That happened recently in my interviews with 91-year-old Clifford A. Hahn, a 7th Infantry Division veteran of World War II who fought in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, the Marshall Islands and the Philippines and on Okinawa, and has three Purple Hearts.
Cliff was talking about the fighting on Leyte Island in the Philippines and mentioned dodging Japanese bullets with a Lt. Blue. “You remember his name?” I said. “Yes, he got killed a couple days later. He was a darn good guy.” “How do you spell it?” “Like the color, I think.”
Though Cliff didn’t remember the lieutenant’s first name, he did say that Blue was from North Carolina. I found a Daniel A. Blue from North Carolina in the National Archives’ database of Army enlistment records for World War II — more than 700 Blues were listed — and Googled the name. Second Lt. Daniel A. Blue in fact was highly decorated. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, just below the Medal of Honor. Here’s what I found online:
Daniel A. Blue
Date of death: Killed in Action
Home of record: North Carolina
SYNOPSIS: Second Lieutenant (Infantry) Daniel A. Blue (ASN: 0-1315901), United States Army, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy, in action against enemy forces on 28 October 1944. Second Lieutenant Blue’s intrepid actions, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty at the cost of his life, exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
General Orders: Headquarters, U.S. Army Forces-Pacific Ocean Areas, General Orders No. 52 (1945)
Action Date: 28-Oct-44
Rank: Second Lieutenant
I wasn’t done. A search of his name on Newspapers.com turned up this Associated Press story that appeared Nov. 30, 1944, under a one-column headline on Page 8 of The Robesonian of Lumberton, N.C.:
Lt. Daniel Blue
tricks Japs in
Laurinburg man pulled out and left 2 enemy battalions fighting each other in the dark.
By Spencer Davis
WITH SEVENTH DIVISION, LEYTE, P.I., Nov. 28 (AP) – An American patrol, caught at dusk by enemy machine-gun fire directly ahead and from the rear, moved to the sidelines and from a grassy knoll watched two parties of Japanese battle each other through the night.
Second Lt. Daniel A. Blue, Laurinburg, N.C., led a platoon of C Company of a Seventh Division infantry regiment over the rugged mountain trails skirting Mount Catmon on a five-day reconnaissance. His party saw 30 Japanese encamped across a riverbed.
The enemy also spotted Blue but instead of firing, waved to him. Blue, who is short, stocky, deeply tanned with a curly beard and mustache, figured he had been mistaken for a Japanese. He waved back, and beckoned the Japanese across the stream in hope of capturing some prisoners.
When the enemy patrol was in midstream, some of Blue’s men opened fire prematurely. In the resulting exchange, 25 Nipponese were killed. Five escaped.
It was nearly night when Blue’s platoon examined the bodies and dragged them to cover. As they did so, heavy machine-gun fire opened up on them. The spatter of a Japanese woodpecker [a Type 92 machine gun] sounded from the rear and Blue found himself fired on from both the front and the rear. He decided to withdraw.
The Americans swiftly filed upstream and out of danger on a hillside. But the Japanese machine-gun fire continued at a furious rate.
Obviously each enemy party thought the other was an American patrol. At daylight the firing stopped abruptly and the Japanese melted away into the jungle after burying their dead.
At one point there were 35 fresh shallow graves.
That’s the story, but there is a discrepancy. The AP account is dated Nov. 28. Blue was killed in action Oct. 28.
I wonder if there are any relatives of Daniel A. Blue who might see my story on Cliff that ran Jan. 26 in The Morning Call. Here’s the link: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-war-story-clifford-hahn-20140125,0,4254154.story I know Cliff would be thrilled to hear from them.