The bay was choppy because of the typhoon season in the north, and many men were violently seasick.
Troops were not excited regarding the movement. The general attitude might be described as: He did a job, in his own quaint and peaceful way, that saved many lives and helped to make the launching of the Philippines campaign a thundering success. The Woodcarver is squat. Black curls protrude from under his fatigue cap.
He looks like a wandering Levantine artist and to war he refers as "inglorious trouble. The son of an Italian father and a Tunisian mother, Carmelo was born in Brooklyn, but his family moved to Casablanca, Africa, before he was three years old, where he grew up speaking Spanish, French, Italian and Arabic, but not a word of English. His early living he earned as a carpenter in North African harbor towns. He disliked the drudgery of hard labor. They told me that I could make things, and more things can be shaped out of wood than fences. My hands like the feel of clay.
I swore I should become a woodcarver, a sculptor! He modeled in clay, then finished his work in wood. At the urging of an aunt he came to America. For five days, broke and hungry, he searched for his aunt. He could not find her. What should he do? On March 5, , he joined the Army of the United States as a volunteer. He was assigned to the 24th Division and fought as a machine-gunner in the leprous wilderness of New Guinea, unhappily but well. And then came the day on which the Twenty-Fourth was ordered to tighten its belt for the biggest operation in its history. The destination was "Top Secret.
With the rest, Carmelo asked, "Where are we going? In the regiments, the battalions, the companies, in the platoons and squads men struck their tents and packed. They checked their weapons and hauled ammunition. Ended were the sweat-stained weeks of waiting, of mopping up the jungles, of digging drainage ditches and standing guard. The men shouted and were alert.
They folded their cots and helped the cooks pack pots and pans, and in huge bonfires they burned the refuse that accumulates where masses of men have camped for weeks. The roadsides were lined with barracks bags; the men had stripped themselves to mess-kit, spoon, jungle knife, poncho, razor, rations, a shovel and their weapons. Someone chanted, "Nobody loves New Guinea. Day and night the trucks rumbled to the beaches. The roadstead was so crammed with ships that at night their anchor lights looked like the lights of some vast coastal city.
And with the sound of motors rumbling in his ears, Carmelo saw officers pore over maps, heard them discuss their lack of knowledge of the terrain to be captured on "A"-Day. Private Giacomazzo approached a staff officer. A model map that shows the hills, the valleys— everything. The officers telephoned the Division. More trucks rumbled down to the edge of Humboldt Bay, more jeeps and tractors and guns in an endless stream.
Tools of war crammed the wide-mawed landing ships. And the colonels capitulated to the private. There were some old maps at hand, not very accurate contour maps. And there were the aerial photographs. Could Private Giacomazzo read photomaps? And so, after he had rendered an oath of silence, it came about that the Woodcarver from Africa was entrusted with the secret of shore points selected for the American landings in the Philippines.
From somewhere Carmelo procured a bag of plaster of Paris. Paint he bagged from a team of combat engineers— blue for the streams, brown for the hilltops, green for the plantations and the swamps and the jungle-covered slopes. He fashioned a replica of now famous Red Beach. He studied the photographs the officers had given him and what he saw there he put on the map, trails and barrios, a coastal highway, a river, bridges, plantations and rice fields.
He ate and lived and rested with his work. He worked with minute care and with pride. A mistake, he knew, might cost the lives of fellow soldiers. And then after five days and nights, he surveyed his work, checked, re-checked, and packed away his tools. The general called his staff. They studied the relief. Then other officers came and studied it. And after that, the officers called the sergeants of the assault groups. They still studied it aboard ship as the Division s convoy steamed northwest.
The Japs on the beach of San Pedro Bay, Leyte, saw a lone American landing craft skirt the sands less than two hundred yards offshore. But the lone visitor continued as if nothing was amiss, its steel ramp jutting like an insolently thrust-up lower lip. Through a megaphone a Japanese voice roared a single word: The patrolling craft continued, poking about, turning and retracing its course. That was in the early afternoon of October 19, Japanese machineguns barked at the unwonted stranger.
There followed the sullen thump of mortars firing. Soon artillery joined in punching geysers out of the sunlit sea. With bullets striking a rapid tattoo against its rust-streaked side the patrol craft zigzagged in almost waggish unconcern. Its machinegun spat lead into the fine gray sand. But despite the near-misses of sporadic shellfire, the boat refused to leave the inshore reaches of San Pedro Bay. Aboard the foolhardy cockleshell the helmeted man seemed satisfied. Roof of Escanaba, Michigan, derived a mirthless joy from his role of target for Jap gunners.
For in the water, between the landing craft and the shore, men were swimming, probing for underwater obstacles and mines. The bold swimmers were scouts, the stripped and silent pathfinders for the mechanized amphibious assault. The apparent suicidal impossibility of their mission made it a success.
And after two hours of it the spy-boat maneuvered between the shore and the swimmers, picked them up, streaked for the offing, its rear end chugging gas in the direction of the baffled hunters. Our naval barrage started at , 20 October, The sea was smooth and a brilliant sun beat down. The expected air attacks failed to materialize. All assault waves crossed the Line of Departure on schedule. Dive-bombers delivered a final blow at the defenses just before the landing craft hit the beach.
The Division landed with two regiments abreast on a yard front. The 19th Infantry was on the south, and the 34th Infantry on the north. It soon became apparent that the naval and air bombardment had not been completely effective. Not exactly, but scared, anyway. You stumble around in the jam-packed hold and get into your clothes. Then you head for the chow line. The sea is glassy calm and under the stars you see the silhouettes of ships and landing craft as far as the eye can see. Off to port looms an inky shoreline, still miles away.
You eat your breakfast in the heat of the blacked-out hold. Eerie red lights gleam overhead. With zero hour near, new men have little stomach for food. But the old hands are not concerned with zero hour— not yet. They are griping, "Look, the belly-robbing bastards, D-Day and no fresh eggs for breakfast. You brush your teeth and then shove the toilet articles into your pack. You make sure your canteens are full of water and you give your weapons a final check. You have a little trouble finding a good place in which to carry your grenades.
Then you lie back and smoke and rules be damned. You recognize them by their "GI-look. But the battle virgins do. One is looking hard at a picture of his mother. Another is wondering if he will see the stars tomorrow night. She will brush her hair in front of the mirror and know nothing. But most are quiet. Be sure your safety is off when the ramps go down. Dawn is in the offing. You go on deck. The rails are crowded. You have your gear ready to wrap around you and head for shore. Not that you are in any hurry. Through the slow minutes you hear the planes roar toward the beaches.
The big battlewagons add their thunderous voices and you feel strong and elated. You see the planes bombing and strafing over the plantations and the swamps and you see the flame and the smoke. The whole beautiful morning is filled with continuous, rolling thunder.
You see the assault platoons line up on deck and you grab your rifle and go where you belong. Your sergeant is not wasting words. You clamber into your landing craft and you hit the sea. A Jap bomber has sneaked in low from the sea and is heading for the ships. Navy gunners go into action. The Jap sails out of reach of the ack-ack screen and circles the convoy. Signals flutter and the first waves head shoreward. Soon you, too, are on the way. You crouch low between the wall-like sides of your craft. The rocket ships have moved in and the rockets scream shoreward and you wonder aloud, "How in hell can anything stay alive on that beach?
You hear the invisible water foam past the bucking ramps. The assault run is long. There are still a couple of thousand yards to go. You risk a peek at the shore. The beach is full of landing craft and men and motion. Already boats head back carrying the first casualties of the invasion. The first waves get ashore with small loss, but the succeeding waves get it hard.
There is no thought that you might be the next man on the litter. It always seems to happen to somebody else. The coxswain s eyes are narrow slits now; his sunburnt face thrust forward, his hands tight around the spokes of the wheel. Jap artillery is shelling the beach. Jap mortars and beach guns meet the incoming boats. A large landing ship is heading out to sea, smoking from stem to stem. Several craft carrying 19th Regiment assault groups are hit and sunk.
They heave like living things in pain, stern high, and there is a melee of bobbing heads in the water. A direct hit wipes out a whole squad still more than a thousand yards offshore. Cannon Company loses two section leaders, a platoon leader and some of its headquarters personnel. Jap artillery hit four of the larger ships. A liaison officer was blown to smithereens. Three Division Headquarters officers were wounded by a shell that sank their craft under their feet. Another shell blew the Division Quartermaster and his aide dear out of their stateroom.
Sergeant Joe Babinetz of Kingston, Pennsylvania, was riding in a boat when a direct hit smashed the ramp. In a matter of seconds tons of water filled the boat Debris flew high. Wounded men screamed in the wreckage. Men discarded their packs and helmets and dived into the sea. Babinetz, wounded by shrapnel in head and chest, remained aboard. He saw another wounded man threshing in the bottom of the waterlogged craft.
The man was drowning. Babinetz, bleeding fiercely, dived. He yanked the drowning comrade to the surface. He grasped the life jacket, secured it around the wounded man and slipped him overboard to await the rescue patrol. The concussion of three mortar shells striking another landing boat ripped the steel and hurled its occupants through space.
He hit the water, badly shaken, and strove to regain his bearings. He saw the sinking boat. Then he heard someone yelling for help. With a few strokes he reached the sinking craft. There he saw a mangled soldier squirming under water, pinned fast by the wreckage. Russell slipped into the sinking boat He freed the wounded man and dragged him out into dear water. Seconds later the boat sank. Machinegun bullets snarled dose overhead. The water was achurn with undertows and whirlpools created by the rush of shore-bound ships.
Russell struggled for naked life. But he held onto the now unconscious soldier, kept him afloat, dodging the pull from whirling propellers. Through confusion and men adrift in the sea, your boat approaches the beach. There is a noise a few inches from your head as if a gang of shipyard johnnies were belaboring the boats outside with hammers. The keel scrapes sand. There is the jerk you get when a fast-going train stops suddenly. The ramp clatters down and you run out. You wade through hip-deep water. You fan out, away from the others. You dash across the narrow beach. You run as you have never run before.
You run for the cover of coconut palms crippled by the bombardment. You flop down on your belly, not taking time to break your fall with your rifle. Then you see a lower spot nearby, roll into that. You rest a minute. After that you look around with your chin firmly in earth a-crawl with ants. As LST s cram-full of tanks and artillery chum shoreward it is discovered that there are only two slots where the larger landing ships can beach.
It looks as if someone bungled in the planning. But there is hope that more will get in over the shallows at high tide. This hope is false. Out of seven tank-landing ships in the assault, only two make the beach and hang on there by the skin of their ramps. Two others, unable to find a fit landing place, are driven away by shellfire, and three more are cruising angrily offshore and do not make the run until much later.
Battle fate would have it that the landing ships that retired took most of the tanks and artillery with them. The smashed Jap forts and tunnels fronting the beach look like monstrous teeth smashed by some mad dentist. The tops of most palms have been shorn off. You look for dead Japs and find none. You see some of our own dead sprawled in the sand like careless sleepers. Shredded palm fronds litter the waterfront.
Men are milling around the beach; a lot of supplies are piling up, and more come ashore in a violent torrent. You hear much firing but not a shot is aimed at you.
You change your mind when a rifle report that is not yours rings in your ears simultaneously with the strike of a bullet three feet away. You wish you could crawl into the earth like a worm, but what you do is turn your head to find out where that shot came from. You have a powerful urge to dig a foxhole, and that is what you do. The sun is hot and the sniper fire is just as hot, and the machinegun fire makes your belt feel too loose around your hips. You become accustomed to the sniper fire after a while, but not to the digging. Digging a hole while hugging the ground at the same time.
You find that there is water a foot below the surface. You mutter an obscenity and stop digging. You reach for your rifle, crawl a few feet to ground that is a little higher and start looking for a target. The malevolent crashing of mortar shells on the beach makes you wish you were a million miles away. You see one of your own mortar squads land and you see the men rush forward to go into action.
You know the fellows. They sweat under their loads and their faces are distorted as if by great pain. Halfway across the beach a Jap shell explodes. It is a beastly thing to happen in bright sunlight and under a blue sky. It takes the boy more than a minute to die. The squad leader, too, has been hit and the others are clinging to the ground, face down, their mortars useless.
Then you hear a rough voice say, "Come on. Martin of New London, Iowa. A pretty young wife named Bertha is waiting for him ten thousand miles away. He rallies his men by setting an example. They dash after him into the shade of the palms. He points at a group of shell holes with overhead clearance. Three minutes later his mortars are lobbing high explosives onto the maze of Jap pillboxes and spider holes a couple of hundred yards away.
Or take Arthur Kmiecik whom we used to kid about his tongue-breaking name. Twenty minutes after he waded up the beach with his machinegun, his squad was pinned down on open ground by solid bands of lead pouring from a pillbox. Kmiecik is from Milwaukee; he reacted like a bull to a scarlet cloth. Together with another volunteer he picked up his gun, cradled it in his arms like a baby and went straight toward the Jap emplacement.
Then he set down his gun and silenced the Nips at point blank range. Other Japs spotted him and soon mortar shells burst perilously close. Off they went, gunning for the yellow mortar men. Elsewhere things were not going so well. The assault companies of the 34th Infantry had landed yards farther north than planned. And the 19th Infantry Regiment— which had done its first fighting in the Civil War and there earned the name "Rock of Chickamauga"— was also deflected to the north and landed almost on top of the Thirty-Fourth.
As a result the enemy was dangerously strong on our left— or southern— flank. Both were more than a mile to the south and east. Companies of the Thirty-Fourth lay glued to the beach, loth to budge under murderous fire. Here and there a curse, a startled cry arose as bullets shredded combat packs strapped to immobile backs.
Lieutenant Barrow of "Item" Company half rose to his knees, then stood up, pistol in hand. A clean shot through helmet and head. His fellow officers had lost control. The men clawed harder into the sand, and you could hear their bodies groan. Landing with the fifth assault wave were bulldozers and Colonel A. Newman of Clemson, South Carolina. Newman commanded the Thirty-Fourth. The Colonel rose from his crouch. He stood erect, a middle-aged chunk of character that mastered fear.
He walked straight toward the sounds of firing. He waved his companies forward. Get up and get moving. The officers seized the opening to rally their units forward. They tackled five earth-and-palm-log pillboxes along a streambed less than a hundred yards inland. Here, Captain Wai, regimental intelligence officer, was killed. A medical corpsman running to the aid of wounded in a palm grove had his midriff shot away. Their job was to build dirt ramps across a huge tank-trap that hitherto kept vehicles from leaving the beach.
Rhinoceros-like, the bulldozers charged into the palms, their raised blades shielding their drivers. Meanwhile the 19th Infantry assault waves pounded forward in their southern sector of the beachhead. After four hours of fighting one company had progressed five hundred yards inland. The battle moved in a grim patchwork of disorder, with platoons and squads and foolhardy individualists striking out on their own. A soldier cracked and yelled that he was being chased by wolves. One platoon entangled in the fray did not establish contact with its mother team until the following day.
But one after another Jap snipers toppled out of palms like sacks of meal. One after another the Jap emplacements were reduced, their crews destroyed. Private First Class Frank B. Robinson of Downey, California, made himself a one-man platoon. He crawled atop a stubborn pillbox and dropped three grenades through its port. He then reached down and pulled the barrel of the Jap machinegun out of line, burning his hands in the process.
A little farther he came upon a cursing flame-thrower man. The fellow had his weapon aimed at an enemy dugout, but the flame-thrower refused to ignite. Robinson crept to the flank of the dugout, picking up discarded Jap newspapers on the way. He held a match to the paper and threw the burning bundle in front of the dugout. The flame-thrower fired through the flames and the flames ignited its charge and from the dugout came a screech and the smell of burning flesh.
Already Robinson was on his way to another Jap stronghold that had bothered him. Sergeant Beslisle of Headquarters Company, too, met death at this spot. Stone of Watervliet, New York, saw the scout of his squad drop badly wounded thirty yards in front of a Jap fortification. Undaunted, he edged through machinegun and mortar fire and carried his wounded friend to safety. Chester Ledford of Perry, Missouri, saw a company officer lie helpless in fire from two enemy emplacements.
Together with Herman Gendron of Detroit, he dashed into the killing zone and dragged the wounded officer to cover. The fighting moves inland in tortuous eddies. You note by the sun that it is early afternoon. The first self-propelled guns and the first jeeps have cleared the beach to join the pioneering bulldozer men. You watch them go and you feel the sun s heat strike through your helmet in liquid hammer-blows.
You feel it even in the erratic shade of the broken palms. You have become indifferent to things.unellbasis.tk
Insight Ignites the Eyewitness, Book Two, Rats Patrol - iwojafevazyx.ml
You are too numb to feel fear. All you hope is that no mortar shell will tear off your leg and leave you alive. Your canteens are empty. Green coconuts knocked down by the shells are everywhere. You chop off the end of one with your machete and drink the milk. While you drink your eyes fall on some dead. The Japs are twisted shapes with twisted faces.
Most of your own dead lie as if they were asleep. You wonder why that is so, until you see an American whose eyes have burst out of his face. The horror does not halt the little things of life. You pee and you wipe your nose. You grab to feel if that piece of soap you pocketed that morning is still there. A small group of men is wading up from the beach. You pay no attention to them until you see some sweating, bare-torsoed GIs tear away and wriggle hastily into their shirts.
You hear a sergeant bluster, "Button up, button up, " and for a moment you think he is crazy. They cross the tumultuous strip of sand, and then you notice that one of the group, the leader, wears no helmet. He wears a cap and he is smoking a corncob pipe. He walks along as if the nearest Jap snipers were on Saturn instead of in the palm tops a few hundred yards away. You stare, and you realize that you are staring at General Douglas MacArthur. The General is trying to find the Division command post. With him is his Chief of Staff. They stop to ask a sergeant the way. He is too busy to bother with gold braid.
Just then Lieutenant Art Stimson— he of the Texas flag— comes running along the rim of the coconut plantation. He grins a salute and takes the generals in tow. A few yards away you hear a begrimed soldier ask: You figure that he wants to show you MacArthur. But his interest is in a Jap pillbox that has been knocked out twice but insists on coming back to life. It has been treated with grenades, and flame-throwers. A bulldozer completely buried it.
Tough Japs inside it sing Japanese songs. They work like moles to clear the ports, and suddenly their machinegun comes back to life. From a distance you watch the bulldozer approach like the crack of doom. Riflemen cover its progress. Then your squad leader throws a handful of dirt at you to catch your attention, and when you look, he says, "Come on. You see him struggling out of a pillbox full of smoke and you see him arm a grenade by tapping it on his helmet and his eyes are on you.
The Jap lets go his grenade; his face is a pinched grimace and he flops around like a caught fish. You shoot him again, point blank, seven times, and he is still, and you quickly shove a new clip into your receiver. A driver runs by shouting to everybody that Jap bullets have disabled his truck. But some way off Corporal Irwin Duane is still at work and he says nothing. He is the gunner of a self-propelled piece of artillery, an SPM-M8.
He is busy putting his shells into a pillbox, mixing earth, palm logs and Japanese flesh into one hash. Another company commander is killed. The platoons are scattered and lose contact. Captain Louis Berdami of New Orleans stands up and takes charge. His quick thinking saves the whole right flank of the attack from bogging down. But Berdami, too, is killed in action. Sergeant Clifford McGowan of West Concord, Minnesota, sees his company in dire trouble from enemy machinegun nests not far ahead.
He knows that staying there will cost lives. So he crawls forward inches below the trajectory of the bullets. He crawls to within seventy-five yards of the Nip gunners, determines their exact position, then directs his mortars which soon put an end to the nest.
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Baskin of Baltimore sees a Jap in a pillbox take pot shots at his company commander. The officer is unaware of the source of bullets slapping the ground nearby. Baskin runs up to knock out the Jap, is wounded but keeps going. He kills the Jap. The enemy, a first lieutenant, died smiling.
Another stronghold is holding up a whole platoon. Hale of Port Huron, Michigan, wades through a swamp and flanks the enemy position. Fire from his automatic rifle forces the Japs to duck. This enables the platoon to rush in and finish the job, with cold steel. Aid men rush to evacuate him to the ships. He bites his lips, shakes his head, continues to lead his riflemen. The Japs have killed a guy he liked. Blood is squelching from his boot.
But the Japs die. Most of us have no love for first sergeants. We all have cursed them as fat-assed tyrants. Paul, Minnesota, was worth his weight in Samurai swords. A camouflaged machinegun neutralized his assault battalion and Edberg does not like it. He peers around but cannot see the gun. He stands upright and blusters forward until he sees the gun. He then shoulders back, summons a volunteer. Together they carry one of their own machineguns to the threshold of the obstinate bunker.
Scores of rounds ripping through the ports fill the fort s interior with prancing ricochets. The Japs fall silent. Edberg grins a Viking grin. As the fiery sun dipped westward, elements of the Thirty-Fourth attacked across an open swamp. Waist-deep in slime and rottenness the tired men toiled forward, paced by the thumping of their mortars. Red Beach lay more than a thousand yards to their rear. Nearby sprawled clusters of palm and bamboo huts. A few of the huts burned down, but most seemed strangely undamaged by the hail of bullets.
Pigs rummaged there among the reeking stilts, and a lean dog howled. The native inhabitants had fled to the hills. This ghost community was the village of Pawing. This fighting machine ran head-on against unyielding fortifications blocking the beach road. Assaults that day failed to crack the defense. The men were exhausted. Darkness was closing in and the night was streaming with stars. The battalions dug in. Between eruptions of explosives the still air was pregnant with the sibilant voices of mosquitoes and the chirping of myriads of cicadas. The men in their holes chewed cold rations and wondered.
All battalions were there but one: Along the perimeters men harked to the crash and thunder of an artillery barrage. Artillery had landed in force and the batteries filled the evening with the whirr and the moaning of flying steel. Along the perimeters men asked, "What are they firing at? What happened to the First Battalion? The enemy had intended to use this bastion as the key of his entire defense system of the Palo beaches.
The height rises feet directly out of the coastal flats. It has a roughly circular base approximately 1, yards in diameter, with precipitous sides that rise to an abrupt crest resembling a Y-shaped ridge. The Japanese had impressed the entire male population of Palo for three months to fortify this eminence. It was pocked with bunkers. Communication trenches were seven feet deep and tunnels honeycombed the hill.
The definite extent of the Japanese tunnel system on Hill may never be known. Many of the tunnel mouths were blasted in by our men. We do know that Japanese soldiers kept popping out of the hillside for days. Zierath contacted his company commanders. Dallas Dick, a quiet-spoken, slender young man with almost Indian features, had assumed command. A Jap bullet had torn through his shoulder. But despite his wound he was determined that he and no one else should lead "Charlie Company" in the assault upon Hill As matters stood, Hill towered nearly a mile behind the Japanese beach defenses.
The Nineteenth Regiment had been stopped by a powerful roadblock astride the beach road to Palo. The First Battalion could not hope to reach Hill by that direct route. Scouting parties were dispatched to ferret out a back door route to that central rampart which guards the entrance into the strategic Leyte Valley, The scouts threaded through enemy lines in broad daylight.
When they returned they reported that they had found covered roundabout tails leading to Hill The battalion moved out in battle formation, "Able" Company in the lead. The guns of warships in San Pedro Bay, and field artillery freshly landed on Red Beach opened their thunderous voices in a bombardment of Hill Through the stifling afternoon the cannonade continued without cessation.
From the distance the flashes of bursting shells looked like fireflies exploding in a saturnalia of self-destruction. Smoke wallowed over the V-shaped crest. Three men were hit All others struck the ground, sought cover. The following companies stopped in their tacks, dispatched security patrols to guard the flanks. The fire from ahead increased in ferocity.
On a front of one hundred yards them were five Japanese bunkers with walls and roofs of earth and palm logs four feet dank. Zierath made a prompt decision. He left "Able" Company to engage the enemy.
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With "Charlie" Company on the right and "Baker" Company on the left he skirted an expanse of jungle and attacked hill from the northeast. They climbed over cliffs and pushed through thickets that stung their faces and ripped their sweat-drenched fatigues. Their packs had been discarded on the beach. They carried their weapons, bandoleers of ammunition, their water and a few chocolate bars, no more.
On the summit above, artillery still registered with destructive fury. Hill is very steep. Trails up its sides are winding. Fatigued from a long and hectic day the men looked toward the towering crest and clenched their teeth. At times they pulled themselves up bodily by grasping lianas and overhanging roots. Dallas Dick turned around and smiled. Now chemical mortars hurled smoke shells and demolition charges upon the crest. And then there was a sudden, awesome silence.
The barrage had lifted. The assault had reached the upper slopes of Hill The word was passed along the desperately toiling squads. It seemed an insane order. Had they not gone as fast as any able-bodied man could go across such infernal terrain? Had they not worked their lungs and hearts to the breaking point? Herman of South Norwalk, Conn. Speed through these minutes meant all the difference between life and a shallow grave in alien earth. Japs were no supermen. Too pleasant was the memory of the picture-book farms of Japan, of little women waiting to share again their wooden pillows and their mats with their long-absent men.
Zierath and Herman and Dallas Dick were willing to bet ten to one that the barrage had driven the defenders out of their forts to the cover of the far slope. But the artillery barrage had lifted. The task force commanders were willing to bet one hundred to one that at this very moment the foe was racing up the far side of the crest to reman his temporarily abandoned guns.
Dallas Dick winced under the pain of his shoulder wound. God damn it to hell! Look at Lieutenant Barrow! He lived by that concept and he died for his pains. An officer and a gentleman: Those who had fallen on the beach that morning were covered with flies and already stinking in the heat. Speed it up Dallas Dick broke into a forced march pace.
He overtook the advance elements. He passed the point and came abreast of the scouts. The scouts gave him a quick, tough look and called upon their second wind and quickened their already murderous pace. No louey nor any other brass should beat them to the crest of that f hill! A wild elation surged through Dallas Dick. He looked at the heaving backs of his scouts, at the sweat-drenched seats of their pants. The tunnels were silent. They struggled over the last hundred yards, a ragged and drawn-out column rushing upward through an ominous patchwork of lengthening shadows and austere rock formations.
The panorama below them was sweepingly beautiful— the beaches, the purple headlands, a great fleet at anchor, the silvery sea and the distant mountains of Samar. No one gave it a glance. It was welcomed with squalls of lead from two cleverly hidden pillboxes away along the ridge. The men sought the ground and waited. The tropical night swooped in and soon it was too dark for the adjustment of artillery fire.
Dick signaled the scouts to halt. He leaped atop a boulder. Outlined against the evening sky he peered down the far side of Hill He saw swarms of bobbing helmets, a mass of bayoneted rifles in the hands of a mob of Japanese. The Japanese were muscling rapidly toward the crest. Dick and his scouts cupped their hands and shouted to their laboring platoons. They attained the top in twos and threes. Dallas Dick dispersed them into a hasty skirmish line.
Simultaneously the first rifle shots punctuated the stillness of the oncoming night. The Japs, outraced, broke into wrathful howls. While his men fired from behind rocks, from brush-fringed hollows and from the cover of the wind-twisted trunks of trees, Lieutenant Dick stood upright so that the now swiftly arriving remainder of his company could see him, assigning positions, firing all the while to help slow down the enemy advance.
Second Faze Weapons, which was qualification with every military light arms' weapon in use throughout the world at that time, from old, to super modern. Then moved on into the Gulf War.. Thanks to the skills taught to me by the Green Beret's, I never failed; Education: Training, Writing, Blogging and Twitter Website provided by publisher; http: Are you an author?
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