Tad Lainhart - 325th Medic from Beginning To End.

This article first appeared in the 2000 issue of The Glider Gazette, the 325th GIR, Company F Reenactors newsletter. It appears courtesy of the author and unit member, Buck Waddell.

"MEDIC!!" That cry was heard over and over again during the campaigns in North Africa and Europe. No one was more received than the "doc" to treat and comfort the wounded or dying. Many times medics never bought drinks at a pub or paid for dinner. hey came from all over the country, and many medics were conscientious objectors who would noy kill another human, but would give their all to save another human life.
This newsletter's veteran story is of Edwin "Tad" Lainhart. Tad was drafted in the fall of 1942 along with thousands of young men who were not old enough to vote, but old enough to carry a rifle. He found himself on his way to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina for military training. Tad was placed in one of the three training companies of the 325th, and there experienced an introduction into the military way of life. As a member of "Z Company", Tad mastered the rifle and grenade. When the call for volunteers to the medical corps came along, Tad was extremely surprised when his 1st Sergeant accepted him as a volunteer due to his expertise with weapons.
Completing his medical training and glider flight training, Tad and the 325th were alerted for overseas movement in the Spring of 1943. The 325th boarded the ship
Santa Rosa, and put out for Casablanca. The 325th arrived on May 10th, and were moved by 40 X 8's (the nickname for the box cars that moved allied soldiers across North Africa and Europe, the name came from the signage on the side of the box cars. It stated the box car could hold 40 men or 8 horses). The regiment was quartered in dog tents in Oujda, Algeria and El Elam. Training intensified in preparation of Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily. In late June, the 325th was transported to Sicily via C-47s, and within a few days of landing, found themselves shipped to Italy to reinforce General Mark Clarks troops at the Salerno beachead.
Tad and 2nd Battalion, E Company, moved to hold the left flank of the beachead at Nt. Sainte Angelo. The mountain was near inaccessible and resupply was strictly by manpower or donkey. Tad stated the first 36 hours on the mountain were without food and water for at least 30 hours. He could get by without washing his face and brushing his teeth, but by the time the water arrived, he was spitting dust and his tongue was sticking to the roof of his mouth!
The Germans wanted to take Mt. Sainte Angelo as bad as the 325th wanted to hold it. For 16 days, Tad and his friend, Medic Wilbur Shaffer, tended to the wounded and suffering soldiers as best they could, making numerous trips up and down the mountain as stretcher bearers and bringing food, water, and medical supplies on their way back. Company Commander, Captain Robert Dickerson gave Tad a verbal commendation and many of the men of the 325th gave high praise to Tad for his work and compassion on the mountain. The 325th was moved to Naples in early October for R&R and to receive replacements. After a couple of months of occupation duty, the 325th headed for Ireland, in preparation for the invasion of France.
On the morning of 7 June, tad headed for France with the 325th and landed near Ste. Mere-Eglise, approximately 0900 that morning. Attached to the 505th PIR, the 325th pushed north towards the causeway at La Fiere to stop the Germans from oushing into Ste. Mere-Eglise. Tad was in the thick of the fight for the village of Le Ham and was constantly working under heavy artillery and mortar fire, plus small arms fire. 2nd Battalion Commander, Lt. Colonel John H. "Swede" Swenson was wounded the 2nd day of the attack. Tad came upon him propped against a tree with a serious wound. Tad tried to give him morphine, but he refused, stating he wanted to be alert and know what was going on with his troops. Tad sent a litter for Swenson and went back to tending the many wounded from a bayonet charge through the hedgerows. While attending to the wounded of both sides, Tad found his best friend from Z Company, Herbert Sanderson, mortally wounded. Sanderson had always told Tad that if he was wounded he wanted Tad there right away to take care of him. Tad did all he could for his dying friend, but he could not save him. The 325th fought with great distinction in Normandy and received no replacements for 31 days of combat.
When 2nd Battalion returned to England, the battalion strength was 200 men, down from 700 upon entering combat in Normandy. After obtaining replacements and getting a well deserved rest, the 325th was again alerted for. The target was Holland and
Operation Market-Garden. After constant bad wather, Tad and the 2nd Battalion was on their way September 23rd. Tad landed near Nijmegen and counted his blessings for making the trip safely. 19 of the 40 gliders of the 1st Battalion and HQ companies made it to Holland safely. The delays in the mission gave the Germans along the air corridor a chance to prepare for the follow-up Allied flights that were coming to reinforce the initial drops made on September 17th.
Tad tended to the wounded of both sides and was becoming a devout Christian amidst the horrors of World War II. His prayer through this time was "God help me do my duty for my country and do your will." After 60 days of frustration, due to the failure of Market-Garden to kick open the door to the Ruhr, the 325th was withdrawn to Sissone, France for R&R and to obtain replacements. After a short stay, the 325th was rushed north to Belgium on December 19th, to stop the Germans in the Battle of the Bulge.
Tad arrived with F Company, 2nd Battalion, and dug in defensive positions at Manhay, Grandmenil, along the highway Braque de Fraiture to Sart. Soon the Germans began attacks on those 325th positions. Tad and his litter squad got lucky and found a barn to stay the night and sleep. They were quickly awakened by tracer fire, and got out of the barn before it caught fire and burned to the ground. Tad and his squad were given word that there was a wounded German soldier in front of the 325th positions and they were ordered to retrieve him for possible interrorgation. Tad went out to "no man's land" and brought the German back to the aid station. Tad and his fellow medics tended to the wounded German, giving him a cigarette and cleaning his wounds. One "tough guy" 82nd trooper smacked the smoke from the Germans mouth, quickly Tad lit another and told the trooper, "If this Kraut is worth me risking my life to get him here, he is worth a cigarette!" The aid-station doctors attempted to give plasma to the German, but he kept knocking the needle out of his arm, saying in German, "I don't want any American blood in me!" The German gave no information and he was pushed back to a corner of the barn, where he later died.
Tad took a litter squad out to the front lines to retrieve a wounded F Company man who was hidden under some brush. After nearly a mile ride, the wounded man was found and loaded up into the litter. During this time, an allied observation plane came down for a closer look. The Germans opened up with everything they had. Luckily the plane got away, but with all the firing, Tad and his buddies realized they were in the middle of a German horseshoe, and were close to being trapped! They quickly loaded the wounded man back on the jeep and took off cross country in order to avoid the German trap. In their escape they ran into a German patrol. The litter squad dove headlong into the closest ditch they could find. Tad said he was the last one to dive in the ditch and he landed on top of 3 other GIs! He thought to himself that this was the end and he would either be killed or captured. With MG42 fire raking the ditch, one of the 325 men found a bazooka. Rounds were passed down from each man to the bazooka man. In the midst of the hellish fire, the man stood up and put a round into the machine gun nest - knocking it out! The GI stood up, yelling like a madman, "I hadn't had this much fun since I played cowboys and indians, and get me some more ammunition!"
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(c) Copyright 2000 by Tad Lainhart and Buck Waddell