Rescue of Buddy Under Fire
Could I do it again?

 

 In the early morning of April 18, 1945, an Infantry squad of Co. B in the 273rd Inf. Regt. of the 69th Inf. Div. slowly made its way up a city street in Leipzig, Germany.  I was first scout of that squad.  We crossed a schoolyard and came upon a tall fence.  Looking through holes in the fence, we saw several German soldiers coming toward us with stretchers.  My squad sergeant called for them to ďHalt  They kept moving, even though he fired a warning shot over their heads, then they stopped just beyond the fence and picked up several wounded German soldiers.  I marveled at their bravery and wondered what I would have done under similar circumstances.  I would soon find out. 

     As we continued on, suddenly many shots rang out.  In the move from the schoolyard, I had moved out of my correct position as scout and was between the BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) man and his ammo carrier.  The carrier, behind me, fell with a bullet in his heart.  The BAR man, in front of me, jumped up and down in the middle of the street, screaming with pain, a bullet in the large bone of his upper left arm.  I instinctively fell behind a large tree to my right while the rest of the squad took cover on the opposite side of the street.  Bullets ripped all the bark off the tree in front of me.  The sergeant, who was several years older than I, yelled for me to help him get the BAR man out of the line of fire.  I jumped to his aid, and the two of us rolled our buddy into the ditch by the road.   

     Shortly after, the sergeant ordered me to take Adkins, the BAR man, to safety and look for a medic.  I immediately grabbed Adkinsí good arm and started out.  Just as quickly, something foreign found my left eyelid and ripped it apart.  I picked myself up and kept going, with bullets hitting all around.  I made it to the next street, where I found a German army medical office neatly attended by an army doctor and his nurse.  The doctor attended to both of us, stopping the blood flow and applying bandages.   

     After a night in the Battalion Aid Station, I was back with my squad the next morning.  I was told that one of our tanks had been called in to use its big gun to tear down the buildings in front of my squad. 

     A few years ago, I discovered that I had no record of a Purple Heart on my record.  Although my medical record clearly states that I was treated for an injury to my left eye, with eight stitches, the army insists on an eyewitness.  Finding a living eyewitness has been an impossible task.  A green Lieutenant at Ft. Meade checked the wrong box, saying my wound was not combat related.  My reply to this is that, with all the flack and bullets in the air that day, any and all injuries had to be combat related.   

     Perhaps somewhere in the state of Michigan, there is maybe still living an ex-soldier by the name of Adkins, with a Purple Heart, and maybe thankful that I was faithful to my duty and respectful of my sergeantís orders.  Of course, the sergeant would probably have shot me if I hadnít obeyed!  Would I, or could I, do it again?  At that time, YES.  Now, I don't think so.  

     Yesterday, as I stepped into the shower, I saw a little black spider at the edge of the hot water I had turned on.  He was struggling to move away from danger.  I turned off the water and slipped a piece of paper under him and hauled him to safety. 

     Are these two stories related?  Yes, because I can thank my dear mother for instilling in me a deep respect for life.  I will not, purposely, kill any living being.  As I grow older (I am now 80), my love of life deepens.

 

E. P. Haynie, Jr.
2850 Haynies Drive  
Huntington, WV  25704-9136 304-429-1422