Book Excerpts

Header image showing the titles of two books, "Advising Chiang's Army" and "Answering the Call", both by Stephen L. Wilson

Advising Chiang’s Army

Phil’s experience in China also presented challenges on a more personal level.  In addition to the obvious dangers posed by encounters with the Japanese, his living conditions were very primitive and unsanitary.  Rats and pigs often shared the American soldiers’ living quarters.  Phil had frequent problems with an unruly stomach, which prompted him to request shipments of Pepto-Bismol from his mother on multiple occasions.  Shortly before leaving China after the war was over, he was diagnosed with amebic dysentary and required to spend several days in the hospital to treat the disease.  The weather offered extremes at both ends–the winters were so cold that Phil’s unit resorted to sleeping eight in the same bed and burning their wooden furniture in order to stay warm.  On the other hand, the temperature soared to 108 degrees Fahrenheit on April 12, 1944, and many other days were extremely hot.  The rugged terrain required travel on horseback or by foot, and Phil’s assignments involved frequent travel.

Answering the Call

In the middle of the night, Allen was jolted awake by the sharp, loud crack of gunfire.  It came from the sentry who was standing just a few yards away.  Shots were fired because the sentry on duty and the man attempting to replace him had not communicated with each other.  Either the password was incorrectly given, given correctly but not heard, or perhaps not given at all.  In any event, Captain Jiles, Technician Stanley Throne (the relieving sentry), and Private First Class Robert Gross were all wounded in this unfortunate accident.  They were immediately evacuated from the combat area and sent back to a medical unit for treatment.  Although Gross was able to rejoin the company at a later time, Jiles and Throne received more severe wounds and would never return to their unit.

Not surprisingly, this incident caused “complete pandemonium” within the company.  Everyone woke up and at first thought the Germans had attacked.  Things settled down somewhat when it was discovered what had occurred, but tensions remained high because the men knew combat was soon to follow.