The experience, typical of many for the medical aid men who evacuate and care for wounded infantry-men in the Pacific, was told by the 39-year-old soldier in an interview at the U.S. West Coast port as he returned from more than two and half years service with the 25th infantry (Tropic Lightning) Division.
He worked with one of the division's regimental combat teams on Guadalcanal, on New Georgia where he was awarded the Bronze Star for heroic achievement, and for several months on Luzon.
That morning, when he ran his ambulance into a Jap road block before he discovered it, was during the fighting for Balete Pass into the Cagayan Valley where last enemy troops on Luzon were retreating.
"When I discovered the direction of the fire," he related, "I swung the ambulance around and backed off the road, down a hill on the other side. There was another man along and he and I got out the four men on litters and placed them on the ground. I had to give one of the men blood plasma because I was not going to be able to get him back to the aid station quick enough. He forgave me, I hope, for the way I jabbed that needle into him. A tank finally got us out of that. There were Japs around there blown all to pieces when the tank gun got through."
Some of the infantry's medics work alongside the frontline riflemen, and the fiercer the battle becomes the closer moves a casualty-collecting company such as the one to which Pfc. Fetter was assigned.
He and his commanding officer, taking care of 13 wounded Doughboys and protected by two companies of riflemen, were surrounded by Japs for 18 hours in the action for which he received the Bronze Star Medal. That was on New Georgia, where enemy air raids were frequent and American soldiers were becoming jungle experts.
"Our objective was a beach," Pfc. Fetters said, "but we were catching a lot of Japs as they fell back from Munda airfield, which the 43rd Di-_________ [line illegible].
Another regiment, which was short on medics, needed some help that day and the captain and I were giving it to them. When the Japs broke through and cut us off, we got 13 casualties into a ration dump and piled up cases to make a kind of fort. Two companies of riflemen threw up a defense around us. It was 18 hours before we were rescued.
The medical officer, Captain (now major) Louis Kreindler of 710 Greenwood Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in that busy 18 hours, he said.
A former tinner, working with his father in their tin shop, Pfc. Fetters entered the service in April 1942. He received his basic training at the Medical Replacement Training Center, Camp Joseph T. Robinson, Arkansas.
He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. A.J. Fetters, of Lowell.
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