On the morning of the 18th, four medics were bringing down a wounded man on a stretcher—a casualty from the night attack on Malinta Hill. Suddenly, they came under machinegun fire at the vulnerable point. They panicked, dropped the stretcher with the casualty, and made a run for it down the hill. Col. Postelthwait pointed to the wounded man and shouted, “Someone get that man! I was closest, so I ran up the trail. It wasn’t a conscious decision to take a risk or to do something heroic.

The Colonel had ordered something to be done, and I was in the position to do it. As I reached the wounded man on the stretcher, machinegun bullets dusted up near my left boot. Even though he had certainly already been treated, my training automatically kicked in.  I turned the man over. There was a gaping bloody wound in his chest. I pulled out a sulfa packet, ripped it open and poured the powder on the wound. A few other men, including Frank Alvarez had followed me up the trail. We all grabbed the stretcher and brought the wounded man down to the aid station. All the while, we were under fire, but no one else was hit.

Decades later, Frank said that one of the medics had been hit, which had caused the panic, and that we also rescued him as well. It could have happened that way, although I don’t remember seeing the other wounded man. After we got down, I heard that the medics wanted our names because they were going to put all of us in for decorations. “Hey, Russ,” said the adjutant, “I’m putting you in for a Silver Star.” “Okay,” I replied. I didn’t think much of it at the time, because it really didn’t mean much to me one way or the other, and I soon forgot about the whole incident. For me it was just another day of following orders and trying to stay alive at the same time. I later heard that the stretcher casualty didn’t make it.


SOURCE OF INFORMATION:   Nicholas & William Russiello
Ch. X,  GI In the Pacific War
UNIT/FORMATION   34th Inf, 24th Div.


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