Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Knowing that this Wednesday was Veteran's Day got me thinking about my father's service in WWII. Having served in the 1st Battalion, 106th Infantry in the Western Pacific Theater, he participated in the Battle of Saipan. I googled some sites online to find out more about the battle, and actually discovered some film on You Tube showing some of the fighting. As with all war footage, the scenes were horrific. I also found a site that described some of the battle:
The 106th was heavily involved in the fighting for Saipan's dominant terrain feature; a 1,554-foot mountain called Mount Tapotchau. The 106th initially fought along a ridgeline near the mountain's base and in an open valley at the base of the ridgeline, two terrain features that were grimly dubbed Purple Heart Ridge and Death Valley. The 106th was instrumental in repelling the second fnad final Japanese counterattack.
One of the most lamentable events of the battle for Saipan involved the mass suicide of hundreds of families, many of whom jumped to their deaths from the high cliffs at the island's northernmost point. This tragic event could not be stopped, despite efforts by Americans and indigenous Saipanese using loudspeakers to try to convince the Japanese that surrender would be shameless and harmless.
Reading this information gave me some insight into what my father must have seen. He talked little about it during his lifetime, and today I'll try not to dwell on the horrors he witnessed, but just be proud of the contribution he made to his country during his four years in the Army in WWII.