Saturday, November 29, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

US survivors of WWII battle recall Saipan attack

Wilfred Mailloux,John Sidur,

This photo provided by Bob Dial shows World War II veterans Wilfred "Spike" Mailloux, left, and John Sidur, both of Cohoes, N.Y., at a presentation on the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Saipan at the New York State Military Museum on June 7, 2014, in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Both served on Saipan with the U.S. Army’s 27th Infantry Division, 105th Infantry Regiment. The Army’s 27th Infantry Division bore the brunt of Japan’s largest mass suicide attack, launched before dawn on July 7, 1944, on the island of Saipan. The division’s 105th Regiment saw more than 400 killed and 500 wounded during the attack by more than 3,000 Japanese soldiers and sailors. The 27th was a former New York National Guard unit that still had many New Yorkers among its ranks when it landed on Saipan after the U.S. Marines made the initial beach assault on June 15, 1944. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Bob Dial)

By
From page A1 | July 07, 2014 |

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Even after seven decades, Wilfred “Spike” Mailloux won’t talk about surviving a bloody World War II battle unless longtime friend John Sidur is by his side.

It was Sidur who found the severely wounded Mailloux hours after both survived Japan’s largest mass suicide attack in the Pacific. The pre-dawn assault launched 70 years ago Monday on the Japan-held island of Saipan nearly wiped out two former New York National Guard battalions fighting alongside U.S. Marines.

“He found me in the mud,” Mailloux recounted during a visit to the New York State Military Museum to attend a presentation on the battle’s 70th anniversary.

Mailloux and Sidur are among the dwindling ranks of WWII veterans of the Army’s 27th Infantry Division, which endured some of the bloodiest fighting in the Pacific, only to have its reputation besmirched by a volatile Marine general in one of the war’s biggest controversies.

In the Mariana Islands, 1,400 miles south of Tokyo, Saipan was sought by the Americans as a base for bombing raids against Japan. U.S. forces landed on Saipan on June 15, 1944, with two Marine divisions, the 2nd and the 4th, making the initial beach assaults and losing some 2,000 men on the first day alone.

A few days later, the inexperienced 27th Division joined the fight. A New York National Guard outfit activated in October 1940, the “Appleknockers” still retained a sizable Empire State contingent among its ranks after two years of garrison duty in Hawaii.

The commander of the ground forces at Saipan was Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Holland M. Smith, dubbed “Howling Mad” for his volcanic temper.

A week into the battle, Smith relieved the 27th’s commander, Maj. Gen. Ralph Smith (no relation), after the division lagged behind the Marine units operating on its flanks. The Marine commander not only blasted the 27th’s leadership, but he also openly criticized its soldiers in front of war correspondents, who later reported on the rift that became known as “Smith vs. Smith.”

Arthur Robinson, 92, of Saratoga Springs knew nothing of the Army versus Marine flap brewing on Saipan. As an infantryman in the 27th’s 105th Infantry Regiment, he was concentrating on staying alive. On July 3, he was wounded in both thighs by machine gun fire. Robinson endured a 10-mile ride in a Jeep to a field hospital, with the driver opting to travel on railroad tracks because the road was mined.

On July 7, after three weeks of fighting, two battalions of the 105th Regiment were positioned across a plain along Saipan’s western shore. With the island’s 30,000 defenders down to a few thousand starving, ill-equipped soldiers and sailors, Japanese commanders ordered one last charge.

The battalions’ 1,100 soldiers bore the brunt of what became known as the banzai attack. U.S. military officials later said 3,000 Japanese charged the American lines, though others put the estimate closer to 5,000. Many of the attackers were armed with samurai swords and bayonets tied to poles.

“I was scared as hell,” said Mailloux, then a 20-year-old corporal from Cohoes, a mill town north of Albany. “When you hear that screaming – ‘banzai’ – who wouldn’t be?”

The 105th’s positions were overrun. Firing their rifles until they ran out of ammunition and their machine guns until the barrels overheated, the Americans fell back as the attack became a running street brawl. They set up a second perimeter along the beach and, with their backs to the water, fought for hours before the attackers were all but annihilated.

When it was over, some 4,300 enemy dead were found on the battlefield, about half of them in front of the 105th’s positions. The regiment saw 406 killed and 512 wounded.

Mailloux was stabbed in the thigh by a Japanese officer wielding a long knife. Unable to move, he lay in a ditch for hours before Sidur, a 26-year-old sergeant also from Cohoes, found him bleeding in a muddy ditch.

“I didn’t know who it was,” Sidur said. “I just thought, ‘Boy, he looks familiar.'”

More than 3,000 Americans died in the land battle for Saipan, about a third of them 27th Division soldiers. Among the dead were scores of New Yorkers, including more than two dozen from Albany-area factory towns. Three members of the 105th killed in the July 7 attack were awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously, including Col. William O’Brien and Sgt. Thomas Baker, both from Troy.

Holland Smith declared Saipan secure on July 9, though the 27th remained on the island for weeks.

Survivors of the banzai attack were still recovering from their wounds when they learned of Smith’s comments lambasting their division. For many, an intense dislike of the Marine commander and leathernecks in general would last a lifetime. But not for Mailloux, who prefers to remember how the two branches of the service teamed up to defeat a determined foe.

“The Marines were Americans and we were Americans,” he said before tears cut off his words.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

    Woman advocates for those with pain syndrome

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Police ID man killed in Thanksgiving Day shooting

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

     
    Tobacco sting nets 6 arrests

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

     
    Police arrest man shortly after car stolen

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Police seek suspect in store robbery

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

     
    Black Friday brings out thrifty shoppers

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Police: Man stabbed while working late

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

     
    Dixon man arrested after Vacaville home break-in

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Fairfield police log: Nov. 27, 2014

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

    Suisun City police log: Nov. 27, 2014

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

     
    Fairfield police log: Nov. 26, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

    Suisun City police log: Nov. 26, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

     
    The complicated art of making choices

    By Murray Bass | From Page: B10

    Weather for Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014

    By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B11

     
    .

    US / World

    Inside Kobani: Devastation mixed with optimism

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    California delegation loses wealth of experience

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Audit: Police officer disciplined for texted photo

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

     
    Man dies after being shot with stun guns

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Judge: No more delay to enforce gun ruling

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    Huge fire destroys Southern California pallet yard

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Meningitis advisory at California university

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    Suspected killer’s note revealed in California

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Couple robbed, kidnapped at Berkeley lookout spot

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    14 arrested after chaining themselves to trains

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    NY boys buried in snow pile heard rescuers calling

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    A glance at national protests, cleanup in Ferguson

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    NY dinner puts wealthy and homeless at same tables

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Protests temporarily close malls, shut down trains

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Michael Brown’s legacy continues to evolve

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Russian doctor rebellion causes headache for Putin

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

    Past ban on marrying blacks may mar tribe’s future

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

     
    Police: Blasts at mosque in Nigeria kill 35 people

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

    Rebels push forward in southern Syria

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

     
    1.2 million Australian Christmas lights set record

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

    .

    Opinion

    Why accept mediocrity for entertainment?

    By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

     
    UC tuition ball in governor’s court

    By Dan Walters | From Page: A8

    Who needs a political party?

    By Thomas Elias | From Page: A8

     
    Destruction of a great nation

    By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

    .

    Living

    Community Calendar: Nov. 29, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

     
    Today in History: Nov. 29, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Neighbors are upset with our decision to place grandma in facility

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

     
    Shelter fund drive a hairy situation for member

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

    Horse with no eyes inspires children, veterans

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

     
    .

    Entertainment

    Doc rediscovers Bing Crosby’s triumphs, tragedies

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

     
    Madonna’s adopted kids meet Malawi’s president

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    Bob Baker, legendary puppeteer, dead at 90

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

     
    More art in German trove identified as looted

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

    .

    Sports

    Vikings open season with 62-42 victory over Mustangs

    By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    A’s trade All-Star Josh Donaldson to Toronto

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Speights leads Warriors over Hornets 106-101

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Hogan leads Stanford’s 31-10 upset of No. 9 UCLA

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Raiders won’t have Murray against Rams

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Kings protest of Nov. 13 loss denied by NBA

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Ray Rice wins appeal; NFL suspension vacated

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    49ers emotionally reeling after embarrassing loss

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Parker leads Spurs over Kings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Eisner: NFL team would boost downtown Los Angeles

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Coleman leads No. 11 UNC over No. 5 Stanford 70-54

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Westbrook scores 32 in return; Thunder beat Knicks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Bowl bid on line for Cal in finale vs BYU

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Mickey Rourke wins exhibition bout in Moscow

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    This date in sports history for Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Sports on TV/Local sports for Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 29-30

    By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B3

     
    .

    Business

    Black Friday gets a little less frenzied

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

     
    S&P 500 slips as crude oil sinks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

    Growers grateful for higher Christmas tree prices

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

     
    .

    Comics

    Blondie

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Baby Blues

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    B.C.

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Peanuts

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Garfield

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Pickles

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Beetle Bailey

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Sally Forth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Zits

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Get Fuzzy

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Baldo

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Rose is Rose

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Dilbert

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Frank and Ernest

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    For Better or Worse

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Wizard of Id

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Word Sleuth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Cryptoquote

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

    Bridge

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Sudoku

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

    Crossword

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    .

    Home Seller 11/29/14

    Real estate transactions for Nov. 29, 2014

    By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR2