24 men and a useless lieutenant

Friday, April 26th, 2019

Dunlap had 24 men and a useless lieutenant:

He was not a bad guy; he just did not know anything. In unguarded moments he would even admit it. Had been a lawyer, so when his draft board started looking at him longingly he asked for a commission in the JAG (Judge Advocate General Dep’t.—Army for legal branch) and got it, with a desk which he polished until some unkind son shanghaied him to the South Pacific and eventually he ended in the MP’s because he knew nothing about soldiering whatever. He was a gentle soul and positively no help to me.

I had a corporal, one of the regular MPs, who was OK. Except in air raids. A red alert would drive him into a hole and keep him there, scared as he could be. I never knew a man so allergic to Jap airplanes. Since he was completely unashamed of his fear, no one said or thought anything of it. Had he pretended otherwise, he would have lost all respect from the men.

They ended up directing traffic, which was a surprisingly demanding job:

A man from the Corps HQ came around and gave us a lot of information on territory outside our beat and we had to figure out every outfit we knew of and how far it was to them from us and their nearest town, etc. In a few days we had every outfit listed by branch of service, distance from all towns on maps, and complete traffic information on northern Leyte. When a driver would stop in the road and ask where the 7th Division was, the man on duty would call to one of us to check and we would tell him where both of them were—the 7th Japanese Division and the 7th American Division. Things were fine till a G2 man came around and said we should not have so much information—a Nip might get to see it. So we had to give up our maps and our detailed lists and go on our memories thereafter. Technically, I suppose he was right (personally, my idea was that he was jealous, account of our having more dope than he had).

[...]

As far as I was concerned, a reckless driver was practically a traitor.

[...]

Some QM trucking companies began to bring loads up from Tacloban. I think all of them were colored units, and practically all the drivers were bad, a menace to the road and everything on it. We began to have a lot of wrecks as the result of speeding, sideswiping, meetings at one-way bridges, etc.

Combat MPs ran into the screwiest situations at times

Thursday, April 25th, 2019

Dunlap witnessed some unsanitary practices in the Philippines:

I remember listening to one skirmish for about half an hour one night about 10 o’clock — a Jap woodpecker (light tripod 6.5mm machine gun) would fire a short burst, then an American .50 would answer. This kept up for quite awhile. I never did find out what was going on. Did not try to. A Filipino farmer proudly brought in a Jap one morning, except that he did not bring all the Nip. Just the head. We had to get him to take it out and bury it somewhere without being too rough on his feelings. He was so happy. Combat MPs ran into the screwiest situations at times.

[...]

While here a second typhoon hit and bothered us a little. It was not as violent as the first. That same night we had to go get a Jap, as the 12th Cavalry broke their unsullied record and reported a live Nip. A couple of the boys went back — yes, back — to get him and the three of them returned in time to spend the night holding the orderly room tent down. In the morning we tried to find some clothes for the Jap and a small lieutenant donated a suit of khakis. The Jap had really been captured by some Filipinos and turned in to the cavalry, stripped of everything but a breechcloth. This was our first true Jap as such and we looked him over well. He was valuable — had been a top non-com and in charge of all their vehicles at Tacloban. He was a smart city boy and totally unafraid of us, seeming to know he would not be hurt. Most of the better-class Japanese knew some English but this one had only a few words. We kept him all day and after he was questioned, kept him busy ditching our tents, for by now we lived in them.

[...]

The town of Barugo is rememberable only as the place where the Filipinos did very complete bolo jobs on three Japs they caught. Took them on the beach and blinded them, then amputated everything possible, the heads last. The kids were kicking the heads around in the streets, an unsanitary practice, as they were barefooted.

[...]

There was also a very good blacksmith at Barugo. He later made a lot of souvenir bolos for soldiers which were works of art.

Occlusive dressings can be made from just about any plastic packaging or bag, and tape

Wednesday, April 24th, 2019

Tourniquets have returned to favor after saving lives in Iraq and Afghanistan:

The mass use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) by enemy fighters, and the use of body armor by US troops, meant a wounding pattern which primarily affected the extremities. This is where treatment with a tourniquet is the ideal solution, and why the numbers backing the use of tourniquets are so high.

The wounding patterns in active shooter incidents (ASI) don’t lend themselves to tourniquets:

The Profile of Wounding in Civilian Public Mass Shooting Fatalities is a study published in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery on February 16, 2016.

The study examines 371 wounds from a total number of 139 fatal casualties of 12 separate ASI’s.

Each victim had an average of 2.7 gunshot wounds (GSW) and,

“Overall, 58% of victims had gunshots to the head and chest, and only 20% had extremity wounds. The probable site of fatal wounding was the head or chest in 77% of cases. Only 7% of victims had potentially survivable wounds. The most common site of potentially survivable injury was the chest (89%). No head injury was potentially survivable. There were no deaths due to exsanguination (severe loss of blood) from an extremity (arms and legs).”

The most common preventable way to die from penetrating trauma to the chest is by Tension Pneumothorax:

Tension Pneumothorax develops after a bullet (for our purposes) punctures a lung, allowing air to enter from the wound into the chest cavity, but unable to escape. Over time, air builds up pressure to the point where it begins to restrict blood flow of the heart and other nearby vital arteries.

This can cause what is known as Obstructive Shock. The heart and arteries are unable to function properly due to being compressed or obstructed, in a similar fashion to how a tourniquet works. Additionally, pressure is placed on the injured lung making it unable to stay inflated or function.

[...]

The solution is more chest seals.

A chest seal is what is called an “occlusive dressing.” ‘To occlude’ means ‘to stop, close up or obstruct an opening.’ It refers to any non-porous material (plastic) affixed in place to prevent more air from entering the chest cavity.

While there are of course many professionally manufactured chest seals designed to function as required, occlusive dressings can be made from just about any plastic packaging or bag, and tape.

[...]

After discovering a penetrating wound on the trunk of a patient, “From belly button to collar bone,” the giver of first aid immediately clamps a hand over the wound site to prevent additional air from entering into the chest cavity.

Using their teeth and other hand, or instructing a bystander to do it, the first responder removes the chest seal packaging. The first responder then tells the patient to take a deep breath and exhale. At the end of the exhalation, any blood present on the skin is wiped away and then the sticky side of the chest seal is applied over the wound, ensuring adhesion.

Once the exit wound (if any) is found, the steps are repeated. (Always search for an exit wound. It won’t do your patient any good to have only one hole patched.)

The patient is then placed in the sitting position, or on their affected side (recovery position).

[...]

Many trauma, or “blow out” bags, include a needle decompression kit for treating patients with Tension Pneumothorax. This is only necessary after the condition has worsened to the point where it has become life-threatening. The timely and correct application of a chest seal could prevent the need for needle decompression.

Only the P-38s were allowed in the Philippines

Wednesday, April 24th, 2019

Dunlap was north of Tacloban when the first typhoon hit:

I had managed to build myself a sort of pup tent, and it stayed up for the first half of the big wind, while regular tents were blowing down. No one had bothered to remember that the blamed wind blew one direction for a few hours, then calmed down awhile and finished by blowing the opposite way. My open-ended shelter lasted about two minutes of the second half. Everything was down in the in the morning and between the rain, mud, and wind the war was stalled for everything except the foot soldiers out ahead.

[...]

At about the time of the typhoon, a couple of days either way, the first American army planes appeared — Lockheed P-38 “Lightnings.” We were childishly pleased to see them and expected great things. I think there were eight planes at first, but am not sure; more came in almost daily as the engineers ironed out the airstrips. By this time we held two fields, the one at Tacloban and the one at Dulag. I saw a few dog-fights, but never saw a P-38 knocked down. They always flew in pairs, in the system originated by Chennault, one plane always protecting the other which did the actual fighting, or at least made the initial pass or attack. It was our firm belief that only the P-38s were allowed in the Philippines because they were the only American plane that the anti-aircraft gunners could positively recognize as not being Japanese and therefore not shoot them down accidentally on purpose. I don’t know how much truth there was to the rumor, but we never saw a single-engined fighter such as the P-51 or P-47 until the Jap air force was almost driven out of the southern Philippines, and either of the ships was better at dog-fighting than the Lockheed.

Those “forced labor battalions” showed a hell of a lot of fight

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

Japanese pilots were specimens, Dunlap noted — at first:

One of the wounded prisoners in the hospital was a Jap Naval pilot, a warrant officer in rating. He was a pocket Hercules and looked like an ad for a physical culture magazine. Only 21, he had been flying fighter planes for a year and a half, and had started his training at 16. He told us that the Japanese army air force was only spending four months in pilot training, and that the men were no good (the Jap army and navy did not get along very well together). This bird had been around too long and was too smart to act like most of the Japs. Being captured did not bother him at all and he was actually anxious for us to win the war so he could go home. He did not believe much of the propaganda, either Japanese or American, so he did not give us any trouble. The suicide type was either the ignorant soldier or the newer recruits. The smart Nips did not go for it, though they were often forced to go along with their orders.

Prisoners needed protection:

When a prisoner did show up outside the hospital, we had to protect them as well as watch them. All Filipinos and half the G.I.’s were anxious to knock them off. I remember one morning a tall slant who kept grinning idiotically and tapping himself on the chest as he repeated “Taiwan, Taiwan,” meaning he was a Formosan. He even pretended not to understand Japanese. Probably was a Jap peasant who fancied himself a bright boy and did not want to die for the Emperor. Two or three native boys, Filipinos about 14 or 15 years old, were standing watching and carrying on a very polite conversation with me. Finally one asked “Please, sir, you give him to us? We kill.” As if he were asking for a match. I explained that I had signed a receipt for this particular specimen, but that I would be pleased to try and save an odd one for them if he turned up off records.

Both Formosans and Koreans were as bad as the Japanese in ill-treatment of native populations and prisoners of war. Some Filipinos went so far as to say that the Japs were easier to get along with, and the Koreans the worst of all. Which is why a lot of ex-soldiers and ex-prisoners of war will refuse to get worked up about the delay of independence for the noble and oppressed Koreans. Those “forced labor battalions” showed a hell of a lot of fight when the Japs were still riding high. In the Admiralties and and New Guinea they made banzai charges, sometimes with bayonets tied to poles, spear fashion, when they did not have rifles for all.

One fellow caught a 20mm explosive shell in the shoulder

Monday, April 22nd, 2019

I remember a young Marine trying to convince me that a .50-caliber round was so lethal that it would literally rip you apart just passing by. The other extreme seems almost equally implausible, but Dunlap saw it:

The Japs strafed the field a time or two and one fellow caught a 20mm explosive shell in the shoulder. He lived and I believe the arm was saved. Ordinarily a 20mm anywhere in the body is finis.

The Americans totally ignored the whole problem

Sunday, April 21st, 2019

Camouflage played a queer part in the Pacific war, Dunlap concluded:

Queer is the word, because the Japanese used it so much and were so good at it and because we used it so little and were so poor at it, anyway. The Americans totally ignored the whole problem of fooling the enemy observers. I never saw a sign of camouflage attempted anywhere on Leyte, or later, on Luzon.

Blackouts during air raids were the only precautions taken against attack.

One second all was peaceful and the next was one great concussion

Saturday, April 20th, 2019

Dunlap describes his second day at Leyte:

Early in the morning of this second day in the Philippines, Colonel Drake, C.O. of the 5th Cavalry, was killed. Only nine other Americans were lost in this neck of the woods, though about 300 Japs were killed by the time Tacloban was taken.

[...]

The airfield was captured the first day, but proved to be a disappointment. The Japanese had not been using it and had not improved it for use of heavy planes. A lot of work would have to be done before our aircraft could operate effectively from it.

[...]

The 24th did not do so well and suffered from poor leadership at all levels. Traditional cavalry tactics call for movement of course, and the fact that they were dismounted did not deter the troopers in their actions here. They ranged far and fast compared with any previous Pacific operation. The terrain around Tacloban was not too well suited for such movement, but the soldiers were so glad to be out of the heavy jungle and see an occasional stone-surfaced road they moved ahead as fast as they could, clearing the Jap nests out as they advanced. Gains were made in miles, where usually tropical warfare was measured in yards.

[...]

I was examining my water-soaked feet in the last light when the earth stood on end and exploded. One second all was peaceful and the next was one great concussion; we were ringed with 90mm AA guns and they had decided there was a Jap plane overhead and fired simultaneously. Four men dived into a one-man slit-trench and they all fitted.

Third day:

Half an hour after we got there two of my original detachment went up on a nearby hill to look over the Jap diggings and hunt for souvenirs. They found the souvenirs and killed two Nips at the same time. The Japs cut down on them with a light machine gun but missed. Each American soldier had a Springfield and got one apiece. There was a third Jap who got up and ran when the other two died, but a young Filipino with the boys took care of him. The soldiers were taking careful aim when the Filipino asked them not to shoot and took off after the Nip. He caught up with him within 100 yards and made one pass with his bolo. Headless Jap. The Leyte bolo, called a sundang, is a short, bladeheavy weapon, balanced for chopping and edged on one side only. The cutting edge is beveled on one side, that is, one side of the blade is perfectly flat and all the bezel or bevel on the other, like our wood chisels in cross-section. The blade is slightly curved or straight on top edge, with cutting edge deeply curved and handle at a downward angle to top of blade. They come in all sizes, but the average working size is a 12″ to 15″ blade. Handles are of orange root or carabao horn and the wooden scabbards are often highly decorated and skillfully made. This type of instrument is peculiar to the island of Leyte alone and is startlingly similar to the famed Ghurka kukri, though lighter. The Ghurka fighting knives are often very heavy.

[...]

These days became famous as the “raid an hour” period. At first we would start for cover, but the urge to look was too great and always most men were exposing themselves to see what was going on.

[...]

I found a very fine little dugout just a few feet from my makeshift shelter (a Japanese hole and therefore much deeper and better than American!) and always stayed close to it when things looked doubtful. Experience had previously taught me how to figure a plane’s direction when it peels off to dive bomb from fairly low altitudes, so I stayed outside when most of the lads were worrying about strafing.

A few mornings later I saw one of the great running fights. A navy fighter shot down four enemy two-motored bombers in about three minutes and then was shot down himself by our own antiaircraft fire. This was during one of the few mass raids. I do not know how many enemy planes started out, but when I saw them about 10 were left, with American naval planes attacking them. Only two or three reached their objective — the anchored ships offshore — and I believe only one of them lived long enough to complete its suicide dive. It destroyed either a Liberty ship or an LST, I am not sure which, off Red beach. The Japanese made no evasive action but flew in ruler-straight lines for their targets.

Our ackack was so bad it was ruining our morale and becoming a source of jokes. We never saw it bring down anything except our own ships, which trustingly flew low and slow over our own territory.

[...]

We threw up millions of rounds of .50 caliber, 20mm, 40mm and 90mm, to practically no effect that I could see. Beautiful fireworks effect at night, I should say; red, white and green. I became used to the sound of their motors — they really did have a washing-machine sound, too.

[...]

The planes all looked alike — I mean the single motored ones. I was at one spot, busy at something under a tent fly, when I heard some racket and asked one of the boys to take a look. He did and turned back saying that it was a Grumman “Hellcat.” About six seconds later the “Hellcat” came down and strafed hell out of things. Our things. From then on I did my own looking, even if I did not know the aircraft. I knew British and German ships well, and American bombers, but could not remember much about Jap or U.S. small planes.

The beach had a couple of lovely fires, the best of which concerned 3,400 drums of fuel, mostly aviation and truck gasoline. The Nips got the credit for destroying it, though the inside story was that an enthusiastic 20mm gunner on one of the ships in the bay had followed a Zero down the shore line too far and plowed a few shells into the dump. Four of the men who had come ashore with me were burned to death in this particular fire. A couple of others on the beach were tagged by .50 caliber machine gun bullets from the antiaircraft guns ranging too low, also.

A Japanese in a tree killed two of them before he was located and liquidated

Friday, April 19th, 2019

Dunlap’s unit landed at Leyte and didn’t take any damage from the intermittent shelling:

Late in the afternoon of the first day signal men began stringing temporary telephone wire along the beach, connecting the control points, climbing about 20 feet up the boles of coconut palms to attach them. A Japanese in a tree killed two of them before he was located and liquidated. He had been there all day, looking down our necks. I believe he was a lookout, rather than a sniper, for he had chances to shoot at all ranks of officers during the day. I think he was just waiting for nightfall to try to get away and was panicked by the sight of the telephone men climbing the trees.

There had been a number of these tree posts, but we thought we had destroyed them all. The Japs had set up housekeeping in some of the palm tops. Everything imaginable came down when we got bulldozers to bump the trees a few times. Beer bottles, clothes, food, burlap for padding and camouflage, boards for platforms, rope, letters, books, personal junk and other odds and ends were lying around on the ground afterward.

Not all vests are created equal

Thursday, April 18th, 2019

Andy Stumpf has started the tactical @$$hole Instagram account to share photos of tactically unsound equipment and behavior.

I immediately noticed a photo of a Liberian fighter that I had shared a decade ago as an example of gangsta-style assault tactics:

I had found it on James R. Rummel’s site. It looks like he has purged most of his older material. Odd. Anyway, Stumpf has some fun with the material:

The sideways AK is truly an advanced move. If you have ever fired one you will know it has a very powerful and unique brass ejection. With this sideways orientation you can definitely “make it rain.” Accessory selection on the battlefield is also key, and it should be noted that not all vests are created equal. Although this vest will surely save your life in water, it is more of a “shoot at me” flair piece on land. The welding gloves are also a classic pairing.

Digging tools meant life

Thursday, April 18th, 2019

While waiting to make a beachhead landing on Leyte, Dunlap looked up:

I began looking for that cloud of carrier planes to cover the landing. Nothing stirring, but later — a couple of hours after the first landing — one Navy dive-bomber appeared and flew up and down the beach a few times. Of course, it turned out that the Japanese navy was on its way and our warships and carriers had to go out to sea to meet it. The great break for us was that the Japs were asleep at the switch and did not get any of their planes over us in force until 24 hours or more after we were ashore.

[...]

The beach here was ideal for such operations — that was why it was chosen — and we scarcely had to wet our knees going ashore.

[...]

The naval shelling had knocked out the few pillboxes and light weapon emplacements. Quite a few dead Japanese and pieces of Jap were laying around. Did not annoy us, as they were still fresh.

[...]

I had been so worried about keeping my gang together and in control that I had not had time to be scared.

[...]

I relaxed and devoted a few minutes to locating and cutting open green coconuts for drinking purposes. There were enough knocked-down trees to make this easy, and I like coconut milk to drink, as I can get away with it. Most men get a physic effect if they take much of it. The rule was to drink the milk of green coconuts and eat the meat of ripe ones, but my constitution permitted me to make up my own rules.

I had bought a sheath knife from one of the sailors on the way up, and it was to be my constant companion for the rest of my days in the Pacific. A short-bladed affair, of poor steel (I used a file to sharpen it), it had a handle so heavy it was a fair weapon should I ever get that close. Made a wonderful throwing knife. I could throw fairly straight and always used all my strength, in order to be sure of results. I never bothered about it landing point-on — the way I threw, it was effective no matter how it connected. In fact, I preferred it to land butt first in practice, as when I sank the blade three inches or so into a tree it was a lot of work to get it out.

[...]

A couple of the men had trench-knives and two had machetes. All of us were supposed to have these but we did not get them until we later found stocks on the beach and equipped ourselves. Machetes were the most important tool we could get hold of, as with them we could cut bamboo and wood for shelters and shoring up holes. Since none of us had intrenching tools, we had begged 10 or 12 regular full-sized shovels from the armored outfit and the crew of the LSM, for digging-in purposes. Bill Mauldin could undoubtedly have done justice to the picture of some of my characters coming through the water with a rifle in one hand and a full-grown engineer’s shovel in the other. It wasn’t funny then, though, and every guy that came past eyed those tools enviously. We guarded them. Digging tools meant life, more than once.

Nothing interfered with the landing and the main body of the supporting fighting troops began to come in by landing barge from the transports. They would charge off the ramps in the best newsreel manner and find us in front of them, taking life easy on the sand. We would point the right way and tell them the line was over there, three or four minutes’ fast walk, if they wanted to walk fast, and that things were going smooth as silk, etc. My crew envied them and they envied my crew — my gang wanted to get away from the exposed beach and the troopers did not want to move inland against Jap ambushes.

[...]

I was annexed by the beach commander as a messenger, helper and conversationalist.

[...]

I ended up without even a slit trench to park in, so wound a poncho around myself and parked beside a fallen tree. Sure enough, just after dark they started in — weeooweeooweeoo-PLOCK! But the foolish Nips threw everything over the shoreline into the bay, trying to hit the ships anchored there. Duds would have caused casualties on the shore, the way we were piled up. Everything went over, but most of that night I kept waiting for them to shorten the range. Got disgusted about midnight and went to sleep anyway.

Major generals do not usually come around to welcome replacements

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

Dunlap wanted to go to Italy, but “something slipped” and he was suddenly in New Guinea:

The jungle was awesome in spots and to this day I regard the Buna district as the worst fighting terrain in the world.

[...]

New Guinea is very rough country and we were constantly warned of the diseases we could catch from various insects in the kunai grass if we did not keep our leggings on at all times and keep dosed with insect repellents, etc. We religiously obeyed all instructions, not being idiots, but a few months later I was prowling through all kinds of tropical brush with my sleeves rolled up, my pants ending halfway between knee and ankle, my feet in jungle boots cut off at the ankle and no sign of socks, leggings, insect repellent, head nets or other “necessary equipment.” I was not only wide open to any insect onslaught, but I did not give a damn, any more.

[...]

Of all the mountains I have seen, the Owen Stanley range is the most fear-inspiring. They look as though they were designed expressly as a man-trap. For some reason I felt uncomfortable every time I looked at them. I have no desire whatever to see any part of New Guinea again.

[...]

Morale was very high, compared with most of the divisions in the Pacific, and the high percentage of regular army men made it well disciplined, in the sense of the word as applied in its proper meaning. The regular is almost always a pretty quiet, cooperative character. To an inexperienced onlooker, the Cavalry might have seemed to get things bolixed up and trip over its own feet, in a lot of little things, but compared with the rest of the divisions out there it did not vibrate any more than a new electric refrigerator.

[...]

The division commander, Major General Verne D. Mudge, was liked and highly respected. He was one of the very, very few “hard” or strict, garrison officers who was a good fighting leader. Ordinarily the detested inspection-crazed, salute-silly ranker proves a total washout in battle. He cannot relax and adapt himself to the conditions where results mean more than military routine and where Louie, the private who always needed a shave, turns out to be a better man than the deep-voiced sergeant who wore his uniform so well and stood so straight back in the States.

[...]

General Mudge was liked, not only for his good strategy and the fact that he made the plans but for the reason that he usually went up the line to help carry them out. He wore his stars in sight of the Japs more than once. Perhaps from the coldblooded general-staff view it was not intelligent for a valuable leader to risk his neck, but the Cavalry was always proud that its general was no swivel-chair boss back in the rear who sent men out to fight while keeping his hide safe. My own feeling is that the General was right in sticking his neck out once in awhile, for he not only learned what the foxhole private knew but knew but his appearance up where the bullets popped when they passed raised the morale and respect of the whole division enough to write off the risk as paid in full.

[...]

I was not assigned to any specific organization within the division and soon learned why. A few days before leaving the Admiralties and embarking for the Philippines, General Mudge himself came out and gave us a speech; “us” was the 200 or 300 unassigned men. We were to act as an emergency shore or landing party, to support the line troops by unloading and forwarding supplies for a couple of days until the regular port battalions got in; then we were to go into the line as casualty replacements. The more I learned the less I liked the prospective position. I should have realized that major generals do not usually come around to welcome replacements, even on special missions. I do not think he expected to see us any more, as the immediate beach strip on Jap-held island installations was not exactly the safest place to spend the first few days and nights during an attack. When I did get on the LSM (Landing Ship, Medium) for the trip up I realized I was in a spot. The armored rowboat was loaded with tanks and tankdozers, which were Sherman tanks with seven-ton bulldozer blades on them. That meant we were going on the beach early in the program.

[...]

We had a couple of M1s and a lot of beat-up Springfields, mostly low-number jobs. A few carbines were procured the night we sailed. I traded off my new M1 I’d been issued in New Guinea for a fair Springfield with a pistol-grip stock and rebedded and tuned up the ’03 during the voyage. Also made a canvas case for it, which proved invaluable, after we landed.

[...]

One soldier of my lot had a very bad barrel on his rifle and when I got him a new carbine he practically kissed me, then begged for permission—”I been wanting to do this ever since I got in the army, Sarge, how about it, please?”—; so I let him throw the rifle overboard, piece by piece. I could see him mentally reviewing the basic brow-beatings he had received concerning the holiness of the rifle, the inspections he had gone through and the pain he had undergone caring for a gun he had not been allowed to shoot, back in the training camps. Well, now the guy was up to the last chapter in the book and it was up to him to keep his weapons working right instead of just looking pretty and clean on the outside. We could not save the old rifle so let him enjoy himself. If he is alive today he has a pleasant memory of the time, anyway.

[...]

Some had done all their drilling with 1917 Enfields and did not understand anything about M1′s or ’03′s.

[...]

Many times I used to think about the tales I had heard and the stories I had read about World War I rookies arriving in the trenches without knowing how to load their rifles and how “That could never happen again.” It did, brother, it did.

[...]

The sense of responsibility kept me pretty sober. I was learning the line non-com’s job and didn’t enjoy it. Any mistake I made was liable to kill somebody so my judgment had better be good.

[...]

We ate with the Navy, so were happy—the Navy always eats much better than the Army—since we were used to corned beef and dehydrated potatoes. The Naval vessels can carry a lot of fresh food the land forces cannot take care of, I guess. The soldiers stocked up on bread and butter and fresh potatoes and meat, for there would not be anything like that for us after we landed.

[...]

Gas masks had been discarded, but some of us had saved the canvas bags from them and used them for holding our belongings.

[...]

Each man took what he wanted, but we were advised in the Admiralties to take as little as possible, even to throw away messkits. I held to mine and advised the men to do the same, and I also had extra footwear—a pair of jungle boots I had collected. These were a calf-high green canvas and black rubber outfit designed for sneaking up on the Nip. They could not be kept on for any length of time without causing foot trouble, as feet perspired profusely in them. Hardly anyone liked them as issued, though they were popular for relief wear when cut to ankle height. I liked them for wear around water, where any shoe or boot would get wet anyway, and they were ideal for shipboard use, the non-slip soles working swell on smooth plates and ladders.

[...]

A few men had extra canteens, which was a good idea, as known healthy drinking water would be scarce until the engineers got ashore and set up water points.

[...]

Ammunition was scarce for the carbines, but plentiful for the M1′s and Springfields, except that we had hardly any clips for the ’03′s. I went ashore myself with two loaded clips and a pocketful of loose ammunition.

[...]

We had at the last been issued jungle first-aid packets, and these were one of the items which showed some intelligence on the part of the QM equipment inventors. They had the usual bandage, a few band-aids, or adhesive tape and gauze combinations, sulfa tablets and waterproof containers of atabrine, halazone tablets (for water purification), iodine and a bottle of a solution for treating athlete’s foot and rashes in general. A bottle of insect repellent was also included.

Andy Stumpf interviews Erik Prince

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

Andy Stumpf interviews Erik Prince on the Cleared Hot podcast:

It was the futility that amused us

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

Dunlap found some instructors he could respect stateside:

From an old soldier, a master sergeant who was the best army man I ever knew, in all respects, I learned a little about hand-to-hand combat, judo bayonet and knife work, etc. He was an expert and had instructed at many army schools. We used to laugh at the old-fashioned bayonet drill some of the new organizations went in for. It was not really funny — it was the futility that amused us. We could kill the best army-trained bayonet fencer who ever lived, without extending ourselves to any effort to speak of, in practically no time. That judo bayonet system was really sudden death at close range. The sergeant knew the Japanese bayonet technique and taught us accordingly, among other things. His method of knife-fighting was different, and in my opinion, better than either the marine or Commando styles.

Nothing like drill to make a soldier

Monday, April 15th, 2019

After serving overseas, Sergeant Dunlap found himself training recruits stateside:

Theoretically, we were to give them the benefit of our experience and practical knowledge. Actually, we were not allowed to mention anything not in the training manuals, most of which had been written in the 1920’s. Except for the impromptu bull-sessions, the rookies got the same old marching-pup-tent-pack-rolling schedule the army had been putting on for years. This was late in the winter of 1944, February and March. Some attempts were made to modernize the training, but the rub was that most of the officers still believed that there was “nothing like drill to make a soldier.” None of them realized that this war did not need “soldiers” — it needed fighting and working specialists.