Heroes: the Army
"...I moved across from one corner of the street from behind a stone building I remember hearing a loud crack above my head and only remember spinning around, the momentum tearing my rifle from my hands as I dropped to the ground..."
Hobert W. Enoch
- Branch of Service: Army
- Unit: Co. B., 407th Regiment,
102nd Infantry Division
- Dates: 1942 - 1945
- Location: European Theater
- Rank: PFC., Purple Heart
- Birth Year: 1925
- Entered Service: Baytown, TX
"Combat and Hospitalization Experiences
of Hobart W. Enoch, Co. B., 407th"
In all of the 43 years that have passed since I went on attack with Co. B of the 407th I can't help but look back on the happenings of that dreary, cold day. I never set down to a Thanksgiving dinner that I fail to remember the chow wagon coming up to feed us a hot meal that Thanksgiving Day in 1944. It was one of the few hot combat meals that we enjoyed and it was a great change from the rations we had been having so regularly.
On the 30th of November we knew that we were allerted to go on attack, but somewhere in the passed down of orders we did not get off at the exact time that had been set earlier. Of course this was nothing new to the lowly GI in the trenches and foxholes. At 1030 on Nov. 30 the First Battalion moved into the town of Welz from the northeast.
Welz was a well fortified town and the Germans were determined to hold this area. It caused a lot of hard fighting on the part of our Co. B troops. Many casualties were inflicted and as we moved slowly into town I became one of those who was to receive a head wound from a German sniper.
We had moved into the outskirts of the town and moved from building to building seeking out the enemy. As I moved across from one corner of the street from behind a stone building I remember hearing a loud crack above my head and only remember spinning around, the momentum tearing my rifle from my hands as I dropped to the ground.
I am not aware of how long I lay on the cold, wet street, but I do remember regaining consciousness as a medic knelt by me to give me a shot to relieve the pain. My next recollection was that of PFC Lester Faigley lifting me onto his back and carrying me to a barn that was being used as an evacuation center for the wounded. Here he placed me against a wall in the room with several severly wounded buddies. (I later learned - back as a civilian - that Lester had stepped on a land mine and was killed.)
My head had been bandaged in the field and the sulfa powder had been poured profusely into the missing top of my head. The sniper's bullet had penetrated my helmet and liner and lodged in the opposite side of the helmet. I was worried that I had also received a wound to my spine since I was paralyzed in both legs .
As we lay in the barn after noon an 88mm shell landed in the center of the room penetrating the wall and causing more injuries to the medic who was taking care of our needs. I was in and out of consciousness and only vaguely remember being transported in the dark of the night on a stretcher laid across the back of a jeep. At the evac. hospital I remember a reg tag being tied to the button on my shirt. The doctor said it was my one - way ticket home.
From the evacuation hospital we were transported by ambulance to a church or monestary in Liege, Belgium. Here I remember being awake enough to feel the pull of a razor as they shaved my head in preparation to start cleaning up my nasty head wound. During this time period there was little solid food in my stomach, but its amazing how one can survive on liquids when the situation requires it.
The head wound was cleaned in Liege, but the doctors said that skull fragments imbeded in the brain were causing the paralysis, so I was sent by ambulance to Maastrich, Holland. Here surgeons made great headway in getting surgical procedures underway to begin the many operations that were to follow. After the first surgery to repair nerve and brain tissue damage I was finally placed on a solid food diet. It didn't seem such an ordeal with a good meal to enjoy.
From Maastrich we were flown by transport to the hospital in Weymouth, England. At this point the doctors became serious in the treatment I was to receive. There were three operations to remove the fragments that were causing so many problems and the doctors advised that a metal plate would be needed to cover the gaping hole in the top of my head. This, I was told, would be a procedure that would take place stateside.
Christmas was now approaching and the wounded GIs were getting the spirit. I remember how nice the English people were who brought us Christmas cheer and goodies. This despite the fact they were sacrificing heavily rationed sugar and flour to make our Christmas away from home a little more enjoyable - and to help us forget our recent experiences. They provided caroling and other entertainment, as well as paying us visits during our confinement in the hospital on the English coast.
I well remember going back to the days to the days of my early childhood, when we pasted paper rings from colored paper and strung pop corn.
By using some latent artistic abilities we came up with some pretty decent Christmas decorations for our trees in the wards.
Packages began to arrive, mailed by our families sometime before Thanksgiving. I remember that I had wanted a pair of fur lined gloves - to counteract the cold, damp weather on the front. I received them a bit late from my brother in the Air Force in the states. I remember the first time I was able to get outside in my wheel chair and how proud I was of my warm gloves. It's amazing how such small items could mean so much at a time like this.
Most of December, January and February was spent under the surgeons knives and every afternoon was spent in physical therapy so I could once more use my legs. I had great regard for the nurses and doctors who took care of us. They had so much compassion and seemed devoted to bringing back life to the soldiers they treated.
I look back and think of all the chances the medics took as they served us on the front lines and starting us back on our way to the hospitals in the rear. I've always been proud of the many men of the 102d whom I learned gave so much of themselves in the fighting. It's amazing how close one can get when his very next breath of life can depend on the man beside him.
By February I had recovered enough to be put on board the hospital ship and sent to Halloren General Hospital in New York for transfer to a hospital as close to my home in Texas as possible. This final assignment was at McClosky General Hospital in Temple, Texas. Here, in March, I was to have the surgery to put a steel plate in my head. During all this period of time I was still going through extensive therapy for the paralysis and the lameness in my left leg where muscle had been taken out to cover and protect the brain.
The final day came for the task of putting a new top on my head and I came through with flying colors. I just knew I'd soon have my discharge, but the medics made me wait through April, May and June before they felt I had recovered sufficiently to be officially mustered out. It was a great day in the last of June when I was called in for a final interview and the DISCHARGE PAPERS that I had longed for for so long were finally signed. I was now free to return to my hometown and see if I could fit into the life of a civilian.
It was an experience I would not trade, but one that I doubt if I would be able to repeat just now. As I look back I thank God for all those who had any part in my medical treatment. I'm also thankful for the many friends I made in the service. My faithful wife of 42 years and my children and grandchildren are just compensation for any hardships that I may have had to endure.
I am still proud that I was able to serve my country in time of need and I know in my heart that America is still the best place to live in the world. I only have one desire left - and that is to see that the younger generation does not forget that the freedoms they enjoy were won by arduous, painful and sometimes mind - wrecking battle. If we, as tried and tested veterans, can keep this message alive we may be able to remain free people.
I lecture to high school classes in my home town with poetry and speeches to keep alive the flame in the torch of freedom.
----- Hobart W. Enoch
(Editor's note: Attempts were made throughout the text of the following story to place full names to the men listed in the story. For the most part, this is an educated guess and some names may very well be mistaken in their identy. The names were all taken from the division history book: With The 102d Infantry Division Through Germany, edited by Major Allen H. Mick. Using the text as a guide, associations with specific units were the basis for the name identifications. We are not attempting in any to rewrite the story. Any corrections are gladly welcomed.)
12 January 2005.
A photo of Co. A., 2nd Platoon, 407th Regiment, 102nd Division. This image is on a page that is dedicated to Mr. Edward Marchelitis, Sr., by his daughter Carol. Most of the men in the photo taken on December 20, 1943 are identified on the back of the image.
To view the photo of Co. A., 2nd Platoon, 407th Regiment as well as other photos of Edward Marchelitis, click on the image above.
The family of Mr. Marchelitis is seeking information on his platoon.
A special Thank You is extended to the daughter of Edward Marchelitis, Sr., Carol Marchelitis Heppner.
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The above story, "Combat and Hospitalization Experiences of PFC. Hobart W. Enoch, by Hobart W. Enoch, 407th, Co. B., was originally published in the 102d Division "Ozark Notes", Vol. 40, No. 3, Spring 1998, pp. 3 - 5.
The story is re-printed here on World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words with the kind permission of the 102d Infantry Division Association, Ms. Hope Emerich, Historian. Our sincerest THANKS for the 102d Infantry Division Association allowing us to share some of their stories.
We would also like to extend our sincere THANKS to Mr. Edward L. Souder, former historian of Co. F., 405th Regiment. His collection of stories of the "Kitchen Histories Project" series entitled, Those Damn Doggies in F, were responsible for bringing the stories of the men of the 102nd Division to the forefront.
Original Story submitted on 28 October 2003.
Story added to website on 28 October 2003.
September 5, 2002.
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