JOHN "RED HORSE" PHILLIPS
"I saw McCarter cross the
hill from his position on the south side of the hill and go down near the
"bulge" at the northeast corner of the hill.
The "bulge" was the trolley tunnel which ran into this corner of the
hill, supplying the magazine with heavy munitions and equipment.
McCarter, as a 1st scout, was armed with a
Thompson Sub Machine Gun. The distance from the hill to the road was too great for
effective fire for this weapon. On
his own volition, and without anyone else's knowledge, McCarter climbed his way
down the steep slope and took up a position in a shallow gulley by the side of
the road, opposite the upturned trolley cars. From this position he fired
directly into the enemy column. He
made several trips back to the hill that night to obtain more ammunition,
changing his Thompson for a BAR when it malfunctioned and later, when the
Browning failed, to exchange it for an M-1 Garand rifle.
The BAR had become available after Schilli was wounded.
Finally even the Garand malfunctioned, its operating rod splitting!
How many rounds did he fire to cause this tough weapon to malfunction in
such a manner?
When heavy enemy traffic going up the road
had long ceased, McCarter commenced to dueling with Japs who had taker up
covered positions around and under the trolley cars.
McCarter, short and stocky, yelled and laughed at the enemy when he was
engaged in combat, for he was one of those rare individuals which combat
transforms into a state of great exhilaration, so much so that they seem
absolutely fearless. I had seen this in him before, and
McCarter was no different that night."
"The Navy flares continued to light
up the night, but in no particular pattern, they weren't constant. The most
frequent firing took place from about 2000 hours until around 0200 to 0300
hours, though. A number of Japs did get past us,
and past McCarter, evidently assembling in the area of the rail and road
junctions to our northwest toward Way Hill.
Some of them attacked Bill Bailey's force on Way Hill, and others
attacked our east perimeter. A few went on to Topside.
After repulsing the first attack,
which came at about 2330 hours, all
was quiet for a while. After an
hour or so the chants began again and continued as before, reaching a crescendo,
and then the tide of death would flow in again.
Our confidence remained high,
though as the night drew on, there was an ever growing concern that our
ammunition might not see us through to the morning. Sometimes
it would go dark maybe fifteen minutes at a stretch. It seemed black as pitch
for so long as time passed. "Where are the flares?"
The third attack came in the same
manner as the first and second attacks, and
was repulsed, but we were now to the last of our ammunition. Johnson gathered up ammo from his 3d squad. Bayonets were fixed, and
trench knives readied. Nor did it help to have the SCR536 radio, for the
net was closed.
"Where are those flares?" Near dawn the chants started again. The situation was critical.
Fortunately for us no attack came.
Dawn broke shortly, and the phrase "immense relief" cannot do justice to our
Around dawn McCarter was hit hard by a bullet in the chest,
and when it was light, he could be plainly seen in the position where he lay
down by the road. It looked to us from a ways off he was dead. Some men went
down, even though there was some fire still from a Nambu LMG, and only
then was he carried, or rather dragged, back up the hill to its relative safety,
into a large crater near the big ventilator.
I figured it would be mid-morning
before we could get him through to Topside, and with a bullet entry near the
middle of his chest, I was worried about him going into shock. Our Medic, Pfc. Roy Jensurd, had used his
supply of blood plasma long before. I went to McCarter several times to reassure
him we'd get him out as soon as we could. Each time he told me not to worry
about him, that he was doing all right. I never saw any symptoms of shock. He
was tough and complaint was not in his vocabulary."
"The next thing I can remember was
that two or three of us (I don't know who was with me) came upon a group milling
around, trying to get McCarter out of the ravine (RR track area).
The road was wider than most with steep walls on both sides. I do not
remember where it went. He was on a stretcher.
The first I knew he had been wounded.
A Jap came out of one of two large concrete double doors, open about a
foot or twenty inches behind them and threw a grenade.
It arched up and hit the steel pole that carried the electric wire and
dropped back on him. Three others and myself grabbed the stretcher and went out
of there in a hurry!! I don't know
what the rest did.
Some of us got to look inside a day or two
later. I have never seen so much black gun powder!!
It was in large bins like we used to store oats and wheat on the farm.
We were in some other places loaded with G.P. only not so much."
"At dawn of the 19th I
reported our situation to Bailey.
We were cut off to the east by the Japs in the railroad cut, and to the
north by Japs under and around the trolley
cars. They had a
Nambu LMG. Any movement drew fire
from them and the riflemen. We were out of ammunition. We had several wounded
who were in real need of medical attention. Pasquale Ruggio, of the 2nd platoon,
was hit by rifle fire from the direction of the rail-road cut and killed.
Pfc Lawrence Rainville, mortar platoon, was wounded too. The mortar men, Sgt.
Phillips, Burl Martin, George Montoya,
the young Richard "Tropical" Peterson*,
Virgil Short, and others searched through the dozens of empty mortar shell
cartons and found 5 or 6 rounds.
After Ruggio was killed
they fired these rounds at the "ditch", or railroad cut. They thought they'd put
every round in it. Even the .50 cal was fired towards the cut.
In truth, there was a
crater against the railroad cut which we could not see, and there were over a
dozen Japs taking very effective shelter in it. These were the Japs who were
firing at us. Those in the cut were unable to climb the high, sheer walls to get
into position to fire at us.
The sun was up now, and the SCR 536 radio
was powered up. At this point the CO of D Battery contacted me by radio.
His thin radio voice was quizzing me,
"I can see about 300 yards to the east
north-east of your position, looking straight down the cut, and see a group of
men in the cut. Are they enemy?"
"Affirmative. They have us cut off from
Topside," I responded.
"Well, we'll soon take care of that," was
Only when the D Battery's 60 mm mortar
battery delivered an awesome amount of fire down the cut, where it created a
carnage exploding between the concrete walls, was the problem eliminated. Later we would find the bodies so heaped up and mutilated that we
could not get an exact body count.
We evacuated our wounded. Pvt. Lloyd
McCarter, Pfc. Benedict Schilli, Pfc. Richard Aimers, Pfc John Albersman, Pfc.
Lawrence Rainville, and one of the LMG section men, possibly two, were wounded.
All the wounded were litter cases, which gave us some problems.
S/Sgt Donald E. White from the 2nd platoon had had moved his position on the
southeast corner forward several yards in order to better see the enemy and to
control his squad. For this act of
bravery he lost his life. Pfc. Pasquale A. Ruggio, also of 2nd platoon,
was a fatality. The casualty list belied the serious situation we had been in,
and how close the Japanese had come to defeating us.