Ernie Crowther: 2nd Batallion Medics - 354th Infantry

I haven't told this story because I neither remembered exactly where the event took place nor remembered the names of the Medics who went with me. However, at the Tacoma reunion I discussed it with Wally Brake, officer from E Co who suggested the place could have been Friedrichroda.

In any event it was a similar, a modern, up-to-date looking city in a large valley. We moved quite rapidly those days and on this particular day, we arrived at a city around noon and set up our Aid Station just inside the city limits. There was still some small arms fire in the distance but not a lot. Later in the afternoon we noticed a hospital upon the hillside. We were curious as to whether there might be some American casualties in it, so a couple of station medics, the jeep driver, (Howard Mayer) and I cautiously drove up to the hospital. We were fully aware that the city had very recently been taken and that there could be snipers around who didn't always respect our Red Cross emblem.

A short distance from the hospital, we saw a dead SS trooper on a sidewalk propped up against an iron fence. We entered the hospital and asked the nurses at the reception desk if there were any American casualties being treated there. They answered, "Yes," and took us to that ward. There were five Americans, as I recall. Needless to say, they were extremely happy to see us. It's hard to fully describe the moment except to say it was a very emotional, excitable occasion and very gratifying for us which made us feel real proud. All were enlisted men except for one who was a 1st Artillery forward observer. None of the men were from the 89th. In fact, two were from Allied Forces. All but the Lieutenant had recovered from their wounds. The nurses told us of one soldier who had received a severe head wound, had been operated on by a German surgeon and was in intensive care in critical condition.

Those on the ward, except for the Lieutenant were to be transported by jeep to our Aid Station. I talked with the Lieutenant who had sustained a nasty abdominal wound which still was being drained. I told him we would have an ambulance come to get him when one showed up at our station. He absolutely refused to go that route and told the nurse to get his clothes. I couldn't talk him out of it. We got some of his clothes on him and wheeled him out to the jeep, drain tube still hanging from his side. Fortunately, when we got to the Aid Station the ambulance had arrived so he and the others were quickly evacuated to the rear.

The next day we went back to the hospital to follow-up on the soldier who had brain surgery. He definitely couldn't be moved so we relayed information about him to rear echelon medics. On our way out of the hospital the nurse at the reception desk handed me a Masonic ring which they (the nurses) had removed from the Lieutenant's finger when he was brought in. They said if the SS had seen it they would likely have cut off the finger, or more likely his whole hand. The German nurses, at least, had some compassion.

I apologize for the indefiniteness as to places, names, outfits, etc., but the story is factual. If any Medics who were involved read this they might be able to fill in the blanks. Captain George Michaelson was Battalion Surgeon at the time and Staff Sergeant Nick Perata was enlisted man in charge. Incidentally, the dead SS trooper was still leaning against the fence when we left the hospital the second day. I wonder why he hadn't been picked up?