The Suburbanite
  • WW II: Sidney “Sid” Savage saw much suffering as a combat medic

  • Sidney “Sid” Savage of Lake Township, who served as a combat medic in the Pacific Theater during World War II, saw both sides of such conflicts from the very start of his Army training in the United States.

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  • Sidney “Sid” Savage of Lake Township, who served as a combat medic in the Pacific Theater during World War II, saw both sides of such conflicts from the very start of his Army training in the United States.
    “In the morning I took infantry training, and I learned how to kill,” he explained. In the afternoon I trained with the medical detachment, learning how to save lives.”
    Twenty-two when he was drafted in 1941, the Akron native was shipped overseas in 1942. He first was slated to go to Northern Africa but was sent to the Pacific instead.
    “Our first combat was when we went to Guadalcanal to relieve the 1st Marines,” Savage said. “When we got off the landing craft, they got on.”
    A member of the infantry, Savage carried a .45-caliber pistol and a lightweight carbine rifle.
    “I never fired them in combat,” said the man who also had emergency medical duties to perform, “because people were falling all around me.”
    In combat, a man finds himself quickly, said Savage.
    “You don’t know what you can do until you have to do it,” he said. “And you don’t know how much you can take until you have to take it.”
    Men learn in earnest, he said, depending on “the power of prayer and faith in the foxhole.”
    “Another fellow and I were the first two Jewish kids to leave the city of Akron,” he said, noting that the Jewish community gave them both a pocket prayer book, a soiled and battered volume which he held out as he spoke.
    “During the war, in combat, this became my prized possession. It’s held together with medical adhesive. It’s muddy,” Savage said, pointing out a dirt fingerprint on an inside page. “Here’s a prayer for being delivered from danger. It lends itself to war.”
    Other items in the small book include “Prayer for Sick and Wounded” and “Confessions on a Deathbed.”
    “I would tell the guys I worked on, ‘You keep on praying, the Lord will hear you.’”
    On the battlefield, Savage often worked with a chaplain who was a Catholic priest. He would be on the other side of the soldier, administering last rites.
    “I would be patching them up, knowing they weren’t going to live, but talking to them all the time as though they were,” said Savage. “These were guys you laughed with in the morning and buried at night.”
    Savage recalled one soldier in his company who had been given up for dead. The medic said he was “ready to put his rifle in the ground” as a sign for body handlers when he saw the man make the sign of the cross. Savage’s observation of the gesture likely saved the man’s life.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Months later, I got a letter from my mother. He had written to her saying that he could hear everything we were saying around him but he couldn’t answer. He lived for about 30 years after that and raised a family.”
    Savage spent 592 days in the combat zone, so long that his fellow soldiers started calling him “Doc.” When he returned to the United States after the war, he married his first wife, Betty, and they raised two children, Douglas Savage and Debra Hurtt. After she died in 1976, he met Nancy, with whom he has been married for 20 years.
    He worked for May Co. as a buyer for the O’Neil’s store in Akron. He also was a buyer for Livingston company before he settled in at Buxbaum rubber company, which became Akro Corp. He worked there for 30 years before retiring as senior vice president of sales in 1986.
    Many of his memories of WWII have become vague over the decades. Yet some remain vivid, causing him to decline to give details when he speaks to students at schools or people attending Veterans Day programs.
    “I tell them when they hear taps played, they hear a haunting melody. When I hear taps played, I see faces,” explained Savage. “I saw the worst of it. I saw everything you could see.”
    Technician 5th grade
    Surgical technician
    Combat medic
    Company B
    1st Battalion
    145th Infantry Regiment
    37th Infantry Division
    Pacific Theater
    Solomon Islands, Philippines, Fiji Islands, New Zealand
    HONORS Asiatic-Pacific Theater Medal with four bronze stars, Philippine Liberation Medal, Victory Medal
    AGE 94

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