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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Dad's War Stories: The Crazed Water Buffalo

Introduction: My dad was in the Army and he served during World War II in the Pacific theater. 

While growing up in Massachusetts, he used to tell me stories about his time in the Army and combat operations during the war. 

He served in Guadalcanal, the Solomon Islands, New Hebrides, the Philippines, and the occupation of Japan. 

My dad died in 2006, so I won't be able to have him edit this for accuracy, obviously. 

I will do my best to retell the stories as close as I can remember to the way he told me. 

My attempt to retell the stories will be in a short story format from throughout his time in the Pacific theater. 

Story 1: the crazed water buffalo. 

While at a garrison in the Philippines, outside of Luzon, one day there was a water buffalo that became enraged and went on a stampede through the nearby village. 

The water buffalo trampled several people and quickly, the nearby soldiers jumped into action to try to save the villagers. 

The water buffalo was completely out of control and was running wildly, destroying the thatch huts of the village. 

The soldiers engaged the water buffalo with small arms fire but it was largely ineffective due to the fear of hitting innocent bystanders. 

The crazed water buffalo took numerous hits from 30-06 rounds and 30 caliber rounds from M1 garands and carbines, but the animal just got angrier and kept destroying the village. 

There were civilian casualties littered around the village in the wake of crazed water buffalo. 

Something had to be done to stop the carnage as the sporadic fire from the riflemen was ineffective. 

One soldier had a great idea and decided to jump on a horse that was nearby. The man on the horse charged towards the water buffalo and as soon as the water buffalo saw the horse coming at him, he took off in a dead sprint heading out of the village. 

The soldier on horseback chased the water buffalo and came up alongside it, firing his .45 caliber 1911 pistol at the animal's head until was it was empty.

The soldier on horseback continued to chase the water buffalo away from the village. 

The animal finally succumbed to blood loss two hundred meters later and collapsed, dead. 

The water buffalo had taken seven .45 caliber rounds to the head and neck area in addition to numerous rifle round hits all over its body. 

Without a clear shot, the animal's horns and thick hide made it a very tough target to kill. 

The soldier on horseback was immediately named the buffalo killer and the villagers were very happy that he had saved them. 

To show their appreciation for saving them from the crazed water buffalo, the villagers prepared a huge feast for the soldiers and served up the buffalo carcass as the main dish. 

Later, the buffalo killer soldier received a commendation award, for his heroic actions while saving the village from the crazed water buffalo.

My father was too far away from the water buffalo to get off any shots but he witnessed the entire event. 

His main take-home point from this incident was that if you see a water buffalo, keep your distance. And don't get all friendly with one. 

Before this incident my father had seen children playing and hanging on the water buffalo and it seemed like a very gentle creature. 

No one ever found out what caused the water buffalo to go crazy. 

Ever since that incident, my father was always extra cautious when he saw any water buffalo nearby. 

My father told me the story after he had taken me to a zoo and we actually came across a water buffalo in a fenced in field. 

I would later remember my father's water buffalo story when I had similar encounters with German cows during the late '80s.

More stories to follow. Stay tuned!

Eric Dempsey
Master Sergeant, U.S. Army Retired

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