Re: [NC] Harley M. CRANDLE of Greenville
New Guinea - September 9, 1942:
Somewhere inland on this South Sea outpost of U. S. Troops, a river loafs its way through the jungle to the sea. It looks like a southern river, like the Congree or the Tallapoosa, except it knows crocodiles and war. Beside the river the other day, three Negro soldiers of an engineering outfit were working in the sun. They were souther men, one from Alabama and the other two from the Carolinas. The river might have reminded them of home except for the U S fighter planes wheeling overhead to intercept the Japanese bombers. They looked up at the planes as they had idly done before, but this time something was wrong, a fighter was in trouble, coming down. They watched spellbound as the plane crashed into the water in front of them. A fuel tank burst and high octane gasoline splashed over the plane and into the water around it. A spark flashed, the plane and water burst into flame. In the cockpit the pilot, dazed from shock of the crash, struggled to get out. The fire reached the fighters armament and ammunition exploded wildly. The three southern soldiers on the river banks saw no chance for the pilot with the river on fire and all three hit the water. PFC JULIUS S. FRANKLIN of Charleston, swam to the burning plane, its ammunition dancing all around. He swam to the cockpit, freed the pilot, pulled him clear. Behind him came the other two buddies, PFC HARLEY M. CRANDLE, of Greenville, North Carolina and PVT JAMES SCOTT of Montgomery, Alabama, and together they got the dazed flier ashore as the burning plane drifted downstream. For their bravery they were awarded The Soldiers Medal for Heroism, the first Negros in the South Pacific to receive such honors.