Phone Call Between Orvel Johnson and Fred Schmidt
Just minutes ago I signed off on a very interesting telephone call. Fred called and we visited for over a half hour. Like the miracle medicine that is supposed to make you feel good right away. Fred wanted to thank me for the years he received the newsletter and complimented me for providing it for the benefit of all the members of C Company.
Then we got into experiences we both shared from the loss of best friends in the company to poor food and dirty dungarees that could stand on their own. The Japanese radioman in the chimney on Saipan and enemy snipers in the trees who shot down at us until we realized where the shots were coming from, then we had the best fun in combat, shooting the enemy who had no cover and when hit they fell to the end of their life line which of course was a bad idea.
Fred stated he read the names of C Company’s KIAs in the newsletter and seeing Ralph Linaweaver’s name among the long list of names brought back the horrible memory of the death of his best friend. Fred and Ralph met at Camp Pendleton and were in the same squad. The 2 of them became buddies immediately while training at Pendleton and continued to the Marshalls, Maui and Saipan. Upon landing on Saipan, the enemy artillery was having a field day, locking unto the various landing craft and firing aerial exploding shells and also shells that exploded on contact. Through the exploding shells smoke and fire, snipers were also busy picking off Marines from a distance. Struggling to get out, of the Amtrac, Ralph was hit by a sniper’s bullet and fell back into the tank screaming to Fred that he was dying and Fred just outside of the Amtrac with bullets and shrapnel whizzing all around and an artillery shell exploded in the Amtrac. Ralph was gone and Fred was alone and fearful he would be next and for a time foolishly threw himself into the horrible slaughter without caring. This experience happened within the blink of an eye. Sixty nine years later, and Fred still has not gotten over the loss of his friend, Ralph. This is the only time I heard the true story of the death of Ralph, who was right there through it all.
Fred had his 90th birthday this past February and tells me he is in excellent health, taking a mile walk first thing of the day and on some days does it again in the afternoon. His eyes are pretty bad but he can still drive some 60 miles every day to and from work. Yes he has a job at the age of 90.
On a good day I enjoy working in my garden for a couple hours and drive my Toyota Prius within the town limits, not on the highway. My walks are much shorter than Fred’s but I am thankful for the energy I have.
I had to tell you about my telephone call from Fred.
Orv – 2013 Jun 4