Medics! Joe just got hit by
one of snipers.” That was the
call that would bring the men with the red crosses all over them, right up into
the thickest part of the fighting. The
razzing they used to take about the targets painted on their helmets wasn’t
funny now. When the aid men started after a patient – like Tec
5 Edward Sell, who was fatally wounded by a sniper while attending a
wounded B Company man – they knew they were subjecting themselves to the
ethics of the Germans. To rely on
those ethics didn’t always leave the men with complete satisfaction,
particularly after Pfc Leo Downing was machine-gunned one afternoon while
attending the wounded. There were
other cases, too. Pfc Walter S.
Wally, who had joined the unit only a few days earlier, was killed in Leipzig by
a sniper. This sniper let the rest
of the company go past and then opened up on the unarmed Medics.
In addition, Pvt Michael George, Tec 5 Stanley Karas, Tec 4 Robert L.
Shew, Pfcs Taras and Modney, and Pvt Phillip F. Roy, all were seriously wounded.
All the Company aid men – too many to name them all here – put their
duty to their fellow soldiers above their own personal safety. It is no wonder that many of these men are wearing the Silver
or Bronze Star Medal for their heroic actions.
bearers, too, came in for their share of hard work. Typical of these were the litter bearers of the 3rd Battalion
Section, under the leadership of Lt Joseph Ginsberg, who often worked 48-hour
shifts or longer. At times, litter
squads were brought forward from Collecting Company B to relieve the exhausted
foursomes. Collecting Co B,
although not part of the Regiment, was always in close support of any movements.
We felt them an essential part of it and can rightfully give them much
credit for their part in the chain of evacuation.
periods of comparative relaxation, something new always happened.
For example, on April 13 (it was Friday, too), 2nd Battalion Aid Station
moved into a newly occupied town to set up its aid station in the bar room of a
large tavern. An hour after moving
in, enemy aircraft were heard overhead, and every .50-caliber opened fire.
One bullet ricocheted; it struck a man from 2nd Battalion Headquarters
Company. With the first call for
Medics, Tec 4 Alvin Bourgeois
grabbed his aid kits and took off on a run to render first aid.
A witness to the accident came running into the aid station, and in an
excited voice, said, “He’s bleeding like hell – blood’s all over the
place!” That was warning enough,
so two technicians prepared the plasma. When
Sgt Bourgeois reached the casualty, he discovered that the man had been carrying
two bottles of red wine. The
ricochet had shattered them to bits. With
the red wine dripping, the man had thought he was hit and had called for help.
After a thorough examination, he wasn’t even scratched!
On the day after
the 2nd Battalion entered Leipzig, Asst Surgeon Lt C.W. Brown was informed that a hospital containing U.S.
and Allied PWs was located in the city. Accompanied
by Chaplain Eichler and S Sgt Lesley Findley, he took off in a jeep to the
hospital, which was two miles beyond the farthest point of advance.
En route to the hospital, he was detained by a roadblock made of trolley
cars jammed across the road and by four German soldiers, whom he took prisoner.
He and his driver were the first invading U.S. soldiers to enter the
hospital. In so doing, they
liberated 101 American and British soldiers and 300 soldiers of other Allied
The hospital was
in very poor condition. The
ambulatory patients were crowded in the second floor, while the bed patients
were kept in the cellar, supposedly as a precautionary measure against air
attacks. The cellar was damp and
cold; that musty odor, signifying poor ventilation, was in evidence. Many of the patients were lying on the floor.
In the meantime, the men of the aid station, under the supervision of
Capt Robert F. Tinkham, 2nd Battalion Surgeon, were gathering a large box of
cigars, cigarettes, matches, candy, wine, etc., for the liberated patients, who
were overjoyed at receiving a can of C or a box of K rations.
This was proof of their dire need of food.
To see the happiness that reflected in their faces made one know that
something great had been accomplished that day.
The course of
events of 1st Battalion Aid Station was as routine as those of any other aid
station. The usual casualties,
movements, tiredness, and strange-but-welcome billets were the overall picture
of any similar group. However, the
unusual is bound to pop up, occasionally humorous, serious, or trivial.
Such an event occurred in Landwehrhagen, Germany.
For most of the men, it was their first experience in combat.
The American casualties had been light, but the Jerries had suffered
heavy losses from the action. The
wounded Krauts came in so fast that the ambulances couldn’t evacuate them
quickly enough. After the sixth
trip, the ambulance was held up in Kassel at 2 o’clock in the morning.
With the transportation gone, the remaining Jerry wounded had to bed down
with the exhausted aid station group. As
Cpl Cal Weiner remarked, “The feeling of sleeping with Jerries by your side
wasn’t pleasant,” but the situation didn’t seen unusual.
Aid is only as good as its surgeon. “He
was the first up front to supervise and treat the wounded; there wasn’t a
thing we wouldn’t do for him.” That
was the compliment paid to Capt Charles C. Dahlberg, 1st Battalion Surgeon, by
the men of his section. That they
meant it was proved by Tec 3 John J. Salazar, who made three trips, under
intense enemy small-arms fire, in one day between the aid station and Capt
Dahlberg, who was in a forward position. His
jeep driver, Pfc Vernal Matheney, evacuated patients from minefields and
battlegrounds day and night. Every
Technician, Company aid man, and litter bearer did his part to make the medical
support in the 1st Battalion the best that was possible.
Tec 4 James
Laverty described an exciting day in the 3rd Battalion Section.
“The order to ‘roll out’ came early on the 8th of April.
Another day of footslogging, most of us thought, as the usual
preparations were made for the grinding march ahead.
Soon after hitting the road, the word was passed down that the day’s
objective was to establish a new bridge over the Werra River, now in our line of
march. The day started bright and
sunny, but upon approaching the site of the bridge, we found it obscured by a
thick fog. The events that followed
that day soon proved the value of this artificial fog, for upon reaching the far
shore, we were faced by towering cliffs from which Kraut snipers and prepared
gun positions could have had a field day. Our
objective reached, together with the uneventful crossing, gave us an uneasy
feeling. Capt Frank B. Hill, 3rd
Battalion Surgeon, soon returned from an inspection of the building assigned for
an aid station and gave crisp orders to get the equipment in.
While in this process, the inevitable occurred.
While ascending the steep concrete stairs, which spiraled up to our aid
station, Tec 3 Frank Bozelka and Tec 5 Harry Watkins, carrying up some of the
heavier equipment, gave vent to a warning that was hardly needed.
Even though a dud, the first shell gave its own traditional screeching
warning. Many mumbled a prayer of
thanks under their breath. Thereafter,
business was conducted on the double.
“As the next
incoming shells were very much alive, all were ordered to safety – some in the
cellar and some lying flat behind the house.
The haven of safety wasn’t for long, however. The call for litter bearers was soon passed up, and No. 1
litter squad picked its way on the double toward the call of distress.
It wasn’t long before the call was repeated, this time answered by
squad No. 2. Meanwhile,
tension mounted, as one of the Heinie shells found the aid station and took off
our front porch with one loud explosion. The
lull that followed enabled us to shuttle the first two casualties across the
river to a rear echelon aid station and safety.
The Jerries were bent on continuing their work on the aid station.
It was now getting too hot for comfort in this building, so another site
was quickly chosen. The station was
moved in with just enough first-aid equipment for emergency treatment.
While sweating it out here, the relieving cry came of, ‘Our TDs (Tank
Destroyers) and tanks are coming. Watch
those so-and-so Krauts run now.’”