Summary

Conflict Period:
World War II 1
Branch:
Army, Army Air Forces 1
Rank:
CAPT 1
Death:
24 Jun 1944 2
Saipan 2
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Personal Details

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Full Name:
William Trebor Heminway 2
Full Name:
William T Heminway 1
Death:
24 Jun 1944 2
Saipan 2
Residence:
Place: New York 1
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World War II 1

Branch:
Army, Army Air Forces 1
Rank:
CAPT 1
Service Start Date:
14 Jun 1935 2
Service End Date:
24 Jun 1944 2
Service Number:
O-394214 1
Casualty Type:
KIA 1

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Sources

  1. WWII Army and Army Air Force Casualty List [See image]
  2. Contributed by tom2001
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Stories

BRONZE STAR CITATION
19-20 FEBRUARY 1944
ENIWETOK

Captain Heminway, when his front lines were held up by enemy strongpoints, constantly went to the portion of the lines receiving the strongest resistance.  When he had lost all of his officers but one, Captain Heminway led platoons as well as the entire company, for the remainder of the attack. Captain Heminway's constant display of cool, determined courage was an inspiration to the men of his organization during the entire attack.

From THE NATIONAL GUARD IN WAR: AN HISTORICAL ANALYSIS OF THE 27TH INFANTRY DIVISION (NEW YORK NATIONAL GUARD) IN WORLD WAR II By Charles S. Kaune 

The [106th] RCT was not needed at Kwajalein, and was therefore, diverted to Eniwetok on 13 February. The two battalion landing teams assaulted the beach on 19 February and found stiff opposition.During the three days of intense fighting the RCT was indoctrinated in the hazards of jungle warfare. In one Japanese counterattack consisting of heavy small arms and mortar fire, the inexperienced men of Company D turned and ran. One Lieutenant, Artie Klein, was reported by Captain Edmund G. Love, historian of the 27th Division, to have halted their flight by brandishing his carbine, and yelling, "I'll shoot the first son of a bitch that takes another step backward. You bastards are supposed to be All-American soldiers. Now let's see you show some guts!" 

By the 24th of February all effective resistance had been eliminated. The 106th Infantry served as the garrison force on Eniwetok until replaced by the 111th Infantry in late March. Colonel Ayers and his soldiers arrived back at Oahu on the 13th of April 1944.

 

SILVER STAR CITATION
23 JUNE 1944
SAIPAN

When an enemy counterattack at dusk coupled with an exploding ammunition dump threatened to divide the division line, Captain Heminway at the risk of his own life exposed himself to the extreme in the midst of flying debris, shrapnel and heavy enemy fire to reorganize and coordinate his lines  as casualties mounted and his men were forced from their positions by terrific detonations and devastating quantities of shrapnel.  The courage and leadership of Captain Heminway reflect the highest traditions of the service.

From THE OPERATIONS OF COMPANY L, 3RD BATTALION, l06TH INFANTRY (27TH INFANTRY DIVISION) IN THE BATTLE OF DEATH VALLEY, SAIPAN, 23 JUNE - 26 JUNE 1944
 (Personal Experience of a Company Commander)
by Major Charles H. Hallden 

[Saipan, 23 June 1944]

At 1940, just as darkness fell the Japanese launched a tank attack down the road through Death Valley. This road ran directly between K Company and 2nd Battalion, 165th Infantry Regiment positions. The attack was not discovered until the leading vehicle was almost at our lines. Due to the proximity of this leading vehicle, fire could not be placed upon it and therefore it came through the lines along the road. The other five tanks were taken under fire with every weapon available, bazookas, anti-tank guns, and artillery, as well as grenades from grenade launchers. All five tanks were knocked out. 

Meanwhile, the one tank that had penetrated the lines proceeded along the road spraying everything as it went with fire from its turret gun and from machine guns. Upon reaching the road junction in the rear of battalion CP, it circled back again toward the front lines, still firing. Just before reaching the line of trees, it again turned around and started back south. One shell from its turret gun accidentally landed in the ammunition dump in K Company area, and within a few moments, this whole dump was exploding in every direction. The tank then moved through the 165th regimental area where it was finally knocked out. 

Orders were then received to drop back 100 yards and dig in out of the 'area of exploding ammunition which had made the existing positions untenable. The night was spent with all units very much on the alert and all men very  tired.

 

KIA 24 JUNE 1944 

The pressure from higher headquarters to move against this heavy resistance was illustrated by the 3rd Battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Harold I. Mizony. He called Captain Heminway, of K Company to him and said, "Bill, I hate to do it, but I've got to send you out there". Bill Heminway replied, "Don't apologize, Hi - I know how it is". Then he straightened up and stuck out his hand saying, ·So long, Hi. It's damned nice knowing you". Fifteen minutes later Bill Heminway was dead and along with him some seventeen others of his company who had confidence in him and their other higher leaders.

 

From D-Day in the Pacific: The Battle of Saipan
by Harold J Goldberg 

Holland Smith ordered a general attack for 0800 on 24 June. Once again, the 165th Regiment was responsible for the series of hills that made up Purple Heart Ridge, while the 106th would move directly into Death Valley. The day did not go well, as the caves and ridges again provided excellent cover for Japanese defenders. Although some companies of the 165th advanced 150 yards on 24 June, others made less progress. The situation was similar for the 106th. Between 0800 and 0945 the troops had moved only fifty to one hundred yards against strong opposition, and as Crowl [Philip A Crowl, author of Campaign in the Marianas, part of the Army Green Book series] noted, “there was no sign of any abatement of enemy fire, especially from the cliffs of Tapotchau.” Ralph Smith, feeling the pressure from Marine Corps headquarters but unaware that he was on the verge of dismissal, ordered his troops to push the attack: “Advance of 50 yards in one and a half hours is most unsatisfactory. Start moving at once.” Captain Heminway’s K Company responded and advanced. Crowl described the situation: “They had pushed forward fifty yards without event when the entire cliff on the left of the valley seemed to open up.” Nevertheless, Heminway prepared to continue with the attack: “Just as he got up to wave his men forward again he was shot in the head and killed.” At least eight other men were killed as well. The troops had to withdraw using a smoke screen. Crowl concluded: “Finally, about 1225, Colonel Mizony brought every weapon he had to bear on the Japanese positions along the cliff and in Hell’s Pocket. Under cover of this fire the remainder of Company I was able to crawl and scramble back to the cover of the trees. For the day, casualties in Mizony’s 3rd Battalion, 106th alone had amounted to 14 killed and 109 wounded.”

  From Campaign in the Marianas
Philip A. Crowl
106th Infantry: Into Death Valley Again

The units, from right to left, on the front line facing the mouth of Death Valley on the morning of 24 June were: Company K, 106th Infantry, Captain Heminway; Company L, 106th Infantry, Captain Hallden; and Company G, 106th Infantry, Capt. David B. Tarrant. Company F of the 106th was still on top of the cliff, and, since its movement was geared to that of the 2d Marine Division, its actions must be considered as separate from those of the rest of the 106th Regiment.

The 3d Battalion jumped off on time, but immediately encountered such heavy mortar fire that many of the men fell back to the line of departure and in some cases behind it. By 0945 the front-line troops had advanced from 50 to 100 yards into the valley, but there was no sign of any abatement of enemy fire, especially from the cliffs of Tapotchau. Division headquarters was severely disappointed, and at 1012 General Ralph Smith radioed Colonel Ayers: "Advance of 50 yards in 1 1/2 hours is most unsatisfactory. Start moving at once."

In response to this pressure, Company K, supported by a platoon of medium tanks of Company B, 762d Tank Battalion, immediately pushed forward into the valley. Captain Heminway had two platoons abreast, the 1st on the right, the 3d on the left. He left the 2d Platoon at the entrance to the valley to deliver covering fire to his front. He also set up his machine guns on the high ground beside the valley road and had some support from M Company's heavy weapons. Heminway's men advanced in a long, thin skirmish line, moving rapidly toward the center of the valley. They had pushed forward fifty yards without event when the entire cliff on the left of the valley seemed to open up. The company broke into a run toward a fold in the ground that offered some cover. Here the company commander stopped to reorganize his line. Just as he got up to wave his men forward again he was shot in the head and killed. This paralyzed the entire line until 1st Lt. Jefferson Noakes, the company executive officer, could come forward and take command.

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