Robert Mebyck

Eau Claire Man Says Japs Shot Medics at Attu
Hospital Unit Spent Year on Island
CAMP BOWIE, TX, April 7A year and a day after they left Camp Bowie on their trip to Attu Island, the 14th Field Hospital Unit is back in Camp Bowie where they trained, being the first  organization from Camp Bowie to return to its base, according to officers of the outfit. 

The hospital men served as an advanced evacuation outfit in the fight for Attu, having gone into Attu with the second wave of Infantry to invade the island. They made the trip through San Francisco on a troop transport and lived on the boat for 30 days before landing on the rugged little isle where the winds reached l20 miles an hour and the snow drifts against the side of the countless hills reached a depth of 28 feet. When the men first arrived on the islands, they lived in tents, and it wasn't unusual for them to awaken in the middle of the night with  no shelter from the weather because of  the wind. 

Some Amusing Stories
They learned quite a lot during their nearly-a-year stay on Attu, and many are the tales they can tell.  Some of the stories were amusing, like the time the Japs started shelling their unit, and the officer dived into a sanitary trench filled with refuse. When asked if he'd like to get out of  it and move onto a more habitable hole, the officer told his inquirer that he wasn't going to move an inch from his safe spot. 

Technician Fifth Grade Virgil Montgomery, Conway, AR, was pinned down for 15 hours in a hole just large enough to hold and hide him from the Japs. Icy water ran over him during that time while the Japs and Infantry men of the U.S. Army fired over him and his uncomfortable position. A Jap set up a machine gun almost directly over him, and there were times when Virgil thought he would be discovered, especially when the Jap's foot would slip into the hole where he was hiding. The "brass" from the Jap's machine gun bullets fell into Montgomery's  hole  "and they were plenty hot, because a few of them fell on my neck." 

Jap In Chow Line 
The men of the 14th don't know how true the story of the "chow line Jap" is, but they tell it with real gusto. Seems that, in the Infantry outfit sent to Attu, they sometimes used to have time for chow between battles, and it came to the attention of the men one day that a Jap was sharing their  food. He apparently spoke good English and would have gone unnoticed if he hadn't made one slip. One day, while standing in the chow line, he asked a soldier for a "messenger boy." The soldier looked at him in amazement.  It must have been the amazed look on the soldier's face that scared the Jap because he suddenly bolted, jabbering Japanese. The Infantrymen shot him down.

Tells of Jap Tricks
"It took some doing to get the wounded from the area in which they fell," said Private Robert Mebyck, Eau Claire, Wisconsin. "We had to bring men down from hills and mountains with a slant, sometimes of nearly 45. Then, it took some eight men to ease the stretcher down the hillside, while more men on top of the hill aided them with a system of ropes.

"The men sure appreciated the Medics on Attu. While we were in training, we were known as 'pill rollers' but, when a wounded soldier saw us on the battlefield, he was happy. These wounded men thought more of us than they did of themselves, trying to make us leave them when they fell when they thought the Japs would get us. Those little sons of . . . Heaven, made it tough for any medic they saw in their sights. We've seen them wave a white flag and, if any of our men took notice of it and showed himself, they'd shoot him down."

There  is also the story of the Medic's own chow line one evening when more than forty men were waiting in line for their chance to get something hot into their stomachs after a few days of K rations. The Japs started shelling them, sending over shells in brackets of three each. The men scattered in all directions, making for cover as fast as they could. One lieutenant dived into a slit trench just as three shells landed on three sides of the trench. There was no more slit trench when the lieutenant rose, unhurt, from the pile of dirt which covered him after his narrow squeak.

Awaiting Furlough
The men are now awaiting furloughs, which will be of 20 days each. They are commanded by Colonel John Lagen, San Mateo, California, who was also on Attu. 

When the men sum up their experiences on Attu, they think of the weather ''which was as bad as the Japs. We would use hunting knives to cut the fog, and there wasn't a tree any place." Hazel Anderson of the Red Cross was the first woman any of the men on Attu had seen in nearly eight months. Martha O'Driscoll, Hollywood actress, was a sensation when she made an appearance on the island. 

"When we saw Martha, we just couldn't speak. It was very, very strange and overwhelming to see a woman after such a long time."