BRONZE STAR AT BANZAI POINT "
_________________
Arthur Sanchez
John Lindgren

 

 

 

*Don Abbott 

to John Lindgren

12 Aug 2001

 

 

 

FROM: Msgt. Arthur Sanchez USAFR (Retired)
Richmond, VA

 

Hello,

I recently joined the Corregidor Heritage Bn. My father “Arthur R. Sanchez” was part of the 503d PRCT. Throughout my life I remember him mentioning names of some his fellow troopers – names mentioned in “The Rock” web site. I think my father was in Company "D". I recall him telling me about the massive explosion that took place when the Japanese blew themselves up.

The following text by John Lindgren rang a bell and I am sure about the names mentioned. I guess my father was in the first platoon of "D" company.

 “I have come up to look at Battery Wheeler and Wheeler Point. I walk slowly over the length of Battery Wheeler's berm. I think of the first platoon and Gifford and Mara racing down its steep bank on to the stairs leading into the battery. Pucci is lying on the ground near the stairs leading up to the gun port. "He's dead!" shouts Hughart,  Sanchez' assistant BAR man, to no one in particular as he races by the prostrate body. But SSG Pucci would live to fight another day.”

 My father was wounded in Corregidor and evacuated back to the states.  From what I recall, they had been in combat and had not slept in a while. They were supposed to be put in a rear area to get some rest. From what I understand, that night a Japanese column came by and began setting up to attack them while they were asleep. Anyway my father and another trooper who were on duty opened fire on their column while they were in the process getting ready to coordinate the attack. The attack lasted until the next morning, by then most of the company was wiped out and my father was wounded by a grenade.

Does anybody know any more about this incident? Was this “Wheeler Point?"

For me, a lot of what I’ve heard are fragments about this and other incidents. I’d like to find out more about the 503d and keep the history straight. I know my father carried a BAR and I think is mentioned by John Lindgren in his account the “Night at Wheeler Point”. Does anyone know if this is where my father was wounded?

 

 JOHN LINDGREN Replies: .

You are correct, Art was a BAR man in the 2nd  [or possibly the 3rd squad], 1st platoon, "D" Company.  His assistant gunner was Paul A. Hughart.  Both men were wounded February 19, 1945 during the company's bloody night battle at Wheeler Point, Corregidor.  Sanchez sustained a gunshot wound in the leg and Hughart a gunshot wound in the "rump [sic]." Both men were returned to the United States for further treatment of their wounds.

Your recollection of your father mentioning a "rest area"  is puzzling, but we can be sure he didn't mean Wheeler Point.

During the night battle my platoon dropped back from their position astride Cheney Trail to the left and rear of the 2nd and 3rd squads of the 1st platoon in position on an abandoned rail line running east of Wheeler Point.

I was the last to leave the Cheney Trail position and somehow in the pitch black night got separated from my platoon that was in position in the area north of a building we called "the bunker" while I was in the area south of it.  It was hardly a bunker and probably the only people inside it were the wounded, the medics and the company radio operator.  There were four of us on the south side after I reached the position but not for long; the company commander was killed and the mail orderly wounded and taken to the aid station by the company exec.

I never saw either of them again.

After what seemed hours by myself I heard someone calling out in the darkness. "It's Gifford! I'm coming in!" I couldn't see anyone in the black night until I saw Gifford, the 1st platoon leader, but only after he was a few feet from me. I could see then he was dragging someone. "I'm taking him to the medics, John," he said.  The man, obviously badly wounded, said nothing, but in spite of his wounds he was still holding on to his BAR. I took it from him and they left for the aid station in a room that could only be entered from  the north side of the 30 by 40 foot building covered with thick layer of earth. The aid station was hardly a safe haven as the enemy was able to toss grenades and fire through ventilation slits on the north side of the building. Several wounded "D" Company paratroopers were killed there. Foley, the mail orderly was killed there.

I had no idea who the man Gifford was dragging was. I was glad to get the BAR to replace my carbine but when I fired it, it would fire one round and stop.

Nearly  thirty years later a Southern California 503 alumni chapter was formed and I think Art Sanchez was our first president but he was also a D Company veteran so we talked a lot at the meetings about our company. One day at a chapter meeting at Pico Rivera we recalled the bloody night battle when we were backed up to the edge of 500 foot sheer cliffs at Wheeler Point called by those who were there, Banzai Point. I told Art , "The BAR I got would only fire one round and I would have to clear the stoppage."  To my astonishment he said, "I was the man with Gifford. My BAR would only fire one round. I remember I gave it to one of the new guys."  I had been in the company for  six months having transferred from "E" Company to replace casualties suffered at Noemfoor Island, Dutch East Indies. I didn't think of myself as a "new man" and over time I guess I got over it.

 

FROM: Msgt. Arthur Sanchez USAFR (Retired)
Richmond, VA
John        

 

Unfortunately, my father only talked about bits and pieces of his time with the military and at that time I was also pretty young. Now that I’m older, realize historical significance and the sacrifices that went on during those times. I’d like you to know that I was very impressed with the detail and effort you put into your writings in the 503d web site. I think you did a great job in preserving history for generations and relatives of 503d members.

 I do remember my father mentioning Paul Hughart. As I recall, Paul Hughart and my father were manning a position over looking the fork of a trail the night they were both wounded. From my understanding, they were overrun by the Japanese once the attack started. The BAR in question, actually jammed during the Japanese attack; from what I’ve heard, Hughart tried to hold the Japanese while my father tried to unjam the weapon. I recall my father mentioning that Hughart was actually killed that night as the Japanese overran them. He mentioned that Hughart fell on top of him and as the Japanese overran them and bayoneted the fallen troopers. I understand that that he did get the weapon unjammed; however it seems it still wasn’t really functional. I seem to also recall my father mentioning that 30 years later, at one 503d reunions, to his surprise met up with Paul Hughart again.  

 I known my father spent around a year in the hospital. He did have wounds on his shoulder, legs, and scar on the face. He also only had partial sight in one of his eyes although he would never let on the there was anything out of the norm. He actually received a disability pension from the government until he passed away, February 1, 1985.  He did leave some writings about some of the things that occurred; from what I can tell, he first was wounded in back of the thigh by a grenade just after the initial attack and then by a second grenade while he was holding up in a bunker at lookout point, he describes that bunker as an 8x8 bunker with a 14’’ slit that went all the around. It seems that’s were he was wounded in the face and shoulder.

________________

 

The Army Record and Award Branch, had this on Arthur R. Sanchez' Military Record, recording the award of a Bronze Star and Purple Heart:

 For heroic achievement in connection with military operations against the enemy at  Corregidor on February 19, 1945. While holding a defensive perimeter around an observation post, elements of Private First Class Sanchez`s company were attacked by a numerically superior force of Japanese. Private First Class Sanchez was wounded on the initial attack but with utter disregard for his own wound, continued to man his Browning Automatic Rifle and cover his squads reorganization. Due to weapon stoppages and shortages of ammunition, it became necessary to withdraw, but Private First Class Sanchez refused assistance and crawled to the aid station alone.

Displaying great courage, he stopped enroute to aid in a fire fight.

Private First Class Sanchez`s gallantry, aggressiveness and coolness under fire was exceptionally  outstanding and a source of inspiration to his fellow soldiers.

 

 

BOOZE AND BOOTY | THE TRUCK | THE CORREGIDOR BRASS TURKEY SHOOT | FT MILLS PLAQUE | BOB HOPE AT NOEMFOOR | NO SUICIDE CLIFF | 'DOC' BRADFORD | MYSTERIOUS WAYS | MY FIRST COMBAT PATROL | THE DEATH OF BENNY SLOWE | MIRACLE AT NOEMFOOR | THE DEATH OF KARSTEN HALL | SONGS & SLOGANS |WATER, WATER NOWHERE | NO SMOKING! | BRONZE STAR AT BANZAI POINT | ON THE BEACH AT CORREGIDOR | REUNION GOSSIP 1949  |  CORREGIDOR WHISKEY

 

 

 

         

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