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All the same, after days of labor with a hammer, pliers, guitar wire, rifle oil and corrugated iron, Verne Mabry and Hendrickson managed to condense the seven semi-wrecks into three workable machines by a magic system of inter-changing parts. He came to my niche at the edge of a palm plantation and for five minutes he just stared. - Transcripts

Then, all of a sudden, he blurted: "I want to give you a story to put in that book. His name is Wilmer Stokes. He was a sergeant. His home? In the fight for Fort McKinley their battalion fought over open, sunbaked country covered with grass and bushes, and crisscrossed by many shallow gullies. The Japs, naval troops from Manila, fought from many concrete tunnels and underground pillboxes.

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There was no shade above ground. Many Americans collapsed, overwhelmed by heat. Those still fit were parched and exhausted. Canteens were empty. Our infantry worked through minefields that had been covered with barbed wire. Japanese machineguns were trained on the wire barricades. Japanese mortar shells had set fire to grass and bushes. There was no digging-in, no chance to halt and rest. In this setting Sergeant Wilmer E. Stokes was confronted with the problem of tackling a cave-and-trench fortress that defied direct fire from his tommygun.

He exchanged his sub-machine-gun for a flame-thrower. But he soon found that he could not tackle the holed-up Japs from open ground. The entrances to their underground strongpoint opened upon deep trenches. It was necessary to enter the trenches to reach the Japs. Wilmer Stokes jumped into a trench and crushed a Jap s head with his boots.

Then he rushed to the mouth of the cave and filled the cave with liquid fire. When his flame-thrower was exhausted, he climbed out of the trench and watched. Screams of pain came from the cave. But the Jap guns were still firing. Sergeant Stokes grasped a second flame-thrower.

Again he sprang into the trench and spurted its contents into the cave in a flaming horizontal geyser. He did the same thing a third time. Then he tossed the flame-thrower aside. He picked up his sub-machinegun and sprang back into the trench and muscled into the cave, his gun blazing. So I took a chance and went inside myself.

There was a lot of Japs in that cave.

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They were all dead. They captured the swimmer and brought him to an American officer for questioning. The prisoner said that there were more than a thousand Japanese in the American trap. He also said that the Japanese were willing to surrender—if given a chance.

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A mass surrender in battle would he the most freakish event of a freakish kind of war. The American commanders looked around for someone willing to carry a capitulation offer into the Japanese lines.

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A brave man volunteered. He was a middle-aged guerilla who wore a straw hat and rode astride a skinny pony. He was given a white flag and a message. The message said that the Americans would accept a surrender if the Japanese would emerge without weapons, in single file, and with their hands raised high. Field glasses traced his progress from the American side. The guerrilla reached the enemy outposts and stopped. He was directed into a large clump of bamboo shielded by a rise of ground.

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Minutes passed. Everybody was tense. There was a crackling of rifle fire within the Japanese positions. Men settled behind their guns. They saw the rider-less pony gallop out of the bamboo. There were growls, "The goddamn, murdering. Then, out of the bamboo sauntered the Filipino. He waved his white flag. He retrieved his mount and rode back to the American lines. Just before he reached safety an enemy sentry fired. The shot went wild. The messenger brought word that the Japanese commander asked for more time.

The Americans waited an hour. It was 11 a. They waited until noon. No unarmed men filed out of the grass and bamboo trap. At this point my informant rubbed his chin and grinned. He looked at me out of a weary, yellow young face and his blue eyes shone. Troops took the long, dusty ride to the beach, then were transported to their ships by small boats.

The bay was choppy because of the typhoon season in the north, and many men were violently seasick. Troops were not excited regarding the movement. He did a job, in his own quaint and peaceful way, that saved many lives and helped to make the launching of the Philippines campaign a thundering success. The Woodcarver is squat. Black curls protrude from under his fatigue cap. He looks like a wandering Levantine artist and to war he refers as "inglorious trouble.

The son of an Italian father and a Tunisian mother, Carmelo was born in Brooklyn, but his family moved to Casablanca, Africa, before he was three years old, where he grew up speaking Spanish, French, Italian and Arabic, but not a word of English. His early living he earned as a carpenter in North African harbor towns. He disliked the drudgery of hard labor. They told me that I could make things, and more things can be shaped out of wood than fences. My hands like the feel of clay. I swore I should become a woodcarver, a sculptor!

He modeled in clay, then finished his work in wood. He never married. At the urging of an aunt he came to America. For five days, broke and hungry, he searched for his aunt. He could not find her. What should he do? On March 5, , he joined the Army of the United States as a volunteer. He was assigned to the 24th Division and fought as a machine-gunner in the leprous wilderness of New Guinea, unhappily but well. And then came the day on which the Twenty-Fourth was ordered to tighten its belt for the biggest operation in its history.

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The destination was "Top Secret. With the rest, Carmelo asked, "Where are we going? In the regiments, the battalions, the companies, in the platoons and squads men struck their tents and packed. They checked their weapons and hauled ammunition. Ended were the sweat-stained weeks of waiting, of mopping up the jungles, of digging drainage ditches and standing guard. The men shouted and were alert. They folded their cots and helped the cooks pack pots and pans, and in huge bonfires they burned the refuse that accumulates where masses of men have camped for weeks.

The roadsides were lined with barracks bags; the men had stripped themselves to mess-kit, spoon, jungle knife, poncho, razor, rations, a shovel and their weapons. Someone chanted, "Nobody loves New Guinea.

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Day and night the trucks rumbled to the beaches. Transports hovered offshore.