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2nd Lt. James J. Ahern, of Company F, 147th Regiment, wondered why Lippold never got any mail or wrote any letters. He spoke with him and learned that he was Austrian. About the time Nazi Germany annexed his homeland, he came to America to study. After Pearl Harbor, he was subject to the draft even though he wasn't a U.S. citizen, and so he entered the Army.
Ernst Lippold, a private who was Jewish and in his early 20s; He was quiet, polite and unassuming. He didn't complain. He was a good soldier. Lippold believed that the Nazis had killed the family he left behind in Austria, that he alone survived. He had no one. Ahern liked him and became his friend. But he couldn't grant Lippold's request for a transfer to Europe, where he could search for his relatives. That just wasn't possible.
One day in April 1945, Ahern asked for a volunteer to check out a report of a possible mine, and Lippold said, ''I'll go.'' Walking down a small trail, he tripped the wire on a ''bouncing Betty'' mine, which flew up and detonated. He was mortally wounded and died soon afterward at a battalion aid station. Ahern had heard the explosion and knew what it meant. Tears filled his eyes. He accompanied the body to the cemetery near Mount Suribachi, where a Catholic chaplain prayed in Hebrew as two Marines lowered Lippold's sack-enclosed body into the ground.
The Army had no one to contact with the news about Lippold. His death on a stinking piece of rock in the Pacific, unmourned by a family that had probably perished in the Holocaust, weighed on Ahern for many years. He tried to find out if anyone had ever claimed the body. No one had. But it was disinterred and reburied in 1950 in Arlington National Cemetery, America's most hallowed ground. At least there was that.
''I think often of this quiet man, this good soldier who gave his life for all Americans,'' Ahern once wrote to friends. ''May God have mercy on his soul.'' The 147th separated from the 37th Infantry Division before going overseas in April 1942, only rejoining them for a short period on Guadalcanal, then separated again for the rest of the war.
The 4th Marines on Emirau was relived by the 147th Infantry Regiment on 11 April 1944. They were there to build and guard an airfield with the Seabees. The 147th was the only infantry regiment who had ever built an airfield before (Tonga 1942). They served on Saipan, Tinian, Okinawa and Iwo Jima, where fighting continued after the USMC left the island, until July 1945. Companies, groups and individuals of the 147th fought on all these battlefields. Company D transported and guarded the 'Little Boy' atomic bomb.
The 37th had several Medal of Honors awarded among their officer corps. The 147th sent 4 officers and 60 enlisted men to CBI / Merrils Marauders as jungle fighting specialists. The 3rd Bn. commander of the 147th became the 3rd BN. commander of the Marauders. He won a Silver Star on Guadalcanal and two more in Burma. Many other 147th Guadalcanal veterans became instructors to the Army and Marines on jungle warfare.
Guadalcanal, Emirau, Saipan, Tinian, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. These names are usually associated with the USMC, but no unit other than the 147th Infantry Regiment participated in all these battles.
The 147th was also victim of little press, fighting aside Marines and the Navy, whose units commanded better public relations exposure. The 147th was often attached to various USMC units, or posted as garrison troops, and the company was further divided, giving veterans varied experiences but less of the name recognition that other units of WWII experienced.