Monday, November 17, 2008
TWO MARINE HEROES FROM SCHUYLKILL COUNTY
TWO MARINES FROM SCHUYLKILL COUNTY
Marines Fighting In Belleau Wood
HE SLEEPS WHERE ROLLS THE MARNE
There were letters written during the Civil War that live unto this day. This letter written by Lieutenant Charles H. Ulmer of Pottsville, to his parents just before he went into the action in which he was mortally wounded, will live forever because of its simple beauty and depth of expression, because it is prophetic and because it breathes of a splendid heroism, a heroism that is wonderful and gripping because of the sublimity of its spirit of sacrifice.
This is a copy of Lieutenant Charles Ulmer’s last letter to his parents.
Beautiful June is here; what will it bring? I am going into line again and never felt happier over anything in my life. So far, I have been miraculously untouched, and it is surprising how much steel can pass you and yet leave you untouched. Something tells me I am going to have a chance this time. France has lost or sent all the young men, and only the aged an infirm remain, and the helpless and grief stricken women and children. If you could only see! Always so willing and ready to do anything to help. Sometimes I am so tired and weary that I stumble, and have to laugh at myself, but I am so thankful and glad of the chance to stand between these and the terrible enemy. Our glorious brave boys of German descent are out to fight down the wrong principles instilled for generations into the people; we shall live forever in the result of this war. The high cost of war has gone up in lives as well as money, but the higher price, the more valuable the purchase.
During the Fiercely fought battle of Belleau Wood on June 6th 1918, Lieutenant Charles H. Ulmer and a Lieutenant Donnelly of the 80th company, 6th Marines volunteered to take an important German machine gun nest near the edge of the woods which was raking the ranks of the Marines with heavy machine gun fire.
The men were advancing under temporary cover of and dodging from shell hole to shell hole and obstructions to stumps and everything that would afford a moment’s protection from the machine gun bullets, when a shrapnel shell fired by the Germans struck a tree a directly overhead of the men and riddled them with pieces of hot metal. Donnelly was wounded and while the wound was being dressed by Ulmer and another Marine another German shell suddenly struck nearby and killed Donnelly outright. Lieutenant Ulmer was so terribly wounded, he could only last for a few hours, and he died the next day.
He was buried in the courtyard of a little chateau overlooking the Marne where the hardest fighting took place, and won the day for America. Of the 250 men in Ulmer’s command only 40 were left on October 1st 1918 and all the officers were either killed or missing.
Charles Ulmer Marine
Croix de Guerre
Lieutenant Charles H. Ulmer 2nd Lieutenant
80th company, 6th Regiment U.S.M.C. 2nd Division
French Croix de Guerre with palm.
Order no. 10,965 “D”
October 28, 1918
“Rejoining his unit on the front, he immediately led his platoon with bravery
And initiative and displayed great qualities as a leader until he was
SHENANDOAH MARINE A TRUE HERO
CORPORAL ANTHONY P. DAMATO
HE LAID ON A HAND GRENADE TOSSED INTO A FOX HOLE TO PROTECT HIS BUDDIES.
The Following story was written by T/S William K. Terry, Youngstown Ohio, a Marine Corps Combat Correspondent. In the Pottsville Journal March 22, 1944.
Eniwetok Atoll, Marshall Islands… A Marine Corporal lay on a Jap hand grenade to give his life to save two buddies early one Sunday morning when Japs counter attacked with hand grenades, mortars, and rifle fire on Engebi Island.
The Corporal was Anthony P. Damato of 601 W. Penn St. Shenandoah, Pa. a truck driver before he joined the Marines. He would have been 22 in March.
“The Japs had thrown in two other grenades in foxholes where Corp. Damato and two buddies were set up for the night, “ an officer explained. “The Marines threw out the first two. Then the Japs got wise and threw in a grenade after holding it for a few seconds. The corporal saw he couldn’t throw it back in time, so he lay on it. This saved the lives of his buddies.”
The Corporal’s watch was stopped at 4:07 A.M. when the grenade went off. “He was one of the best men I had,” 2nd Lt. Richard Pfhul said. “I took him with me whenever I went. He was one of the Marines who spearheaded the invasion of North Africa and he trained the Seabees of our battalion.”
Cpl. Damato was an assistant squad leader of a crack outfit in the 22nd Marines which took the objective on Engebi Island in an hour and fifteen minutes.
His outfit met and repulsed the strongest Jap counterattacks on the island. “None of us slept a wink either the first or second nights on the Island.” The Lieutenant continued. “One of my men in an advanced position had only his knife and two hand grenades. His weapon had jammed, but he refused to fall back during the night assault.
“Most of our casualties came at night. We took the objective without suffering any casualties.
“We got 12 Japs for one Marine the second night we spent on Engebi,” he continued. “They would drag their dead back with them and we had a hard time finding them in the morning.
“One of my sergeants was hit in the arm. He wouldn’t go back to the battalion aid station until he was ordered to.
“At one time during the invasion day we shot at Japs like they were targets in a shooting gallery. We had advanced along the left flank of another battalion and then shoved the Japs back toward us making them excellent targets for all.
“two of my men had their helmets shot apart by rifle fire and mortar fragments, but they were not hurt. “ he continued.
“The Jap snipers gave us a lot of trouble when they climber in trees on that part of the Island which was wooded the thickest.
“One of my boys knocked off a Jap officer who was dressed in full regalia. He was hiding under a palm fronds, and the Marine saw his leg sticking out.
Lt. Pfuhl said Japs even used some Marine hand grenades which they either found or stole.
“They threw grenades at us for 15 minutes the second night. Then they walked up to our foxholes, threw their hands in the air and said,” So solly”. They turned to walk away and we let them have it.
The same night, he added a Jap pedaled a bicycle along the runway on Engebi to be killed by the Marines.
“The most welcome sight we saw was daybreak.” He said. Night fighting was the worst. We could dig them out of their holes during the day.”
Note: Corporal Anthony Damato’s MOH
Written by Jay Zane
When the destroyer USS DAMATO slid down the ways of the Bethlehem Steel
Company's yards at Staten Island on November 21, 1945, its name reflected
one of the most heroic acts of any Schuylkill County winner of the
Congressional Medal of Honor.
Corporal Anthony P. Damato, 21, of Shenandoah, died in a foxhole on Engibi
Island in the Marshalls Group in the SOuth Pacific on the night of Feb. 19,
1944, by throwing himself upon a Japanese-tossed hand grenade to save the
lives of two comrades.
But when his mother, Mrs. Frances Damato, smashed the traditional bottle
of champagne over the bow of the destroyer bearing her son's name, she was
already carrying the burder of the loss of another son, Captain Neil J.
Damato, an Air Force bombardier, who had been missing in action since
Neil had already been in the service when younger brother, Anthony,
enlisted in the Marines a month and a day after Pearl Harbor.
Corporal Damato's story of heroism is told graphically in the Citation:
"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above
and beyond the call of duty while serving with an assault company of the
Second Battalion, 22nd Marines, Fifth Amphibious COrps, in action against
the enemy Japanese forces on Engibi Island, Eniwetok Atoll, Marshall
Islands, on the night of Feb. 19-20, 1944.
Highly vulnerable to sudden attack by small fanatical groups of Japanese
still at large despite the efficient and determined efforts of our forces
to clear the area, Corporal Damato lay with two comrades in a large foxhole
in his company's defense perimeter which had dangerously thinned by the
forced withdrawal of nearly half of the available men.
When one of the enemy approached the foxhole undetected and threw in a
hand grenade, Corporal Damato desperately groped for it in the darkness.
Realizing the imminent peril to all three and fully aware of the
consequences of his act, he unhesitantly flung himself on the grenade and,
although instantly killed as his body absorbed the explosion, saved the
lives of his two companions.
Corporal Damato's splendid intiative, fearless conduct adn valiant
sacrifice reflect great credit upon himself and the US Naval Service. He
gallantly gave his life for his comrades."
Damato was the 26th member of the Marine Corps to recieve the
Congressional Medal of Honor in World War II and the ninth enlisted man,
only two of which were alive at the time of the award of honor to him. He
became Shenandoah's 23rd Gold Star of World War II.
He was pronounced by his immediate commanding officer, Lt. Richard M.
Pfuhl, "the best Marine in my outfit."
In making the supreme sacrifice he saved the lives of his two buddies,
Corporal Herman F. Dohms, Jr. and Pfc. George W. Gale. It was reported
that the Japanese soldier who threw the grenade died immediately at the
hands of a US Marine.
Mrs. Damato's health did not permit her to receive her son's award from
the President of the United States personally. The presentation was made
April 9, 1945, in the Lincoln School Building, Shenandoah, by Brigadier
General Maurice C. Gregory, USMC, acting for the President. Seven months
and twelve days lateer the USS DAMATO slid down the ways at Staten Island
to further memorialize this Schuylkill Conty hero.