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ACCESS TO CARE
Oral History Interview with Corporal Thomas J. Kelly
(9 SEPTEMBER 1923 - 2 OCTOBER 1988)
CPL Kelly received the Medal Of Honor for actions performed 5 April 1945. His deeds are inspirational and you can view the full citation.
In this interview he gives a remarkable account of the events leading up to that fateful day. He also recounts, in detail, his actions on 5 April 1945. He also details events following that day.
This interview was conducted 23 March 1987.
Interviewer: Mr. Kelly, how did you get into the Army during the Second World War?
Kelly: Well, immediately after December 7, '41, Pearl Harbor Day, my entire football team decided to go down and enlist in the United States Marine Corps. And each one of us was turned down for various medical reasons. And they were simple neighborhood disabilities, like broken noses, and of course which caused deviated septums. Punctured eardrums. I always attributed that to the back of your father's hand, for being disobedient. Nearsightedness, and no real serious disability, but enough to keep us out of the Marine Corps.
In my own case I didn't have 20-20 vision. And they turned me down. I thought I was a pretty physical specimen, having my own gymnasium at the time. Being a weight lifter. I thought I was taller than all the Marines that were there that day. And I thought I was stronger than all of them. But I couldn't see as well, so I was rejected, and it hurt my ego.
So a month later I went through the carrot routine, eating carrots, and not reading, no swimming in chlorine pool. And I thought I could improve my vision, and I did. But they turned me down again. And then they turned me down the third time. And then I said, well that's it for the Marine Corps, I’ll go over to the Army.
And my, all the group was being drafted into the Army. People I played ball with. And I wanted to go with my friends. So, my boss happened to be chairman of the draft board. I think I was probably the only one that went down, saying can you draft me now rather than when my age comes up? Because I want to be with my friends. So I went in with my group as a draftee.
Interviewer: Where did they train you as a medic?
Kelly: Well, I started at Camp Upton, the induction center. They put us on the train after a few weeks. And it took like four days just to get from New York to Virginia. And when I got off the train I saw a sign, medical replacement training center. And in my own mind, gee the Marines turned me down, I must be physically bad cause this is a 4F-A. I thought only weaklings, you know, not infantry material would be in the medical corps.
So I was rather upset. I went through basic training, and there was a lot of Latin words and I didn't have any languages and I thought it was going to be a very difficult. But I caught on to medical terminology. And I felt I was getting an education. I was starting to study Latin to a degree.
We have some materia medica, it's like getting into pharmacology in great detail. And words were coming, and it was pretty good. I went through three weeks, became a Non-Com, and then I became a cadre man for the...there were three months the training was, and then I was cadre for three months. And then Camp Picket closed. And all the medics were shipped out to different units.
From there I went to, I ended up in a hospital train unit, and they said we were not trained technically enough. So they sent us to Billings General Hospital, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. And I became a medical technician. I think the spec number was 409. And there we had intensive, how do you identify a disease, how do you treat a wound, any possible medical condition a GI would have, we had to know how to pretty well treat it.
And the greatest part of it was they would give you a set of facts and you would have to come up with a diagnosis. And it was like playing detective, guessing at the disability. I found that that was quite educational. I found it entertaining. I started to like the medical corps a little better, because I thought I was getting something out of it.
Well, we finished our medical training at Billings General Hospital, and they sent us back to Camp Ellis, Illinois. Which was in Peoria, Illinois, to get on our medical trains and start heading overseas. Well, they filled the medical trains up with cadre, (inaudible) field replacements. And they shipped them over with no medical training, because they needed them right away. And we now are trained for the job, and we have no unit to be assigned to.
But then they formed general hospitals, and I became a member of the 122nd General Hospital, and I shipped overseas on D-day, 6-6-44 on the Queen Mary, as a member of the 122nd General Hospital. We were stationed in Harriford, England, right on the Welch border. And I ended up in the physical therapy department.
And I enjoyed the work very much. I was able to see improvements on the fellows that were severely wounded, lost their arms and legs. And treat them, as much as we can, so that when they got back to the states, they would have greater use of their limbs, and be physical...in other words, the more they suffered in England, with hard physical therapy, the better they'd be when they returned to civilian life.
And I liked doing that. But I started to develop a complex. Being I went from 172 pounds to 218 pounds, and I was exercising so much, in the physical therapy department. Instead of losing weight or getting a little bit bigger I was really growing in bulk. And it got so easy for me to pick up these wounded fellows that were coming back with no arms and no legs, and they (inaudible). Every time I lift the fellows I would look at his face and find he only looks like 17 or 18 years old. And with no arms and no legs he felt like a baby in my arms.
It got to me. I thought I was having too good a time in England. I didn't belong. I was having problems with my Colonel because I refused to plant grass for him. And I kept saying, send me to the infantry, or send me to paramedics. I had qualified for them. And anything I wanted he wouldn't give me, until the Battle of the Bulge started.
And I got friendly with a patient who was a General in the 3rd Armor Division, who was a classmate of Eisenhower at West Point. And I, he knew about my problem with the Colonel. I wasn't rebellious. I'd work 24 hours on a patient, but I wouldn't plant grass when there was a war on. And I didn't give a damn if they shot me, I wasn't going to plant grass.
So he says, Tom can I help you. I says, anyway you can get me out of, get me into the infantry. He says you'll be in it tomorrow, I guarantee you. So, he made one call and the next day I had orders shipping me out.
And I went out as an infantryman who was a trained medic. And went to Le Havre, and to Paris. Up through a few more French towns, and into Belgium, Givet, Belgium on the Meuse river. And was in the replacement depot. And waiting to be assigned to an infantry. I never qualified with a rifle, it didn't make any difference. I figured I’d learn when I got there. I was getting what I asked for.
Weather, surprisingly was very cold, and the snow was 18 feet high. And I was wondering what I got myself into. Well, I got called out one day to, said you're being assigned to the 7th Armor Division. And I moved up into Belgium, and when I got into the 7th Armor Division rear, with other replacements, they went through qualifications. And I had the rifle in my hand, and the Sarge come up and say hey what are you doing with that rifle. He took the rifle out of my hand. He said you're just what we need. I said what. He said a medic. You're going to be a medical aid man. I said, well that's what I was trained for.
So I was sent up and up until one day I arrived in a bombed out building and I met the battalion aid surgeon, Dr. White. And he says, you're assigned to me and you're going to be assigned from here now to 1st Platoon, Company C, 48th Armored Infantry Battalion. So I moved up to another bombed out building. And they said find a place to sleep, this is your platoon.
I looked at these beat up looking, tired, bearded, dirty looking soldiers, and me coming from physical therapy with the medical corps, with a nice clean shave and a beautiful tan from my ultraviolet lamp back in the hospital, I just told all the infantry guys that I just came from the South Pacific. I didn't want them to think they had a recruit as a medic. I wanted them to have a little faith in me, in the beginning. Until I proved whatever I had to prove.
Well, my first test as a medic in the infantry came when both the doctor, the Battalion Surgeon, and the Company Commander said, Kelly you'll have to check everybody's feet cause we had too many cases of frozen feet. I said I just left England. We got ward full, 60 men on a ward with black feet. I know all about it. I’ll check them out.
So I went to the Platoon Sergeant, and I said SGT Marcos, I got to check everybody's feet. These fellows were sitting in a circle in the snow, looking miserable, you know. And he said, well go ahead and check their feet. So I said, all right, everybody take your boots off. Said it nice and quiet like, and they sort of looked at me, and looked away. I said, come on, everybody take your boots off, I’ve got to check your feet. I said you don't know how bad this problem is if you don't take care of your feet.
Not one guy moved. So I said, well they're playing games with me. I got to prove myself. Well, coming from Brooklyn if you're going to give me a challenge I’m going to accept it. So I walked up and down the line. I saw a guy with a submachine gun. He looked like Humphrey Bogart with a rough beard. He had four grenades on his musette, the bag, musette bag. And he looked the meanest. So I said, I’m starting with you, take your boots off. And he, you know, what he told me to do. And I said, please take your boots off. And he told me again what to do. I said I’ll give you one more time, take your boots off. He says or else? I says or else I’ll take them off. He says, try it.
Well, he gave me the invitation so I stepped on him. I just leaned forward. He was sitting there, and he had his legs crossed. I just, I did some wrestling, and in the manner I had his legs entwined with my arm, and I was twisting his legs back onto him, and I put my left hand on his throat, and I started inverting him almost. Squeezing him by the throat, not letting him speak. And I said, when you're ready to take your boots off blink your eyes. And you start twitching his eyes, and I stepped back. And now I figured now he's going to spring on me. Watch the gun, he's going to hit me with it. But I stood up and I looked at him. I said, don't try getting up now.
So he got the message and he took his boots off. And I deliberately gave an extra squeeze to every toe, to see if the blood come back to see if he had good circulation. Then I said open up your, separate your helmet from your helmet liner. And he did. I says, where's your extra pair of socks. He said what extra pair of socks. Everybody in combat has to have an extra pair of dry socks. Particularly when it's cold and wet and damp. You change them everyday. I said, from now on everybody...and I looked around anybody else got an extra, no one had an extra. So I brought that in as an innovation into my platoon.
Now I figured, how am I going to get to the rest of them. So I just turned and started walking to the Platoon Sergeant, I says, okay Sergeant, I guess you're next. And he just turned around, gave a command, get your boots off. And boy they responded to him. And I checked them. I got five fellows that were on the verge of getting trench foot, frozen feet. So I made sure they took care of their feet, had dry socks. Well, that's the way it started.
And the rest remained from my first attack to see what would happen. When I, the first attacks weren't too bad. I went from Belgium up to the Rhine River. And I found being a medic and having the Germans trapped back against the Rhine, that they were getting a little claustrophobic, and they were trying to hide from the, what Goebbels said was the American gangsters, the Chicago gangsters that would shoot them on sight. But all the Germans seemed to know what the Red Cross stood for. I had four on my helmet and two on my arms. When they hid from the infantry they would come forward when I passed them, went in line behind me. (Interruption in proceedings)
Interviewer: So the Germans didn't hide from you?
Kelly: They surrendered to me, rather than to the infantry. (Interruption in proceedings)
Interviewer: I said all the Germans seemed to know, you were mentioning all the Germans seemed to recognize the Red Cross, and they would surrender to you.
Kelly: Historically, I guess the Red Cross was recognized in Europe, and identified with Switzerland in particular. But they knew it meant sanctuary. And I was never taught in basic training or any advanced medical training how the Germans would react to a red cross.
Well, when their backs were to the wall, and they were afraid of the infantry when they knew they knew they couldn't get out, they couldn't make the Remagen Bridge, they were cut off. I would walk behind my infantrymen in their attacks, and I’d look around and I’d see a German soldier running to me. I got rather excited, I didn't have a gun. And no, he's shaking his head, nicshi, he said nicshi, which I found out, I’m not shooting, you know. I won't (inaudible) shoot. So I heard the GI’s always saying, (inaudible) and lay down your arms. So I would say (inaudible) and he dropped his gun. I heard the other command, follow me, (inaudible). But he ran behind me. So every time I stopped with the infantry, he stopped behind me.
So the next time I looked I had five fellows behind me. Before I know it they're attacking a little village, and they're fighting, they take three prisoners. And I walked in with 60 prisoners. And I sort of...how did this happen? I said, I don't know how it happened, but it just happened. My first experience, gee I proved myself pretty well. I took 60 prisoners, they only took three. The whole platoon. Well, it went on like that. Everyday the Germans were surrendering to the medics. And I didn't really have any intensive fires. I didn't have any dramatic scenes in taking care of wounded until we crossed the Rhine at the Remagen Bridge.
And then from then on it really, everyday was a bad day for me. That's when I started to get into the heavier scenes. Wounded Germans, who had no doctors. And I was the only doctor. If we were stopping I could take care of them. If we didn't stop you'd leave them for whoever followed us to take care of. But then I start picking up American wounded, and applying the basic treatment. Was apply the sulfa to the wound, take a compress and make it tight. If it was heavy bleeding put a tourniquet on them. And then give them a shot of morphine, half a grain of morphine in a (inaudible).
And then if he didn't have a stomach wound you could give him sulfadiazine tablets, and make sure he washed it down with water. And that was the basic treatment. I think what they taught me in basic training, the three principles of prevent bleeding, prevent shock, prevent infection. That came back to me when I started the treating. Then I realized that the sulfa pills were preventing infection. Stopping the bleeding and putting on the tourniquets worked hand in hand. That was preventing shock. And the quicker you could do this to a wounded man, better chance he had of being saved as he was sent to the rear.
But when I got over the Rhine I saw my first instance of a man being shot immediate in front of me by a 50 caliber machine-gun on the half-track. The town surrendered. We were going through the town, and when we were going through it all the windows opened up and they started throwing grenades down into our half-tracks, and they wounded a lot of people. So the tanks just turned their guns broadside. We had six tanks in front. They turned broadside. We had 25 half-tracks with a company of infantry. They just, every man was shooting at every window and every machine-gun on the half-track was shooting at the doors, and assuming Germans were coming.
Well, within five minutes the entire town was on fire and collapsing. My machine-gun, on my half-track was swinging on the building as we were moving up slightly. It was a building, to our right, like 25 yards. And the gunner swung his gun on the building, and it was cutting down. You could see the bang, bang, bang. Just as it reached the door of the building, door opened up and a German soldier walked out, with his hands up. But he just, there was no stopping that gun on the (inaudible). And he walked right into the fire. And the bullet, that's the first time I saw a man pulled through the air by a 50 caliber machine-gun. And he hit the ground, and he got up, and by that time all the firing, we had destroyed the town. All the Germans, that could, were running out into the woods, and out of town. Because the building collapsed in front of us, and our tanks couldn't go any further until we got a bulldozer tanked up to clear out the path.
So the German walked down the column and everybody just looked at him. No one shot him, you know. He was wounded. When he got to my half-track, the fellow that shot him said doc aren't you going to take care of him. I said they never told me I was supposed to take care of the Germans. And I had, I had been taking care of them...I figure this is combat, we're going to move right away. He says we're not moving, go ahead. So when I jumped out of the track and got along side the soldier, he came up to here on me. He had a great big overcoat and he looked like a big soldier from the perspective. But when I got alongside him I took his helmet off, he had little blond hair, and he was just a kid that the army, German, the SS, made him fight. And I got all shook up because he was so young, and it reminded me of being back in England, unloading the hospital trains of our own wounded who looked ten times younger when they had no arms and legs, and they were so light in my arms when I used to move them into their beds.
So I tell you it's just like England now. I said, (inaudible). At that time I had been picking up German, sit down. And I pushed him down. He was in shock. And I saw the blood pouring out, arterial bleeding. They used to say it pulses out, you know. It was blasting out, so I knew I had to get a tourniquet on him, and pour sulfa in it, and put a bandage on him. Well, his tender age got to me. And I put the bandage on first and then I said to myself, I didn't put the sulfa in, and that's wrong. And I took the bandage off, and I said, my God I didn't put the tourniquet on. So I pulled the tourniquet from under my belt and put it on his arm, upper arm, and pulled it tight. Then I went down, I started to bandage again without the sulfa. I said I’m doing it wrong again, and I start to get the shakes. And I remember saying I’m killing him and I didn't want to do that. I want to save him. And I took one deep breath, and you know, I felt better. Then I put the compress on. And gave him a shot of morphine, and he rested, you know. And within a few minutes he was in dreamland.
Now I didn't want to leave him. I didn't know what to do with a German soldier. Well, the bulldozer came to clean the street and the next minute the GI’s are saying come on doc, we're moving out. You know, they're not going to fight the war without their doc. I didn't build any reputation as yet. But they knew they wouldn't go into combat unless they had a medic with them. I think they would call the war off if they had no medics. So if you kill off medics there'll never be another war maybe. And I say that facetiously of course. But they start to realize how important the medics were to the men.
Well, I had to jump back in the half-track because they were moving out. And when I got in the track I started thinking of the situation how I almost killed that poor kid. And I got the shakes. And the fellow that shot him, who became my best friend, till today he still is alive and a friend. He put his arm around me, and said hey doc, you're going to see a lot more of this kind of stuff. He had been wounded twice already. So he had been around, and I was still a baby in combat.
Well, before the day was over I saw all the combat. We destroyed the next town, and we destroyed the next town. But, and I treated people all along. The same treatment, sulfa, compress, morphine, and tourniquets. I learned quickly, I had 50 tourniquets. I'd have them all around my belt, just stuck in so I could just pull a tourniquet out and put their arm, either the legs, the extremities only. And it was...and then I started carrying more and more compresses. I got extra bags because I was a big kid and I was strong. I didn't want to run out of bandages, so every time the medic jeep come up I’d grab a bag out of their jeep and take it with me. And before I know I have 10 musette bags loaded down with all kinds of equipment. And that's the way it went.
And it got a little worse everyday. And I was taking more and more prisoners everyday. Was treating more and more German soldiers because they didn't have medics, no doctors. And they had no bandages. They were running out of everything. And we finally went through, like two months, of small, relative, fighting, until the entire United States, two Armies, 1st and 3rd Armies surrounded the Ruhr Valley. And that was our next big battle, the biggest battle for me.
There was 130,000 German troops in this pocket that we had. And we had two armies set to go in, but when you think of an army attacking, you put it in perspective, you've got one street to go down, one little country road, with six tanks and three tank destroyers and an assault gun. A company of infantry. That was our assault unit in combat infantry setups that we had.
Well, April 5, 1945 was the day that the entire attack started against the Ruhr valley, which was the industrial strength of Germany. And April 5, 1945 probably as many men got shot in Germany as were shot on D-Day on the beach. Because the Germans were waiting on them on high ground, and they were well equipped, lots of ammo, and tanks, plenty of tanks. So, as we left the town of Obercurtin, Germany, down a small winding road through rolling hills, that now, I saw two years ago, I found it's a vacation area, it's a ski area, and there's a walking area, a lake area in the summer time for the German people. And placid, you know, and peaceful.
But as our lead tank turned the bend in the road heading towards the town of Almert, a-l-m-e-r-t. The town composed of ten houses, a religious community of farmers belonged to the same faith...they practiced their religion together and farmed the land in the community area. It was a little different than the rest of Germany. And this was where everything seemed to happen. Tank turned the corner, and from high ground in the hills, two German tanks fired down into the lead tank and it bounced off him fortunately. But he just pulled back around the bend. And no tank could go around that corner with German 88's mounted on the...no American tank could go around the corner with 88's mounted on the German tanks. And they couldn't go off the road because the roads went up. And what happens when a tank can't move, they call the infantry. And this is what you have to do fellows. You got to go up that open field there, about 300 yards up to the woods, and come around the back.
There was an assumption that the tanks would not see the infantry from the angle of fire. But the German picked a spot where he controlled the road, he controlled all the hills. And you couldn't move in any direction without coming under fire.
Well, they let us walk up almost 300 yards. We were in the skirmish line. It was cow pastures, and no trees. Completely open. And every time we reached a barbwire fence separating a cow pasture we had to climb over it. And another 100 yards another cow pasture. Now we only got 100 yards to go to get in the woods, and then we figured we would come around behind the town, not worry about those tanks up on the hill for awhile. We'd take care of the infantry that's in the town.
Well, just as the men in the skirmish line were approaching the woods, the two tanks had direct fire, direct line of fire. Like 2000 yards with an 88 is nothing. And they started zooming, you know, boom, boom, boom. And then it's all the trees on this one side, they go up in fire, blowing up. They had tree bursts and then ground bursts.
The Captain, the infantry immediately realized that we walked into a trap. And I saw so much fire, and so much explosion and smoke that I didn't see men falling. And the Captain said get off the hill, well I figured no one was hit, even with all this I didn't hear anybody yelling medic. And I saw all these fellows running off the hill, and they're running towards me. And I had just climbed this barbwire fence, and I realized, you know, they're going to get hung up because they're not going to have time to step over it. So I went around breaking poles, and then I’d throw my body on the barbwire. And, you know, I yelled, you know, this way. And they just ran right over me, kept right on going down the hill. Then they had the second barbwire and the third barbwire. One strand, that's all it was.
Well, I got up now after they all passed me and I figured we all got off, and I figured I’d give one look at the scene and when I turned around I saw seven men. Now they're screaming out loud, and they're blinded. And they're running, trying to get off the hill in response to the command. And they keep running into each other and grabbing each other, you know, hysterical. And then they start yelling medic, you know, doc, medic.
Well I saw tracer bullets, you know, coming in now. And I figured I got to hit them, knock them to the ground. So I charged them, and being bigger than all of them, I hit the seven men, one after the other, like I was shoulder blocking when I played hockey or football. I just banked everyone immediately to the ground, because they were off balance, being blinded. And they hit the ground real fast. I hit the last one and I got on the ground myself, and I said play dead everybody, play dead. I said it's the doc, it's the doc. And then I watched what was happening. I saw all the tank fire chasing the infantry, and then all the machine-gun fire started to turn, chasing the infantry down the hill. I figured this is time to make a move.
So I got on my knees and pulled them all into a line, the seven. I took their hands, grabbed the musette bag of the fellow in front. I got them all up. Fortunately they were all hit in the face, and none of them were hit in the legs. And whether or not it was the tree burst, or, a lot of them had mud, so the ground, exploding. They may not have been permanently blinded, but I never saw any of them again. I don't know if they were or, I assume afterwards that it was temporary at the time. When I say get up and run, I say I’m going to take the lead hand and everybody better hold on. Whoever breaks the chain is left behind.
So I was able to run them down to the spot that I had broken the posts. So I had four posts down, so I had like 25 yards that was flat. So I ran them. They all got through it. Now, I was running for the second strand and I realized that I can't float them up. Because I could see the fire like 50 yards ahead of me, and I knew those Germans were concentrating on the infantry running off. So I said keep running. I'm going to break the grip on the first man, I’m going to run ahead. And I ran ahead and I threw full blocks, you know. I busted one pole, I broke the second pole. And I ran them through, and then I ran and caught the lead guy. And they held on just running down, because it was 300 yards good incline, about 30 degree incline. And now I had them again, and now all the fire stopped because they hit the road. And now I figured holy smokes, you know, it's going to come on us now. And we have like 100 yards to go. And they ran.
When I got to the last I couldn't stop, I couldn't get ahead of them. And I just ran through the barbwire. I ripped myself, two strands of old rotted...it wasn't something that would really stop me and trip me but I ran through it. What made me run so fast and hard was the tracer bullets started to come. Trailing us, coming closer and then it just stimulated me. And the other guys of course were stimulated and only they had moved like 200 yards and maybe another 100 yards they'll be safe. But I got seven of them down. Gee, it seemed miraculous that not one guy was shot on the way down. And I didn't even think there'd be a way. Everyone was saying what a great job, you know, they figures this is it. But when I started the run, I had seen wounded stretched out all over the field. And I didn't think twice.
I instinctively turned and headed up the hill. And I got about 100 yards up and then the tracers started to come at me. I realized then I’m running alone, you know, I’m alone now. And I started to think, why am I doing this. And I was thinking I got to keep my mind occupied. Have to have a reason, got to have a reason for doing this. You know, I think well the fellows that they all... Well, I ran and I used the same path because of the barbwire situation. I had to follow that path each time now. And I saw a man now sitting in the middle of this field, up on top of the hill, in the middle of this group. I spotted him first because he was the only one sitting up. And he was throwing his arm away. His uniform was shot up. He was sitting and he said I don't want my arm. And he was in shock, and this is no good to me, and he's throwing it away. And I could see, I mean the blood was all over him. I knew I had to stop the bleeding. Something they never taught me now in basic training, how do you handle a man that's under this kind of stress. And he just happened to turn his face and I saw his jaw as I slide in. I just, like came up, and hit him right in the jaw and he went back, and he was out. I said, gee that was easy.
I pulled his arm over and I had a lot of pins. I took a big pair of my pin...his uniform up, to give him like a sling. It sort of came on the spot to me. And then I saw the stump he had, and the bone out, and I had enough room to turn the tourniquet on. And I gave him a shot of morphine. Well, he was already relaxed now. And I now picked him up in a fireman's carry, and as the bullets came near me, look I said, I got to get out of here. You know, and I was trying to dance between the tracers. Cause in the infantry you realize for every tracer bullet there's four bullets you don't see in between.
Well, I ran down with them passing over me, or through me. I was always getting feelings of things going through, some people like pulling on my uniform. It was the holes that I was accumulating. Well, I got him down. But when I got to the bottom of the hill with this one particular heavy machine-gun following me all the time. Like I outran the smaller 30 calibers. They're distance was just out of range, but the 50's was in the range. Well, when I got to the bottom of the hill I was running so fast now I couldn't stop. And I ran right into the ground and I was knocked unconscious. And it was like a second, two, ten, I don't know.
When I woke up I was on a medic jeep, and with all the blood, you know, on me from the blinded man and this fellow with his arm, still the tourniquet was on, but blood still comes out. They threw me on a jeep, and the minute the jeep started for the aid station in the town back, I rolled off the jeep, remembering another wounded man I saw. And I ran up the hill again.
And now the infantry is sort of looking at you, and wondering what you're doing. And then I started to wonder what I was doing myself. And, I said, I got to do it. My name is Kelly, and I’m very proud of my name, and I’ve got to do it. I was thinking of my mother and father. Well, I got up and, there was a Sergeant, I recognized the Sergeant. He was shot through the heart. And I didn't have a chance to, there was no time to bandage people. And on this occasion, like he was in the more exposed area. And the bullets were flying and (inaudible) at me. So I just put him up, and figure I’ll get him down, they'll work on him at the bottom of the hill.
So I got him in a fireman's carry. This time the tanks came back, like out of the woods. And one, they sent a, like a high explosive round. Missed me, but it was close enough to flip me and the wounded man 10 yards, flying through the air. And with the adrenaline going, as we hit the ground I sprung up and he was rolling and then I continued my swing into a run, I picked him up and on a run threw him to my shoulders. And I knew this is, I can't do this kind of thing that I’m doing. And I headed down as quick as I could, outrunning the tracers. And now I saw a bunch of GI’s coming up off the road, on the little ridge. They realized I wouldn't be able to stop again. So they were trying to catch me, and slow me up. But at the speed I was running, the downgrade, I hit the four of them. And the six of us went down the hill, the last five yards or ten yards.
And I was out again, back on the jeep, and off to the hospital. The minute it moved I rolled off it again, and I ran over to the infantry fellow. And now I’m beginning to look pretty bad. My helmet's gone, and when I found it later I had two bullet holes in my helmet. And my arm, I had three or four through my red cross on my left arm. And I kept looking, is there any blood coming down my arm, and there was none, so I said I guess I’m all right. And I’m saying, there's fellows, I saw more men up there. I didn't really get a good close look at how many were there, but I saw at least one or two, and I knew I had to go back.
So I yelled at the infantry who's going to help me, where's the other medic. There was two platoons involved, so 120 men, there got to be another medic. There was no medic around, and the infantry didn't want to look at me. They sort of turned their head away. So I ran up, and this time it was a, the recruit just came in that day. First day in combat. And he was laying out on his back. He weighed about 220. He had a tremendous size thigh exposed. His pants were like blown off. And there was no bleeding. And it's another experience when the hot shell fire, it actually severs and it burns and sears the wound. And I didn't realize that leave well enough alone, just bandage it. I learned a tremendous thing about sulfa.
Since I was following the medical treatment, of throwing sulfa on the wound before I stumped it. That there was a clear cut. The minute I threw the sulfa on it like hit an exposed nerve or something. And the quadriceps muscles all contracted, and the bone, femur bone just protruded out. And it popped the femoral artery and it squirted right up into my face. And I, aw, I said, what did I do, you know. And I pulled the tourniquet I had put on already real tight. And then I had to stick a compress under the tourniquet to get more leverage against the upper part of the femoral artery to stop it. And I slowed it up and I watched this crazy looking muscular action taking place in the leg. Well, I didn't worry about the bone. The bone was actually out. Before I didn't see it. So I got a big stomach compress and put it under it and pulled it together with a elastic bandage. I carried a lot of them with clips. And I made a pretty good thing. And I looked around, and it looked quiet.
So I threw, rolled him onto my back. Gave him the morphine. And it looked like, you know, he was between shock and the morphine he was pretty well out of it. And I charged down the hill again. But now a guy grabbed my leg on the way down, tired to tackle me. On his belly, don't leave me, don't leave me. And I kicked him away, you know, I said, don't slow me up. I’ll be back, I’ll be back. Well, I made it again, running through the fire. Hitting the...by now, like a second wind, and this man was the heaviest of the ones that I carried. Even though his leg was off, he had lost a lot of weight for that. I felt strong. So I hit the road.
Now, I was, since I didn't pass out this time, I was mad, and I yelled at the infantry, you know, who's going to help me. I said there's men all over the hill. I kept saying all over. I didn't know how many there were. But I saw two more again, you know, on the way down. And nobody, again, wanted to look. And then I told them what I thought of them. You know, where's your guys with the silver stars, you know. The previous heroes, you know. I need help, who's going to help. And nobody. Then I said, eh, wasting my time. I started to run, and one of the infantry privates ran up and said, doc, I’ll go with you.
And it was a kid named Yarborough. Who was known at the time as really an eight ball. He had been wounded twice already. He was 19. And I was finding him drunk almost everyday in the foxholes. He always seemed to find whiskey. And he was a forward observer for the mortar squad with a phone. He didn't answer the phone. Everybody would say he must be hit. So I never got any rest because of this kid. They were always telling me he's wounded. So I’d have to follow some line, and I didn't like night fighting then. Follow a line out in the dark and end up in his foxhole. His forward hole. And there he would be with a bottle there. I ended up carrying spirits of ammonia, just to keep him awake. And I ended up having to sit with him, become the forward observer. And I didn't want him to get a court marshaled, or tell anybody what he was doing. He was the fellow, maybe he was paying me back, you know, for not reporting him.
So when he said he'd go, a friend of his, everybody, no matter how bad you are, has a friend. His friend, another private, said I’ll go too. I said strip down, take your belt, packs, everything off this. We're just going to run up, try to get a man each, and then try to make it back. So we started up the hill. We got 50 yards and the bullets start to fly. Yarborough turned and ran off the hill, so I thought he was putting on a show, you know. And he chickened out, because, I didn't have a high regard for him at the time, because of his drinking. Although he had much more combat time than I did, and had a reason. But his friend and I arrived at the top of the hill safely.
His friend didn't know how to pick up a wounded man, so I went over and just picked the man bodily and threw him onto this fellow, the infantryman's back. Showed him how to get the fireman's carry. Said stay on your knees until I get a man. So I went over, easily picked the man up, rolled him onto my back. And I said, when I say go, and when I was about to say, let's go, Yarborough was running up the hill now. And he was being chased by tracer bullets and he slide in on his belly like he was playing baseball. I didn't say where have you been, I said here, take this man. And I put him into position on his knees, and I swung this wounded man on. No treatment now, it was just get them off the hill. And then I picked another one up. And then I just threw them all now. Like eight of them in a row, lined up at the edge of the wood. So I said, when we head down spread out so we don't get hit together. And now we are all together, and I said let's go.
And we stood up to run, and then from the opposite hill the tank fire came. And we were all blown up, like him right onto my spread legs, and up in the air. I was out. When I woke up, the first thing I saw was Yarborough's friend was alongside me, and I could talk, I felt okay. I was hurting. I said are you okay. And when I touched him the head was on me, it just rolled off me. I was looking at his head, and there was no body. The body was someplace else. And it just rolled off. You know, it didn't upset me. Because the few months now, you start to get, you know, it doesn't bother you any more. You get used to seeing things.
Now I turned around, I saw the three men on our backs were dead, laying there in this pile. And I’m looking for Yarborough who should be nearby. He was blown like ten yards away. And then he started saying doc, I’m hit, I’m hit. He was laying on his back. Well, I went on my belly over to him, and I saw his leg, saw this is easy. You know, to myself. Grabbed a tourniquet and quickly put it on him, pulled it tight, start throwing sulfa in him. I was going to pick him, you know, stop him quick, because I’m clear right now of the fire. This is the spot that only a tank can hit, not the machine-gun.
So I started to dress him. And then he said doc, and I went over to him. He grabbed me by the lapel and pulled himself and he looked at me. And this is when he said, mother, mother. And he said mother. And then he said oh my god. And he, you know, looked and kept pulling me closer. He just fell back. And I said you can't die on me. I put him down, I rolled him over. I said, you cant' be dead, you know. I rolled him. Only the leg, you can't die from a loss of a leg. And then I looked up towards his head, and he had shrapnel went in one side and came out the other. He looked like Frankenstein with the electrodes sticking out. Well, I get shook up.
Maybe because of that, not that him dying, but what he said, you know. So I got mad. I stood up and I ran out so I could see that German farmhouse where the 50 was coming from. I was throwing my hand up in the air, you know, cursing them, I’ll kill you. If we ever get to town I’ll kill you. Then I heard someone say doc, doc I’m hit. So I turned and (inaudible) and ran over and picked up another man now, and figured no time to treat him. I threw him on my back and we started down. And again, this is the first, second, third, fourth time, like I pass out again.
Put me on a, and every time, you know, and I yelled at them when I woke up, don't put me on any litter, I’m not dead, don't put me on the litter. And I wasn't going to ask anybody else to go up anymore. So I turned, and now I know I’m dead now, and I can't stop and say why. Well, I went to...my fifth grade nun used to lock me in the closet all the time. I was the worst time in the class. And I always had chewing gum on my nose, or like tape, tape on my mouth because I was speaking too much. And the clothes closet was a little silence, so she had me there most all the time. And the nuns are married to God and they have that great ability to always hit me in the temple with the back of the hand, and teach me discipline. I felt this Sister Teresa Joseph slapping me in the head, you know, do it. So why do you do something? You're looking for excuses. This was mine.
And I thought of Sister Teresa Joseph, I got another man. (inaudible) and I said my name was Kelly, and I got to the philosophical part, I’d rather be dead than be a coward. And every time I went up, and someone said don't leave me, that kept pulling at me, so. I think the last man I got, then there were others that I never even saw because they were spread out so far. But when they, the last man, I was running down and out of nowhere all of a sudden the war really picked up in volume.
We had six self propelled guns that eventually pulled into position. And they started shelling the town. They started shelling the hill. And I’m like out in the middle of a war scene, the only one with the ringside seat. Watching it, coming from all, and the infantry and tanks lined up on this little narrow cut road. And all of a sudden I heard a tremendous roar, and I said jeepers they're not using bigger than 88's at me. I could hear this train coming. And I looked to the right and there were six P47's coming right over, like the treetops and passing over the open field. And I hope they don't think I’m a German. And I could see all those puffs of smoke coming out of the wings. And they flew right over my head and just continued on and hit the town, and like brooom, flew everything apart. And after that they would drop bombs as they hit the town.
Now our tanks moved under this covering fire. They had dropped smoke, while phosphorous bombs on the tanks to blind them. They didn't even knock any of the tanks out. They all got away in the woods, but the white phosphorous bombs were giving cover now. And the white phosphorous shell was from our 155 howitzers were blinding the German tanks, so our tanks moved into the town. And you figure well the wars all over now. We got the town. Where's the town. There's only ten buildings in the town. And 40 years later when I was there two years ago, there was still only ten buildings in the town. Rebuilt and modernized, but the same religious community. But different generations living there.
Well, the Germans counter attacked and started shelling the town. And in front of me a shell went off, hit the building. The fellow was going by, had grenades on him, and the shell's not only hit him but they set the grenades off. One was a white phosphorous, and you could see him, you know, going up with the white phosphorous shells and...well, I had to run in and pick him up out of the white phosphorous. So, I couldn't step on it. And carry him out, like ten yards, and set him down, and then drag him into a barn. And there were seven or eight men wounded by that little shell fire there.
Next thing I know I’m passing out again, and I have 22 wounded men accumulated in that barn the infantry brought in. And no one to treat them, and I’m the only medic. They couldn't find the other medic. So I gave them all my spirits of ammonia. I told them if I pass out wake me up, you know, break this under my nose. Stick it up my nose and wake me up. So I told each infantryman, I assigned them a wounded. Told them what to do, you know, put the sulfa, put the bandage. Give them this morphine. And I had 22 fellows treated like that. Then the planes came back and chased the Germans farther back, and so that they ended. I passed out, and someone dragged me into the corner. And left me alone. Because I was mad at them for putting me on the jeep. No one wanted to, you know, venture to touch me.
Well, sure enough the damn jeep shows up and I find myself back on the...the infantry left me alone, but the medics wouldn't let me alone. They wanted to get me to the rear. And (inaudible) me on it. I went about 50 yards about this time. And I thought of the German I promised to kill. And I rolled off the jeep. It was going about 30 miles an hour. And rolled off the jeep. And charged the building. I spotted it. And again, the adrenaline.
And I saw the 50 sticking out the window, or the German equivalent in millimeters. And I put my head down and ran past it. I could hear the GI’s saying Kelly’s flipped. The doctor's flipped, grab him and (inaudible). I put my head down, I ran through the door. And fell on the kitchen floor, saw the German behind the gun and leaped up on him. And proceeded to strangle him. And it felt so good squeezing away at him, and making his eyes bulge. And I said the one German in the war I’m going to kill, and I’m doing it. And I’m squeezing and squeezing, then he blopped blood out of his mouth. And the minute I saw blood then I was back to being a medic. I couldn't kill him and I was mad because he wasn't fighting me, you know. He was just letting me do it. And I took one quick look and he had bullet holes in him. (inaudible) the planes or our tanks.
I got up and the first thing I did I put my fist through the wall, and when I hit my left fist right through the wall. I was frustrated because I couldn't do what I had hoped to do. Cause he was the one that was bringing all the pressure on everything. Well, I grabbed him by the neck and started pulling him out the door. And two infantry fellows come running in, and they said stand aside doc. Well, they insulted me when he said that, so I went up and punched (inaudible) and I grabbed the second one and I punched him out the door. I grabbed the German by the neck and then I went and pulled him out. And I got to the door and I yelled at all these guys with their rifles, and I said if I can't kill him nobody's going to kill him.
So, well, back to the way I looked, pretty mean and pretty big, and pretty bloody and torn up. Like a mountain man, you know. I picked him up by myself, I didn't want help from anything. I put him on the jeep and strapped him down. On the other litter was another wounded man, and he proceeds to swing at the German now. So I went up and tapped him. He looked at me and I hit him jaw and knocked him out. Then I gave him a shot of morphine, and I told him don't tell, don't anybody tell him that I punched him when he wakes up. Because he wouldn't remember tomorrow anyhow what happened in his state. They evacuated the German, and the day ended, and the Captain come over and said what's your name. He inquired, are you the medic on the hill. And I said yes. And he said you did a hell of a job.
And that's the day, for that action, that they said I got 17, that seven blind men down and went back ten times and carried them in, you know. And over 300 yards up and 300 yards down. Said no man can do it. Well, they didn't know anything about adrenaline. Didn't know anything about the medical corps. Nor about medics. What their obligation is, you know. But out of this whole thing my feelings in the beginning about being a medic, what they are today, and what they are then, on April 5th...I realized the damn army was (inaudible), put me in the right spot. Even though I didn't want it.
And...you can say I’m an emotional person. I love people. And I find it hard to even kill the enemy who killed my friends. And I ended up for the rest of that war going around saving more Germans now because they were running all the time, and leaving their wounded. And I was the only one. The very next day, and I’ll end this story I guess.
Nine tanks attacked a town on the (inaudible). One tiger royal come out and took on our nine tanks and a tiger one. He blew up the first one, hit the second, hit the third. They all went in reverse with the infantry on top. Tankers forget about us riding on top when 88's are coming at them. They went back over the hill. And took cover. One tank was burning now. The other two hit tanks also got off the hill. So this one tank took on three tanks, three tank destroyers, and an assault gun.
I was digging my hole and the company commander of the infantry, and the platoon leader of the tanks come up and said they left a man on the tank, could I try to get him. So I said where's the tanker's medics, their job is the tanker. He wasn't, they didn't show up. They ride jeeps. I'm on the tank, so I’m closest. So I said what do you want me to do Captain. He says it's up to you doc. And I says I’ll take a chance.
Well, I get up and I ran out, zigzag, got to the tank. I did everything they taught me not to do in the medical corps. Splint them where they lie. I grabbed him by the neck and ran. Got 100 yards when he started to scream. Then I stopped, turned around, didn't see the German tank. Gave him morphine, and when I opened him up his stomach was coming out, so I got a big stomach compresses, pushed gut back in, bandaged him up. And then started to run again. Started to scream some more. And then I said, I can't leave him, should I leave him, I can't leave him. Then I heard the tank. I saw trees falling and the German tank came out. Tigerworld 72, the biggest (inaudible) you ever saw come out. And I ran another 50 yards dragging him behind. And then he started to scream unmercifully. And I said this is it.
So I turned my back on the tank and bent over him. I thought he had so much pain, that another shot of morphine even at this stage wouldn't hurt him. Then I worked on his stomach, and then I picked him up in the high arm carry and I started walking with him. And I started to pray every prayer I knew (inaudible). And as I turned and saw the German tank, he swung his 88 on me. And I turned my head, not to see it coming, and I walked. Turned my head and he swung his 88 on me and he kept coming out, coming out. And as I walked in I said to myself (inaudible) he's going to let me walk all the way, until I get on a crest, and then he's going to kill me.
So I got 100 yards from the crest and all of a sudden four litter bearers come running towards me to help. And I saw them and I said here we go. I said, yelled, get away from me there's a tank behind me. And when they saw the tank they disappeared. Well, I had just this little distance, and now I know he's going to kill me when I reach the top. So when I got to the top, and I couldn't walk another step carrying a man at high arm carry like that, because of his stomach wound. I couldn't put him in a fireman's carry. I figured he's not going to shoot me in the back, so I turned and faced the tank. And he pulled up past the burning tank now, which was also exploding. He swung his 88 down on me. The top of the tank opened up and I could see the black hat and the earphones. He put binoculars up, I said he's SS. And I said my last act of contrition. Figured here I go.
And all of a sudden the German puts his right hand up. He was looking at me with binoculars. Like he (inaudible) didn't want to see me go to pieces and he starts waving to me. And then he goes like this (salutes). Closed the tank. Then goes in reverse. And I stood there watching the 88 going back and forth. No longer afraid. I got the message. I realized that every time he swung his 88 he was looking down the scope. And he wanted to see what this medic was going to do with his wounded. Had I left the wounded man he would have killed me. In my mind I know this to be true. So, when I got to the top of the hill and turned and faced him, he realized that I knew I was going to die. And I was going to take it head on, not in the rear. And when I faced him I (inaudible) struck some good note. And whether or not I did it before, when I saved the man and wouldn't leave the man. But now when I face him with the wounded man, I got that salute. And I just turned and walked off the hill.
I had one thought that came out, and that the day before I didn't kill a German. Today a German didn't kill me. So religious wise I got to understand the great love, you know, with my friend Yarborough, giving up his life for a friend. In this case now, do unto others, you know, as you would have others do unto you. I didn't kill a German, so the German didn't kill me. So everything you learn in school about religion, infantry, combat brings it out. And in the end, being a medic, I had that satisfaction of having accomplished something. Gained a respect for all the fellows you serve with. The infantry guys that you fall in love with. And being called doc, and getting the combat benefit.
Combat medic (inaudible) took all my time in combat. The Medal of Honor was two hours in combat. It was harder to become a combat medic, than to get the Medal of Honor. I want to tell you something about Yarborough, what I learned from him. When I told you I didn't have much respect for him. And then he was the kid that volunteered to help me, and he was killed of course on the hill. And when this bad kid said to me, mother, mother, mother. And then, oh my God. He was thinking of his mother first, and then like he was about to say a prayer, or he was calling my God to please, you know, take care of me.
When I had passed out in the barn later on, after the whole action was over, and they started to do a head count, the Sergeant came up to me eventually, and said, doc, what happened to Yarborough and his friend. And I said they were both killed on the hill. He says, you know doc, when he ran off the hill. I said yeah, when he ran off the hill I thought he was being himself, just showing off. He says, well when he ran off the hill he ran back towards me, took his watch off, and threw it at me, and said here you no good holy Sergeant, with a sort of a smile. And he said if I don't come back, you can keep the watch. So when I reflected on what Yarborough did, I realized that he had, his number was up and his drinking now was part of when your number is up, what difference does it make. He had been hit twice. And infantry fellows get that feeling. Terrible feeling, you know, that you have.
But maybe Yarborough, if he was a bad kid and had lost some respect among the infantry fellows, you know, wanted to prove to everybody that he was basically a good guy. When he made that move, he like knew he was going to die. Or at least if he didn't, he would be doing the one thing that would get him back on the good graces, even if he'd be risking his life, you know, for a friend. He was acting as a medic would, who have to do it all the time without having to prove anything. It's part of their job, and it comes very natural to medics. But it's very hard for an infantryman, particularly a fellow as Yarborough was.
Well, the war ended and I was in for the Medal of Honor. And Memorial Day 1945 they had a military cemetery in Germany, the only one. And it was in Isenoct, which is now in the eastern zone. And I was in for the medal so they asked me to carry the colors for my division, the 7th Armored. And there was 60 platoons there, representing 60 divisions. It was quite a parade. And I spent hours going through the crosses, looking for the, at the name, they had a name printed crudely, and they had a dog tag. And I found Yarborough. And I can't even remember his first name, I didn't know him that well. And I said well he's here, you know. And I wasn't too emotional about it. I knew he was buried now, and that was the end of it.
But I thought of Yarborough so much. And November 11, '45 I lead a parade in Brooklyn, we ended up in (inaudible). I never made a speech in high school, and now I’m in front of 50,000 people, the end of the parade, everybody around, politicians are speaking. They played taps. Now I heard taps the first time since Memorial Day '45. And boy it really penetrated me. So I heard someone say now we'll hear from Tom Kelly, Brooklyn’s only Medal of Honor recipient.
Well, they stuck me up in front of a mike with 50,000 people. High school kid that never made a, appeared in any program. And the thought that came to me that just came right out, I said I want to tell you about my friends.... And I started to, I welled up, and I started to cry. And there was an absolute silence in the audience. And I got weak in the knees and I fell over. I collapsed. And I never felt like this during the war. And now the war's over, and this is the way I’m feeling.
Well, they carried me off the stage and the rain started to come down. It poured down, and the audience all disappeared. No one followed me. Well, the next day there was a headline in the paper all about the ceremony, well it was lots of headlines about the first Veterans Day. Was then Armistice Day after the war. And now it's Armistice Day again I understand. And they said about all the different ceremonies and all the politicians. But they said over in Brooklyn there was a parade that ended up with 50,000 people. And they dragged in front of a mike the young Sergeant back from the war. And all he could say was, I want to tell you about my friends. He welled up and he cried and he fainted. And they carried him off the stage. The entire audience welled up and started to cry. And then even the skies wept. It poured. And that's the way the guy ended his story.
So the caption in that was, even the skies wept. They compared me to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address. I said seven words and everybody understood what I was talking about with my seven words. Well, I couldn't face an audience after that. I was afraid people from there were going to ask me what happened during the war. I didn't want to tell people about what went on. I got used to it. And now it came back and I try to avoid.
So I went to college and law school. And, you know, became a little more philosophical. And I relived every night, every step I made. So I never forgot the war till today. I could remember every step. Over the 300 yard run, ten times up and down. And along with the seven blinded. I finally reached a point where I start to tell the story, and then I realize that when I tell my story I’m really speaking about Yarborough. Because if he epitomized...if I was being given the Medal of Honor for performing above and beyond, it was my job. And I didn't expect such a high honor for doing my job. But an infantryman knew he is not supposed to do that kind of performance. And under the circumstances, in my mind, he knew he was going to die. Yet he did it, and he did it in front of all his friends. To prove to them something, that he was a decent guy.
Well, I knew he was decent by what he said, you know, when he died. Well, I had to live with Yarborough for a long time. Even today. When I got to Arlington Cemetery, in 1958 they dedicated the Tomb of the Unknown, again for the World War II and Korean unknown soldiers. And I was in line right behind Eisenhower, as an honorary pallbearer, along with all other Medal of Honor recipients. And I saw Ike place the Medal of Honor on a crypt of the World War II, and the Korean war unknown. And I looked at the tomb in front of me, and it said here lies another glorious soldier, known but to god. And I said, in my mind I know the soldier. In my mind it was like Yarborough. And I even went behind. I said he's getting recognized...in my mind he was getting his Medal of Honor. For what he did, for what I saw he did and very few other people saw it. But just like God observes the greatest deeds. And so many people perform similar deeds.
So whenever I try to talk to people I say if you ever visit Arlington see that tomb. If you ever lost a brother or father or sister or anyone in the war, any level of acquaintanceship, particularly children who lose fathers or wives who lose husbands, or mothers who lose sons. Look upon that tomb as, if your son died in the service, he could be the one that performed that deed deserving the Medal of Honor. And I related that in my love now for the medical corps, about those unsung heroes that performed and can perform well with a rifle which they're given today.
But in my war they performed without weapons. They were selfless in what they did. They did it with a knowledge that they could die any day. But they did it every day. They have raised themselves up above the infantry, to the point that the infantry looked at them as though they had the right of the general...they deserved the recognition. They deserve the praise, cause everyday they were performing above and beyond the call of duty. And only by (inaudible) I feel bad that I got the Medal of Honor and didn't die. Maybe if I could look back, if I was dead, then I could say to myself I deserved it because at least I died for it. But I feel so bad about all the fellows that performed all those deeds deserving the Medal of Honor, who were never seen. And the last guy you hardly ever see perform is the medic, because he goes to places where nobody else will go.
When infantry takes cover and he hears the word medic, and out of this crowd of GI’s one man stands up. And he's got four red crosses and he charges him. I mean what he is doing right there is deserving of the recognition. But for some reason they don't get the medals that they should get. People don't see them. They hardly want to talk about what they did. Because they feel guilty themselves that they didn't go it. And in my own mind, I think they don't, they lose that recognition that they're deserving of. They should be walked around with ribbons out to here. Cause everyday that goes...you know what happens? They become so good and so brave and so ordinary, in doing things above and beyond, that they say, that's standard for a medic.
So, when the Combat Infantry Badge came out I felt bad that they had something and the guys that were saving them, taking care, one man taking care of 60. It wasn't 60 taking care of one. It was one man, taking care of those 60 infantrymen. And being their father, their brother, their advisor. But in the end, they were the saviors of these 60 men. So, I have this regard for the medics, and these tears that I pour out is really my deep feeling. Sort of my frustration, that they don't get that recognition.
I know you have a new Medical Regiment now formed. I know you're trying to build up a history and an espirit de corps which they lacked for many years. You want...I think they should get that recognition that they so deserve. I know the Marine Corps looks upon their corpsmen as something special. And I would want the United States Army, every man in it, to look upon that combat medic as the most special person that the rest of the war, the rest (inaudible), this is the man you got to know, this is the man that's going to save your life. So look up to him, and respect him.
And the day they call you doc, the day you perform your first deed in combat, you know you've earned a place. If you never get a medal, and the infantry starts calling you doc, hey doc. You got it made. Cause at least you've proved to yourself that you're a man. And you've proved too, for all those other people, that you're a super man. I mean you'll get strength, unbelievable strength, because you have a greater cause. The war doesn't mean anything. The overall, what's going on every place, saving the country has nothing to do with the immediacy of a Medal of Honor man, the medic, doing what he has to do. But take that medic deserving of the Medal of Honor, the ones that don't get recognized, who every single day in combat...they're just so outstanding.
Well, how you can elevate a man, how you can make, speak of a man who is in the corps, and put him on a plane equal, instead of higher, I would maybe make an equation by saying they're doing God's work. And their ultimate reward may be in whatever God can do for them. And it's my way of looking at them. I think the more they save, the more help they get from the lord, the better they become as medics. In the end I hope, in my case, and all other medics I know hope this, in eternal reward somewhere. Or at least trying to do the best we can, at the time. And all new medics say maybe I won't perform when I, when the time comes. But never think you can't do something until the time comes, and you'll get some strength, you'll find strength that you don't have. A little guy picking up big guys. Slow runners becoming fast runners. And a man who thinks himself a coward, and weak, becomes the man that goes forward, the man that leads, and the man that saves.
So, I have great admiration today for the kids who are in the medical corps, and all the movies I’ve seen on, seen regarding Vietnam. You can always spot that Red Cross in the middle of the action. And you know that those fellows are depending on him. So, I wish for the corps, and all these kids that are in training today, to come out maybe feeling like I did. I think I did the best I could. And thank god I got recognized. But if I just got that Combat Medic Badge, that for me was recognition enough.