Bill Dohl, Deadeye
This Article was published in the Herald Times, written by AbbyWeingarten, and permission was given to republish here by Bill Dohl.
Bill Dohl proved his youthful adventurousness during World War II when he opted out of the Army Air Corps and volunteered for the infantry. Born in Shickshinny, Pa., Dohl enlisted in 1942 at age 18 and eventually served in Guam and Guadalcanal. He trained as an aircraft engine mechanic before transferring to the Army and joining the 96th Infantry Division. Now 86 and a retired general manager for the European operation of Sperry Rand, Dohl lives in Venice with Doris, his wife of 59 years.

'We landed at Leyte Island on Oct. 20, 1944. We fought that battle, slept in muddy foxholes, walked through swamps and mud, and the conditions were unbelievable. And we didn't get a chance to get a bath or a change of clothes until Christmas Day. That's when the island was declared secure.

In those two months, we moved day by day. We had a lot of casualties. We didn't have a front-line infantry, because the land was so flat and full of rice paddies. We didn't have any chance of using tanks because they couldn't get through the mud and rice. Most of our supplies were hand-carried.

So, two days before Christmas, the Japanese dropped a bunch of paratroopers near the air base, and we were called up to protect the Fifth Air Corps. Well, we didn't get there. We had to dig in for the night.

We were dug in along the muddy road and we had one of the loudest thunderstorms I'd ever heard. Thunderstorms in the jungle are something else. It poured down rain. We were sleeping five of us in this foxhole. We were not more than 50 yards from where the Japanese were running up and down.

The hole was big enough for three people to lay down and two people to be on guard. I never missed my sleep. We had just a tarp over us so our hole wouldn't fill up with water Three Japanese walked up so close to our foxhole that, if they'd taken one more step, they would have fallen right onto us. But, the lightning struck and our men on guard saw the Japanese in the light. The lightning saved us. They shot them. I woke up, turned around, and one of them fell in right where I was.

We didn't sleep the rest of the night. Every time the lightning would flash, I'd look out of the foxhole.

Then, I heard a noise. I was watching very carefully, and when the lightning struck again, there was a Japanese soldier who had a hand grenade and was ready to toss it. All he would have had to do was toss it 3 feet and it would have gone right into the hole.

I shot him with a .45 and got through the night.

We left in March and headed toward Okinawa.

We landed in Okinawa, and there was nobody protecting the beachhead. The idea was, the enemies were going to let us get onshore and the kamikazes were supposed to come in and capture us all.

For the first week on Okinawa, we were getting organized and there was practically no combat. I remember the first day of combat; we were going through a village and a sniper shot one of our men.

We lost so many men and two of our generals. I was never injured, but I was exposed to all kinds of shooting and artillery. I had amoebic dysentery and malaria, but it never put me out."



This Article was published in the Herald Times and permission was given to republish here by Bill Dohl.

Abby Weingarten may be contacted via e-mail at AbbyWeingarten@gmail.com.