At least we all had
a good sleep. A new man, named Pohto, was assigned to my
foxhole to replace Higgins, who had been killed the day
before. Because it was difficult to go to sleep during
the early watch, Silva and I decided that we would each take
an early watch and leave the third watch to the new man.
Each watch was one hour long. After the second watch, I
awakened Pohto, gave hm my wristwatch and told him to wake
Silva in one hour. I promptly fell asleep.
Pohto stood watch for a short period of time, and he fell
asleep. Since it was his first night of combat, he
apparently didn't realize the importance of guard duty.
He soon learned, for about 5 o'clock in the morning the three
of use were awakened by the sound of machine gun bullets
whizzing over our foxhole and kicking up dirt all around
us. The Japs had infiltrated our perimeter and were
raking the entire area.
10 o'clock in the morning, K Company was alerted to prepare to
move out in force and negotiate a deep ravine and engage the
enemy on the knoll across the ravine. Because of the
fire we had received earlier that morning, the lieutenant
thought it wise to have a couple of scouts out ahead of the
platoon. At first I thouight this was a good idea, until
I discovered that "Chief" Johnson and I were selected to be
the point men. Our mission was to scout several hundred
yards ahead of the company and draw enemy
"Chief" and I started out across a
flat open area and into a tall stand of what appeared to be
sugar cane. This provided some concealment. Suddenly,
the cane field ended and we emerged into a plowed field.
I was about four yards ahead of "Chief" when I suddenly
froze. I was staring down the barrel of a machine gun
that the Japs had set up at the edge of the plowed field in a
clump of bushes. I immediately fell to the ground and
into a furrow. I was fully expecting the gun to open up
on us, but instead saw a hand reach out and drape some foliage
over the exposed barrel. I motioned to "Chief" to crawl
back to the cover of the cane field, which he did without any
urging. I was scared to death, but I knew that I had to
slither back to the cane field and halt the advance of the
Luckily I made it and reported my
find to the Lieutenant. A squad of riflemen then
approached the area I described from the flanks. The
hole where I had seen the enemy was now empty. They had
escaped. I will always believe I saved my buddies from a
sure ambush, which would have been disastrous to many.
We crossed the ravine without any further
incident and engaged the Japs in a brief fire fight.
Among the casualties was my new friend, Pohto. He had
spent less than twenty hours in combat, and had slept more
than half of the time before he was killed.