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"We lost more to sickness than Japanese bullets on Leyte." (Audio Interview, 15:44)

   Richard Wendell Johnson
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War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Army
Unit: 96th Division, 383rd Regiment, I Company
Service Location: Leyte Island (Philippines); Okinawa Island (Ryukyu Islands)
Rank: Staff Sergeant
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Enemy soldiers were not the only cause for concern on the battlefield. Disease, adverse conditions, and lack of supplies took vast tolls on American servicemen fighting in the Philippines. After landing on Leyte on October 20, 1944, Army Staff Sergeant Ralph Wendell Johnson and his company became isolated from the supply ships. They existed on coconuts, wild corn, and sugarcane; he lost thirty pounds in two weeks. Such conditions also led to ingenious survival strategies: his squad used small explosives to boil corn and C-rations in the wet and muddy foxholes. For his twenty-first birthday, his buddies treated him to a feast of roasted wild pig.

Interview (Audio)
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 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (3 items)
Ways of coping with lack of supplies; different foods eaten. (03:35) Adverse conditions such as mud and leeches; presence of sickness; contracting bronchitis and yellow jaundice. (03:32) Roasting wild pigs for his twenty-first birthday. (00:51)

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  October 26, 2011
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