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Oct-20-2008 18:44printcomments

Combat Soldier Pointman: Fix Bayonets And Marching Fire

Phillip Leveque has spent his life as a Combat Infantryman, Physician Pharmacologist and Toxicologist.

U.S. Army soldiers in France during WWII
U.S. Army soldiers in France during WWII
Photo: Wikimedia

(MOLALLA, Ore.) - To my fellow Combat Infantry Dogfaces:

I volunteered for the Army in May 1944. I had just graduated from Oregon State College in Chemistry and I had been trained as a Toxicologist. I was the first one at Oregon State. I had been reading in the newspapers about the bloodbaths at Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, North Africa, Sicily, and Italy.

Almost all of my friends were in the service. I had been deferred to finish my chemistry training. I knew the Army could use a chemist/Toxicologist in case of chemical warfare. I was trained for that and then sent to the 89th Infantry Division to be a Chemical Warfare Non-Com. When I got there they had already selected him.

My First Sergeant told me, “We’re putting you in the Intelligence Section”. I didn’t know what that meant but I felt I was intelligent and decided to be brave & ask, “Sergeant what will I be doing?” “You’ll be a scout, pointman and forward observer.” I knew from movies I had seen that these were suicide missions. I said to myself “Leveque, you aren’t coming home!”

Learning to be a Dogface Infantryman is like volunteering to be a slave with absolutely no rights of any kind. Any superior can order the soldier to do anything they want you to do.

The Army has a saying: “They can’t make you do anything but if you don’t do it they can make you wish you had!”

One of my close friends had died of dehydration the summer before when his sergeant ordered him to throw away his water and then went on a 20 mile march in the hot Texas sun. I figured the Army and its sergeants were a bunch of stupid sadists. I was correct.

When we got to France in sub-freezing weather we were ordered to play football near a known mine field and march in the dark night through icy, muddy roads in shoes meant for summer weather. I was getting the point!

When we got into battle action, I found out how expendable a Dogface Infantry Soldier was. We often went first even without preliminary artillery or mortar fire. It seemed that Infantry losses meant nothing as long as the mission was successful.

Soon it came my turn. “Leveque, take the point” (of the attack). By then I knew it would be futile to do other than proceed.

One time, a buddy and I captured 26 German officers. I was second man on the attacking point. This may sound safer but the Germans usually let the first man through and slaughtered the rest. I think my sergeant and 'Louey' tried to kill me – a smart-assed college boy in their opinion.

I was out front all day for 3 or 4 days straight, I don’t even remember. I was scared stiff and I don’t even remember where I slept those nights.

A few days later my section of six (two at a time) manned a Forward Observation Post (OP) a half mile ahead of the main line of defense. It was like a goat in a tiger trap. Two of my buddies were captured within 5 minutes of me getting off the OP at midnight. That was scary but par for the course. One day I was alone at the OP when a German artillery piece was pointed right at me. I knew that was the END. Why they didn’t fire – I don’t know – too small a target I guess.

I never did hear the order, Thank God, “Fix bayonets and marching fire” where surviving infantry form a horizontal line and fire from the hip while marching. The Japanese had a name for this: KAMAKAZE CHARGE. Most of them were killed. I’m sure the U.S. Army did it also, ordered by someone way back at Battalion or Regimental Headquarters.

Hurrah for My Combat Infantrymen Buddies.


Got a question or comment for Dr. Leveque?
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More information on the history of Dr. Leveque can be found in his book, General Patton's Dogface Soldier of WWII about his own experiences "from a foxhole".
Order the book by mail by following this link: Dogface Soldier

If you are a World War II history buff, you don't want to miss it.

Watch for more streaming video question and answer segments about medical marijuana with Bonnie King and Dr. Phil Leveque.

Click on this link for other articles and video segments about PTSD and medical marijuana on

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Peacenik October 21, 2008 10:11 am (Pacific time)

With the author's college degree, I'm surprised he was not given a commission? A chemistry degree is a highly valued degree currently for the military, so I assume 64 years ago even more so.

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