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\. . . up with a flame thrower, and the Japs came screaming out. They got them all. This was Pvt. Novak of Minersville, Pa.
Another twenty-two year old enlisted man had spent one year and nine months in the Army, but only five minutes in battle. In that time he was wounded twice. After they got him to the hospital, a Jap bomber came over and dropped ten bombs. The boy, already too badly wounded to move, lay there while shrapnel hurtled through the hospital tent all around him. He told me that nothing he had previously endured could compare with that. Bombee Hulbert, alone of us, can imagine what that kid went through. And then a fragment from the tenth bomb gave the boy his third wound.. He had lost a lot of blood, but he hadn't lost his sense of humour. He told me that his belly was going to look like a jigsaw puzzle, what with an old appendectomy scar and what the Japs had done to it. This boy, Lawrence O'Brien, hailed from Detroit.
A twenty-one year old 2nd Lieutenant lay on his hospital bed talking and smiling. By all the laws that are supposed to govern high explosives, he had no business to be there. He had no business to be anywhere. He should, with the possible exception of a small piece of khaki cloth, have completely disintegrated. But there he lay, alive and happy. And I shouldn't be at all surprised to learn that a general came along one day and pinned a medal on him.
His platoon was ordered into the front line to replace a platoon that had advanced. Then he was ordered to advance still farther, but the position was untenable, and he was ordered to fall back. In doing so, he had to leave behind a corporal with a light machine gun. Facing the corporal and twenty-five yards from him, were three Jap machine guns. The lieutenant reported the fact to his colonel, who said that the man could probably come in after dark. The lieutenant didn't think the corporal would be alive by nightfall; so he asked permission to go out and get him. It was granted, and the lieutenant stuffed hand grenades in his pockets, took a sergeant along with him, and crawled to the right flank of the machine gun position.
A few grenades put one of the Jap guns out of commission. Then the sergeant crawled around to the other flank. The officer called to the corporal to remove the bolt from his piece and be ready to come out. Then the sergeant and the lieutenant shouted and fired to draw the fire of the Japs while the corporal got out of there. And just about then a Jap bullet hit a hand grenade that was in the lieutenant's hip pocket, detonating it. He should have been blown to pieces, but he crawled back to our lines with the sergeant and the corporal. The doctor showed me an X-ray picture of the seat of the lieutenant's pants. There were six or eight fragments of hand grenade embedded in his buttocks, several of them quite large. He was still smiling when I said good-by. And he had plenty to smile about. 2nd Lt. Clarence Lovejoy, 35th Inf., was from Tampa, Fla.
After dinner, there was a meeting of the Noumea Chowder and Marching Club. We initiated Lt. Col. Romlein, who brought a bottle of rum as his initiation fee. Pat Frank, OWI, who had just blown in from Sydney, was welcomed into the game because he said he had $190. And then he won! Also present were Lt. Cols. Hayward, Dert, Skow, Maj. Gates, and OB, who lost about four bucks.
Pat Frank occupied a cot in my room that night. I first met Frank in Honolulu about last October. I was BMTC Officer of Day at Hqs during an Alert -- it was Oct. 10th. Lt. Gaddis, MI, phoned and asked if I would see two men from OWI who wished to interview me. Pat Frank and Leo Hock- . . .
Pacific Theatres of WWII
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