Sunday, February 19, 2006

Honor and Courage: Ramblings of a Wandering Coyote

This was posted on Hannity Forum. I am reprinting in with permission of the author, Coyote 1880. All I know of Wandering Coyote, besides being a great writer and story teller, Coyote 1880's current location is outside the mountain mist and Coyote 1880's occupation is continuing to live. Read, contemplate, and enjoy!

Ramblings of a Wandering Coyote

-Japan lived under the delusion she was impregnable. Her people were assured that no power on earth could break through her “impenetrable walls”- that no foreign foot could ever step on the soil of their heavily fortressed homeland. Drugged for generations by this narcotic of inviolability, they awakened from their age long stupor when the mighty American naval forces with their intrepid Marines blasted at their inner defenses while huge swarms of Superfortesses laid their great cities to ruins.-

From a clipping of a long forgotten London newspaper

Those who know me from this message board know that around anniversaries of significant events in WWII I like to ramble on.

I dig deep into my memories chest and Lil Coyote helps me to put together stories from my past.

Armed with my haphazard journals all written in my native tongue, newspaper clippings from long ago, notes gleaned over the years, and the odd photograph or two, Lil Coyote and I piece together those long ago days.

I am a singer. I am Dinteh. It is what I do.

This is the story of my most embarrassing moment.

*(a note: I do not know if my babysitter would have wanted for me to use his name. I can no longer ask him, so he is simply “my 2Lt.”)

It is morning. At least I think it is. Surrounded by fog, or smoke, or maybe some combination of both. I am tired, but so is everyone else.

We are measuring our progress in inches and feet when we should be moving yards and rods. I spent seven nights here before the landing force. I was here when the last saturation bombings took place. I know that one night of hell had been repeated almost daily for the last 5 months. How can there be anyone left alive, let alone so many of them.

My voice is raw. Forget the Code. The time for secrecy is gone. I have done nothing but call fire for three days. It is February 22, 1945.

I have lost track of how many bunkers I have seen blasted apart. We reached the first few yesterday and got a first hand look at what we had been shooting at. The towering wall of Mount Suribachi is a honeycomb, but its nectar is tears not honey. Some Japanese pillboxes I had seen destroyed had come back to life as if the enemy would not give up even when dead. The tunnels were more and deeper than we had been lead to believe.

Napalm and diesel fuel was now being pumped into each opening we found. Just to make certain.

At least now we are climbing. Here on the mountain there is some cover. Not like the flat blasted plain we had crossed to get here.

I am now with the 5th Joint Assault Signal Company. I have been move around so much I am no longer sure who owns me. The 4th is further north. I think I once belonged to them. I only go where they tell me to go. At least I am no longer cooped up on a ship. Their tiny radio rooms are not for me. I know I started at Blue 1 the night we landed, but by the time the rest of the force joined us, we had moved up to Green.

A sudden burst of machine gun fire rings out to the left and upwards of me. I am still looking to see where it came from when my 2Lt. lands on my back. His look is angry. He shucks his backpack and belt, tells me “Injun Joe, y’all stay put, and for Christ’s sake keep your feathers down.” Down the incline he heads, angling towards what is now the right. Minutes later he returns to tell me what I already know. There is a Japanese pillbox above us.

My 2Lt. had gone down to check on the platoon that follows us. One of their men had been shot as they breached a rise. I did not know his name, but still my heart aches. He tells me the pillbox sits about three hundred feet above the platoon. We are close to even with it, but about four hundred feet to the side. 2Lt. asks if I could call fire, and if I could please make sure not to hit the nice white men that are following us. I explain to him that if I wanted to hit them, I had already had plenty of chances. I also explain that our angle is wrong and our best chance is for me to get below, but closer.

2Lt had seen a small channel dug into the volcano by run off when he had gone back to check on our party. He felt that if I could keep my fat butt low enough, we might just have a chance to get closer.

When we reached the channel, just before we turned back up the mountain, I caught a glimpse of our charges. One was on his knees before someone lying down. I assume he was praying over our fallen comrade. The others I could see were laying back smoking. Years later I was reminded of this while at a friend’s house watching football. I am not sure anything rattled them.
Up the channel we went. Slowly. Very Slowly.

When we had reached where I guessed would be a good spot, I very carefully raised my head. There it was. Not one hundred fifty feet away. I could not see in, but that was a good thing. They could probably not see me. I had my pad and map out plotting what information I had to relay.

By this time, a few pieces were set up on the island. This was my best chance for accuracy. My first call went to yellow. I knew the ground there was a bit more hard packed and chances were they could get off the most accurate shot. Calling fire in this circumstance would be very similar to back at the canal. Very close. A safe margin of error was going to be one hundred feet. Vertical. Horizontal was another story. If we were more than fifty feet to the west of the target, I would not be making any more phone calls.

Yellow was busy. With the inhabitants of Suribachi focusing on the 5th, the 4th was making a move north. With the detail I needed, it would be more than an hour before they could lock in. Operation Detachment was fully engaged.

That is when “The Horse” stepped in. Colonel Liversedge put out a call for any available gun. He knew we were getting close and wanted Suribachi taken NOW!

I heard Texas calling. The battleship Texas. Not only could they provide support, the spotter had eyes on to our target. He could not see us, but some eagle-eye in the gun crew followed my coordinates and swore he could see the tiny opening of the pillbox. We put our faith in God and the US Navy.

I counted to ten, then raised my hand to slowly pull myself above the small embankment separating me from the Japanese. I had the RT handset in that hand, hoping to tilt my head and watch the incoming round with only one eye while I called in any corrections needed.

Then it happened.

My most embarrassing moment as a Marine.

I heard the clatter of Machine gun fire. A spray of blood and crushed bakelite showered my helmet. It took a while to realize my hand had been hit. The incoming round hit seconds later. The explosion had me stunned for a bit. It was a bit more than an artillery round should have been. It was a direct hit. The tunnel itself had formed a funnel effect that amplified the explosion.

2Lt was up and celebrating when he turned to help me up, he saw me staring at the handset now broken in half. Then he saw the blood coming from my hand. He tells me I looked like I was going to cry. All I could think of was how could I fix the handset.

We carried spare parts for the RT, but not the bakelite protective cover for the mike and earpiece. For those who remember, this was somewhat like the telephone handset on phones in the 50’s and 60’s. No dial or anything fancy, just a plastic like piece that you held between the part you listened to and the part you talked into. Ours also had a switch you could push to talk.

The switch was shot, but that I had a spare of. The problem was how I was going to hold the earpiece and mouthpiece while in use. I suppose I could have held one in each hand, but there were many circumstances where that would not work. At least not in the field.

The answer came as 2Lt was wrapping my hand. We ran the cord down my sleeve, then taped the earpiece to my index and second finger. The mouthpiece we taped to my wrist. The push to talk button went on my palm so that I could push it with my last two fingers.

It hurt to push the button, but more importantly, it worked.

The next morning, Suribachi was ours.

Chindi Lha cha eh Atse'hashke' -Coyote First Angry- Wandering Coyote

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Cross-posted: The Bosun Locker, The Bos'un at MSN


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