96th Infantry Division Deadeyes Asssociation

The Point

 

   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.

   At approximately 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 fire.

   "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 Company.

   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.