96th Infantry Division Deadeyes Asssociation

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Lifesaving Ammo Clip
 
   It was a rather nice bright sunny day.   We had been on the island of Leyte about three days and nights after hitting the beach in the initial wave of the landing attack, the morning of October 20, 1944, in troop-carrying amphibious landing craft or LVTs, we called them alligators.

   We had been a very lucky company, landing in a hail of fire, mostly protective fire of our own, just north of the coastal town of Dulag, coincidentally, where the 7th Infantry Division, landed in the face of severe opposition from the Japanese defenders.  Our casualties had been very light through the early going. 

   My memories of the first couple of days in combat seem to settle on the trading of cigarettes to the natives, for coconuts, for which they were very able to climb the very, very tall trees to retrieve, so we could then quench our thirst with the coconut milk.

   Then, on the afternoon of the third day on Leyte, came the order for our platoon to move up on one of the hills which would lead us to Catmon Hill, which was our objective, and ultimate stopping place.

   We climbed to an area from which we could then look down across a draw, and into a thick growth of trees, from which, suddenly, several shots rang, and they were in our direction, as I heard the piercing sound of the .25 caliber slugs whizzing past us.  I went to the prone firing position, and fired three shots back to the position from which I figured the attack had come.

   Almost immediately after firing, I realized that my fatigue shirt was smoking, and I looked at my chest, and saw a couple of small holes in my flesh, which looked like bullet holes.  In the excitement of this turn of events, I dropped my M-1 rifle, got up to my feet, and moved behind a tree to see what kind of a wound I had encountered.

   As I realized that the .25 caliber slug had merely creased one f my ammo clips, which hung in my bandoleer, the lead started flying in on us.  I can still see a lieutenant taking cover behind a tree as did everyone else, under the circumstances.

   I never did get back to the spot where I had been hit, so did not recover my rifle.  The hit on the ammo clip caused one bullet to fire, and the Jap slug made a hole in another of the rounds in that clip. This apparently had been the bullet with my name on it, but the Japs must have spelled my name wrong.  Thank God for that small error.

   I spent the next couple of days down on the beach, getting treatment for the small powder burns, which were the little holes I saw on my chest, and then I was able to pick up a new M-1 rifle and head back to my outfit.