LES Cruise Flies in the Same WW II Plane He Jumped from on D-Day
A Word About Our Doctors & Medics
Colonel Dan McIlvoy, our Regimental Surgeon, (pictured right) provided me with a truly fascinating
account of doctors and medics in the 505 during WW II. He credits the 505 medical organization with contributing to a
lower casualty rate, including faster and more efficient methods of casualty evacuation. This through applying lessons learned
during successive campaigns.
The document also credits the bravery and self-sacrifice of medics and doctors while under enemy observation and fire.
McIlvoy writes,"...War, a favorite subject of writers...
but mostly about Generals and other officers and the fighting enlisted men; had little about the medic aid men and
their contribution. Our medics had a warm, respected place with the men they served. They were affectionately called "Doc,"
watched over, fought for in the pubs and protected as much as they could be in combat...In our regiment when the combat soldiers were
awarded Combat Infantry Badges or pay, it was noted that the medics did not receive these badges or pay, since they were not gun-carrying combattants.
The enlisted men of the regiment volunteered to give money out of their own pockets for a so-called combat medic pay,
which the medics turned down."
"...one of the bravest officers I've ever known or heard of, was Dr. Pete Suer,
a Jewish dentist who could speak some German. He would plaster a jeep with Red Cross flags and carry German wounded to the
front lines and swap them for our American boys who were also wounded..."
McIlvoy wrote that later Suer, losing both legs due to a mortar shell, was eventually evacuated to
Walter Reed, He died while undergoing surgery to enable him to use artifical limbs.
After reading McIlvoy's account of the bravery and sacrifices of other medics and doctors, I remembered
witnessing just such a display of courage and total disregard for safety by McIlvoy, Pfc Murray Goldman and Pfc Marvin L Crosby (Medical Department)
during the Sicilian Campaign at Biazza Ridge. The following letter written May, 1945, by Goldman is the first time I have read
a complete account of it.
Goldman writes,"July 11, 1943, I was told to move up to
the vicinity of Biazza Ridge with part of the Battalion Aid personnel to an area where part of our battalion was engaged."
"Major McIlvoy and several others had gone ahead to establish the
aid station. When I arrived at the place, I found the entire area under intense mortar, small arms and high velocity
artillery fire. However, the aid station was functioning and about twenty to thirty wounded were collected and being
treated in a defiladed area in an olive orchard."
"Major McIlvoy was present and had procurred an Italian truck, which was marked
with the Geneva Cross."
"About this time, a runner appeared and excitedly reported that there were many wounded up ahead,
and exposed to enemy fire. The Major never hesitated; he jumped into the driver's seat of the vehicle and ask for two
volunteers to accompany him, as he knew that the mission was extremely hazardous. Crosby and myself were the first
aboard and we were off."
"We drove into the fire-swept area searching the fields on both sides of the road
for our wounded. Making a turn in the road we came face to face with a German Mark VI tank. The Major drove the truck off the road
and into a ditch and attempted to turn it around. We were immediately machine-gunned by fire from the tank and several
other positions on our flank. The concrete road marker that I was lying behind received a direct hit and the concussion
stunned me. I looked up and saw the Major and cied out that I had been hit. The Major started toward me and was himself hit in the back
by a mortar fragment. Nevertheless, he helped me to my feet and we both started back. We had proceeded about twenty yards
when the truck we had used was blown to bits by a direct hit from cannon fire from the tank."
"The Major helped me back to the aid station and continued throughout the day
and far into the night to supervise the collection, treatment and evacuation of every man wounded in that entire area. When this job
was done, he also supervised and started an evacuation in the city of Vittoria. We had no transportation, our medical
supplies were only what we brought in by air and carried for the most part on our person; yet no wounded man failed to be evacuated
to the rear within a short time after being wounded."
"Major McIlvoy's sincerity, courage and devotion to this task was the inspiration with which we
accomplished a task that even now seems almost impossible."
Airborne! - Stay healthy - be careful out there!
Bob Fielder, President
505th PRCT Association
A Brother in Arms
To Whom It May Concern:
I might have some information concerning a 1/Lt Sylvester T. Alfano whom I
believe served under LTC Vandervoort during WW II. Mr. Alfano is my wife's grandfather and I have had the distinct
honor of meeting him. I believe Mr. Alfano served with the 82nd Airborne Division, 505th Parachute Regiment as a "C" or "D" Company Commander.
It is my understanding that 1/Lt Alfano (pictured left) actively participated in the following campaigns:
Sicily, Italy, Africa, and Normandy (D-Day)! Over the years, Cy has never really wanted to talk about his experiences. However, I had the surprising honor of
hearing first hand accounts of his WW II experiences. As an Air Force C-130 Navigator, I have always been interested in the airdrops on the night of the D-Day invasion.
Cy's account of that night and of the short period after the invasion are quite fascinating! Cy's accounts include: violent anti-aircraft fire,
mass confusion, misidentified drop zones, stuck door on his C-47 plane prior to drop resulting in his subsequent drop
location into a cow pasture, main chute failure with a bright white reserve chute appearing as Cy dropped to
the ground under enemy fire, shortage of supplies & ammo (drops went to Germans), etc....
Mr. Alfano vividly remembers LTC Vandervoort & recalls when Gen. Gavin was a Captain!
Mr. Alfano even recanted an amazing story about being sent to a location to stop
an anticipated German counteroffensive with only around 5 men w/less than a full round each,a mortar w/about 30 rounds,
and a captured German machine gun w/little ammo. According to Mr. Alfano, he was suppose to dig in and wait for an expected
German counteroffensive with what he had. If one occurred, he was to stall and sent a runner to LTC Vandervoort.
During that night, Cy heard noises about 100-150 yards out. He systematically fired off a few rounds from the mortar
and waited for daylight. At daybreak, a German soldier appeared waving a white flag. Cy kept his men down and did not
want the Germans to see how few men he had or that he was having to use a captured German machine gun. Cy went out to
meet the soldier & the soldier informed Cy that the German commander wanted to discuss terms for the evacuation of
the wounded. At this point, Cy bluffed the soldier and told the soldier that if his commander didn't surrender within
3 minutes they would "get more of what they just got." The soldier disappeared into the brush as Cy waited. Shortly
thereafter, the soldier and a tall German officer appeared. The officer walked right up to Cy and started to reach
for his pistol. Cy recalls that he was scared and "almost popped him." But Cy realized that the officer was surrendering.
As the officer waved for the other soldiers to come out from the brush, Cy recalled that he was amazed that there were
well over 100 soldiers surrendering. Cy had his men get their weapons and had them escorted down the hill to LTC
Vandervoort. Thus, the amazing story of six men with little ammo capturing over 100 prisoners! Cy was eventually
wounded in battle later that month and was sent home with a Purple Heart. Mr. Alfano told more stories such as his
friendship with a "Lt. Ray" or "Lt. Wray" who was subsequently killed in action.
Mr. Alfano is an honest, honorable, and proud man. He has no idea that I am
contacting you. I am contacting you because I respect the sacrifices and bravery exhibited by his generation. I feel
the stories need to be saved for future generations to appreciate and study. I hope the story adds to the depth of your
web page. I would appreciate it if you would e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
if you have any information regarding the current commander of the 82nd Airborne Division and his official mailing address.