The 35th Infantry Regiment Association salutes our fallen brother, PFC Earl Deane Sands, who died in the service of his country on February 23rd, 1945 in Luzon. The cause of death was listed as KIA. At the time of his death Earl was 20 years of age. He was from Dilworth, Minnesota.
The decorations earned by PFC Earl Deane Sands include: the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Asiatic-Pacific Service Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.
Buried at Manila American Cemetery and Memorial
(From Wilbur Balls "Life In The Jungles", a history of G Company.)
The 35th Regiment moved 10 miles further southeast to Rizal and prepared to advance northward along Route 100 leading toward Balete Pass........ As we advanced along the narrow winding road during the first day, the column came to a sudden halt. The riflemen walking on both sides of the road had discovered camouflaged Japanese mines connected to concealed trip wires. PFC Earl Sands found himself in the center of the minefield. Reacting nervously, he attempted to jump free of the minefield catching a trip wire with his foot. We helplessly witnessed the explosion that followed blowing off both of Earls feet just above the ankles............PFC Sands died of his wounds later that day. I visited his grave at the U.S. Military Cemetery near Manila, Philippines, in 1958.
Earl was in the 2nd Squad, Third Platoon.
THE TRAGIC DEATH OF PFC. SANDSi
Near Pantabangan, Luzon, the Philippines, 22-23 February 1945
The 35th Regiment was now ready to advance into the Caraballo Mountains. Their
objective was to advance northward from Rizal to Pantabangan, and capture Pantabangan. The
35th Regiment's strategy to take Pantabangan consisted of two parts. The 1st Battalion, led by B
Company, was to move toward Pantabangan following the Pampanga River. The 2nd Battalion,
led by E and F Companies, was to progress along Highway 100, a dirt road, or trail, linking Rizal
to Pantabangan. E Company was to advance on the left of the road, F Company was to advance
on the right of the road, and G Company was to follow the lead companies closely on the road.
G Company left the Bongabon defensive perimeter at 1530 on 22 February and was
transported approximately 17 miles by truck to the Sierra Madre Mountain Range north of Rizal.
They arrived at 1830 and established a defensive perimeter. G Company left this perimeter and
began the approximately five-mile march to Pantabangan at 0800 on 23 February. The 3rd
Platoon was assigned to lead the G Company advance and SSGT Marcus A. Klawitter's 2nd
Squad of the 3rd Platoon was tasked as the lead squad. Klawitter, 1st Scout Pfc. Kraly, and 2nd
Scout Pfc. Sands were leading the advance. The rest of G Company followed in two lines, one on
each side of the road, with staggered, ten-yard intervals between the men.ii
The G Company column advanced a few miles up the winding road without incident until
Klawitter and his scouts reached an intersection at the top of the ridge at 0915. G Company then
took its hourly ten-minute break to give the men a rest. Some of the men sat down, some stood
around visiting with friends, and others wandered off the road to find a place to relieve
Klawitter and his two scouts remained at the head of the column. Kraly was standing
ahead and to the left, Sands was standing ahead to the right, and Klawitter was standing slightly
behind, equidistant between the two. Sands moved into the shrubbery on the high ground on the
right side of the road to find a place to relieve himself, but froze after having taken just a few
steps. He turned to Klawitter and said, "I'm up against a trip wire." Kraly looked to his right and
saw a barely visible trip wire against Sands' left ankle. They did not know it at the time, but the
trip wire was connected to a powerful, improvised anti-personnel mine buried just beneath the
surface of the ground. Klawitter said, "Don't move. Move your foot back real easy." Then the
mine went off, tearing up his face, blinding his eyes, and mangling both of his legs below the
knees. The explosion also ripped off all of his clothes, except for some strings, broke his rifle
into pieces, and left a six-foot-wide and three-foot-deep hole in the ground. Pfc. Roach recalled
looking up the road and seeing Sands lying in the road, screaming, with the lower part of both
legs blown off.
Kraly, standing the closest to Sands, was badly injured, with one shrapnel wound in his
right side and three more through both of his legs. He tried to use the butt of his rifle to pull
himself up but he could not do so. His rifle had been broken in half by the explosion and was
only held together by the shoulder strap. It was a surprise to many others that he was not more
seriously injured given the magnitude of the explosion and the damage to his rifle.
Klawitter was bruised and hit by a piece of hot shrapnel just above the ear on the right
side of his head. It left a mark along the side of his head that looked as if someone had branded
him with a hot fireplace poker. He was able to get up and went to assist to Sands, who was the
most badly injured.Successive aerial photos of the road, or trail, leading north from Rizal to Pantabangan, as seen from the south
Two soldiers came up, grabbed Kraly by the arms, and started dragging him to the road.
Kraly was in pain and he said, "Stop! You are killing me!" One of the men then took his jacket
off and put it underneath Kraly's body. They then half-drug and half-carried him to the road.
The G Company Medics were called from the Medic's clearing station 200 yards to the
rear. They arrived and administered morphine to Kraly and Sands. Medic Pfc. Maki then cut
away part of Sands' mangled feet and applied tourniquets to both of his legs. The Medics then
placed him on his own shelter-half. Klawitter and three soldiers, each holding a corner of the
canvas, carried Sands down the center of the road to the rear. Four other soldiers did the same
thing for Kraly.
Every man in G Company saw and heard Sands as he was carried
down the center of the road between the two lines of onlooking men.
Sgt. Ball recalled hearing him cry out as they passed, "Oh, Lord,
I don't want to die!"
Cpl. Charles R. Sheaffer, a heavy machine gunner, whose 1st Section, Heavy Machine
Gun Platoon, H Company was attached to G company the previous day, recalls that word came
down the road that Pfc. Sands had been critically wounded. Sheaffer's section was standing on
the right side of the road as the litter bearers carried the wounded men down the hill toward the
Medic station. Sheaffer heard Sands cry to his mother as he passed immediately in front of him.
Sands' screams contined as the litter bearers continued on down the hill.
Every man who was there remembered Sands' cries as he was carried down the center of
the road between the two lines of onlooking men. Sgt. Ball recalled hearing him cry out as they
passed, "Oh, Lord, I don't want to die!" Sgt. Hardin wrote in his diary that Sands was a bloody
pulp, that he was groaning continuously as he was carried by, and that he cried out, "My God,
won't someone help me?" Hardin added that, "It was the most the most pitiful and agonizing
pleading cry I have ever heard." Kraly recalled hearing him say, "I can't see! Mom, please help
me! Please help me!" It was an experience none of them would ever forget.
Hardin continued in his diary that Kraly was "blown up pretty badly and was a little
hysterical from the shock and morphine" and that Klawitter "was bruised and battered pretty bad,
but was carrying one corner of the litter."
Klawitter, Kraly, and Sands were all transferred to litters, placed in an enclosed
ambulance, and transported to clearing station of the 25th Medical Battalion. Klawitter was on
one side, and Kraly and Sands were on the other, with Kraly above Sands. Sands and Kraly were
sent from the clearing station to the 37th Field Hospital and Sands died of his wounds on the way
to the hospital. His body was buried in the U.S. Armed Forces Cemetery in Santa Barbara and
later reburied in U.S. Armed Forces Cemetery near Manila. Many of the G Company dead were
eventually reburied in this place.
It was later discovered by the 35th Regiment Headquarters Company Intelligence Officer
that the improvised anti-personnel mine consisted of a 105 mm artillery shell buried in the
ground and stacked with sticks of a brown plastic explosive, most likely picric acid, as a booster.
An instantaneous pull-type igniter was used to detonate the shell and a thin, light-brown, silk
cord was stretched six inches above the ground as a trip-cord.m
U.S. Corps of Engineers sketch of the Japanese improvised anti-personnel mine that killed Pfc. Earl Sands an