THE ATTACK BY "D" COMPANY ON BATTERY MONJA
- 24 FEB 1945
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Tony Sierra

 

 

 

 

Bob Holt  was from Georgia, an army regular proud in having participated in the pre-war Louisiana manoeuvers. “That’s when I learned soldiering, and at Benning I honed it and became a trooper,” he rightfully bragged.  

He was a Southerner, Dixie accent and all and did not appear to have much formal education.  I now guess he probably went to high school two or three years, but like most of the 503rd sergeants,  he was a fighting paratrooper 100%.  He was the only squad leader I ever had, and I'm proud he passed on to me most of the paratroopering I ever knew.  

“I want you riflemen ready to take over any job in the platoon, you never know what’s acoming.”  

He was so right.  

 

 

24 February, D Company was on the beach beneath Wheeler Battery, cleaning out the caves other companies had not done.  The beach was narrow,  I believe about fifteen feet wide.  The area was so confined our three platoons were mingled.  As we slowly advanced we formed a loose scrimmage line, some of the riflemen slogged along on the inclined edges of the cliff and some of us were on the flat sand, some even in the shallow water.  Every now and then one of us would slip on the wet round stones and fall into the water.  Several caves were wiped out with heaved grenades and firing by every rifleman who could see the opening.  

            One of our men was killed and one wounded.  The Company commander ordered the patrol back to Cheney trail where we had entered the beach.  We had gone only a short way when all hell broke loose. 

A massive fusillade of machine gun and sniper fire rained down from caves on the side of the cliff too high and too obscured to see.  Nine troopers fell.  I was in the water seeking to hide behind stones, but they were too small.  Everyone looked to the cliffs for the source of the firing and saw nothing.  The commander called for LCMS to rescue us, withdrawal was impossible. The wait for them seemed eternal as the firing continued.

One of the sergeants yelled,  “Here come the boats, you guys get off your asses and bring the bodies out!  We ain’t leaving this beach without them!”

 

I slung my rifle and joined several others headed toward the cliff where most of the bodies lay.  How we were not hit, I never knew; the good 

 

Lord must have been with us.  Two or three of us picked up the boys as best we could.  I grabbed one by his harness straps and another trooper grabbed his feet. As we laid him on the sand I saw he was shot through the neck.  Blood was spurting out and running onto the sand. I put my hand over the gushing blood but I could not hold it.  It continued dripping out around my fingers.  I looked at his face and thought it was Shreifels, our Platoon sergeant.  Another sergeant, called ‘Radio’ Howard was already on the bouncing boat and hollered, “You guys get those men on board and quit looking up the cliff, we gotta get the hell going!”

The water was armpit high near the boat’s ramp and I fought to keep the wounded soldier’s head above water but I could not.  The waves and the weight I was carrying nearly downed both of us.  His face kept going under and I could see the gushing blood mixing with the salt water.

Finally those on board grabbed both of us and dragged us aboard.  I dropped, exhausted.  It was only when we were away from the cliff’s firing and on the bouncing waves that I saw it was R.V. Holt I had dragged on board.  I cried all the way back to South Beach and walked away from the others to meditate on the fate of that fine paratrooper.  

I have never forgotten him.   

            Tony Sierra
D Coy, 2d Platoon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE AUTHOR WAS A MEMBER OF "D" CO., 503D PRCT.  Tony Sierra

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