The 35th Infantry Regiment Association salutes our fallen brother, SSG Thaddeus L. Tidwell, 6277841, who died in the service of his country on March 8th, 1945 in Luzon. The cause of death was listed as KIA. At the time of his death Thaddeus was 26 years of age. He was from Grapevine, Texas.
The decorations earned by SSG Thaddeus L. Tidwell include: the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Asiatic-Pacific Service Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.
Thaddeus was originally a member of George Company and was transferred to Charlie before the Luzon campaign.
The following story involving Thaddeus is from the compiltation "Tales of Red Marler" by Perry E Ball.
THE BATTLE OF THE ATABRINE TABLETS
Malaria was a serious medical problem for the 25th Division troops that served in the Guadalcanal and Vella LaVella campaigns. Part of the U.S. Army response to this problem was to require the men to take a daily atabrine (anti-malaria) tablet, both in the field and in New Zealand. This tablet had two side effects. First, it was very bitter, with an unpleasant taste that remained in the mouth long after it had been swallowed. Second, it made the soldiers white skin turn yellow. The yellowing of the soldiers skin was so pronounced that 25th Division soldiers on leave in downtown Auckland could easily be picked out from the other U.S. soldiers that did not have to take atabrine. The 25th Division troops also had no confidence in the alleged benefits of taking atabrine, since it did not prevent many of them from contracting malaria in Guadalcanal and Vella LaVella.
Consequently, the men from G Company did their best to avoid taking their atabrine tablets. Sgt. John F. McConeghey of Iowa recalls that the men were issued their daily atabrine tablets while they stood in formation for roll call each morning. Marler, Dunn and some of the other men would toss the tablets over their shoulders as they pretended to put the tablets in their mouths. They then raised their canteens and pretended to swallow the tablets. This practice went undetected for so long that the ground behind the formation area began to turn partly yellow.
PFC John M. Kraly of Kansas recalls that M/Sgt. Thaddeus L. Tidwell of Texas, who replaced M/Sgt. Vilnes in New Zealand when M/Sgt. Vilnes was promoted to Warrant Officer, took the atabrine tablets very seriously. One day after the men had been issued their daily tablets, M/Sgt. Tidwell began pacing back and forth in front of the company while he explained the importance of taking the tablets. Marler was standing in the front row of the Weapons Platoon formation, which was at the far end of the Company formation. M/Sgt. Tidwell was about to walk past Marler when he suddenly stopped, interrupted his speech and said, "Look at Marler! He looks normal! The rest of us look like Chinamen!" From that day on, M/Sgt. Tidwell began to suspect that Marler was not taking his tablets. He also determined to make sure he took them.
Shortly thereafter, a new atabrine distribution procedure was established. As the men stood in company formation each morning after the completion of roll call, the men would open ranks and the 1st Squad of each platoon would take two steps forward, the 2nd Squad would take one step forward and the 3rd Squad would remain in place. The tech sergeant in charge of each platoon would then go to the first man at the beginning of the first rank and place an atabrine tablet in his
mouth. He would then watch the man take a drink from his canteen and swallow the tablet. Finally, he would take a flashlight and shine it into the mans mouth to make sure he had swallowed the tablet. This procedure was repeated for each man in the platoon.
Kraly remembers seeing Marler "swallow" the tablets, but suspects that he found a way to beat the new procedure. He recalls that even while Marler stood at attention "with his jaw clamped shut, he still looked like he was grinning from ear to ear."
Dunn remembers the new procedure and confirms that Marler found a way to beat it. He recalls that S/Sgt. Owens, the Platoon Sergeant for the Weapons Platoon, "would make you put your tongue out and then stick it on your tongue. It tasted so bad that you had to take a drink and swallow it to get it off your tongue." Other tech sergeants would try to toss the tablets into the back of the mens throats, causing the men to choke and forcing them to swallow the tablets. In either case, Marler and Dunn would try to shift the tablets in between their gums and their cheeks as they put their canteens in front of their mouths. Dunn explains that "the trick was to clamp your cheek to your gums to keep the water from gettin on it, because it was real bitter when it began to dissolve." As soon as S/Sgt. Owens walked by, Marler and Dunn would get rid of the tablets as fast as they could. As soon as they broke ranks, they would go back to their squad tents and try to rinse the bitterness out of their mouths.
In the end, it was clear to all that Marler had won the battle of the atabrine tablets. He never turned yellow.