Tech 5 Dale D. Smith - World War II Veteran
Dale headed to the Pacific swearing to return home. We aren’t as familiar with the battles fought in the Pacific because it was harder for war correspondents to get to the islands on which they raged. For the soldiers fighting, it was certainly no picnic. The honeycombs that provided the Japanese with an underground city made it possible for them to emerge at night to attack the American and Philippine troops. Few roads existed for ambulances to take the wounded to relative safety to treat them, so medical care was given in the field. It wasn’t unusual for doctors and medics to be wounded or killed. Dale spent time on Guadalcanal and was part of the Luzon Invasion, in which the Japanese remained determined and relentless to the end. In one Japanese charge up a hill toward Philippine and American troops, a shell exploded so close to Dale’s foxhole that his helmet flew off. Finally the island came back into the hands of the Philippines and the Americans, and the men who had endured the Bataan Death March were rescued.
For all the danger he faced in battle though, Dale’s most life-threatening challenge came after the war. Transferred to the 86th Infantry, Dale served the remainder of his Army time as a Mess Sergeant with the American force remaining in the Philippines. Attending a movie with a buddy, he suddenly fell, unconscious, off his seat. It was a rare form of malaria that invaded his brain. Dale spent the next 12 days packed in ice in an attempt to bring down a dangerously high temperature. On the twelfth day, at 1 p.m., an Army doctor from Ann Arbor, realizing that there was nothing to be lost, removed spinal fluid from Dale as another wounded soldier helped bend him in half. Five hours later Dale opened his eyes to see a nurse coming down the hall with a bowl of green jello, a memory that remains vivid to this day. He had a long recovery, but Dale returned home, just as he said he would.
JoAnne P. Miller