WARRIOR WEDNESDAY: CAPTAIN BENJAMIN L. SALOMON (PART 3 OF 3)
This is the final chapter of our 3 part series on the Battle of Saipan if you haven't read parts 1 and 2 they can be found here
This is the "couldn't make this up if it wasn't true" story of US Army Dentist, Captain Benjamin L. Salomon. While he looked like a very mild mannered Clark Kent type nerd, underneath his calm exterior lay a tough and indefatigable warrior.
Salomon was born on September 1, 1914 to a nice quiet Jewish family in Milwaukee. He graduated from the USC Dental School in 1937 and began a dental practice, but in 1940, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and became a fucking grunt, where he routinely qualified expert in rifle and pistol. On August 14, 1942, the 102nd Infantry Regt. commanding officer declared him the unit's "best all-around soldier” you know how hard it is to beat everyone in your fucking regiment? It’s pretty fucking hard. Later in 1942, he was notified that he would be leaving the infantry to be an officer in the Army Dental Corps and was commissioned a first lieutenant. He wasn't happy about it and He had come to love being a grunt and tried to deny the transfer but as we all know the needs of the Army come before your own.
In May 1943, he was serving as the regimental dental officer of the 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division. He was promoted to the rank of Captain in 1944 but he still went out for every PT session with the line units and routinely won regimental physical fitness competitions even though he was a mouth doctor competing against active duty infantrymen.
In June 1944, the 105th stormed the beaches of Saipan. They engaged in some of the most intense US fighting witnessed on any front of World War II. The 105th fought against Japanese die-hards who were absolutely determined to make the Americans pay dearly for every inch of ground they gained.
The soldiers of the U.S. Army 27th Division, including the 105th, along with the Marines 4th Division fought their way through the beaches of Saipan, but the fighting was so intense that they suffered over 50% casualties within the first couple days. Ben Salomon wasn’t exactly thrilled to be stuck in a dental office onboard in the rear echelon, hoping that someone needed their cavities filled while his fellow soldiers were out there fighting and dying. The good Captain offered to transfer to surgical service and help patch up the wounded. If he couldn't fight, he'd at least help get others back in the fight.
His request was granted when the main surgeon was wounded. Salomon was the next best thing to a surgeon they had, so the dentist was sent ashore to work at an emergency field hospital less than 50 meters behind the front line entrenchments. With gunfire and explosions ripping up the jungle less than half a football field beyond him, Salomon worked feverishly day and night to clamp down severed arteries, set broken bones, and seal punctured lungs. It was bloody, dangerous work that required a delicate touch and finesse and it was done while enemy rounds whizzed THROUGH the tent, attack aircraft engaged in dogfights overhead, and artillery barrages shook the ground beneath his feet as he was performing surgery.
Despite taking ludicrously high numbers of casualties, the Japanese attack finally reached U.S. trenches, and swarms of soldiers dove in, bayonets ready for brutal hand to hand combat. In this action the subjects of our previous posts, SGT Thomas Baker and LTC O’Brien would earn their legendary reputation and Medals of Honor. Salomon, back in the tent, was reaching for a scalpel, and looked up in time to see a Japanese soldier storm through the tent flap and immediately bayonet an unarmed, wounded American soldier as he lay out on his stretcher. Ben instinctively grabbed a discarded M1 rifle off a nearby table, crouched, and fired. He killed the enemy Solider immediately. Well, shit, game on right? because the enemy were swarming through the rear echelon and it was "KILL EVERYTHING" time. So Ben got busy.
Salomon turned back to see two more Japanese troops bust into the tent, guns at the ready. They were so close that Salomon swung his rifle like a fucking Louisville Slugger, clubbing the first guy, jamming the second Infantryman in the stomach with his rifle butt before turning around to put a .30-06 round into the chest of the first soldier and killing the second with the bayonet on his rifle. Four more enemy soldiers were crawling under the damn sides of the tent in order to catch him in a pincer move. One of the soldiers had a knife in his hand, so Salomon ran over and kicked it out of his hand then pumped him with a .30-06 at point blank range. Captain Salomon bayoneted another Japanese soldier, dropped the rifle, picked up the knife he had kicked out of the hands of the 1st enemy combatant, and turned to fight the other two infantrymen who were rushing him. Salomon killed one with his captured knife by gutting him like a fish and headbutted the last one, staggering him back. As the enemy soldier tried to collect his senses he was killed by one of Salomon's patients, who pulled out his .45 and shot him in the chest.⠀⠀
At some point shortly after Salomon's epic Murder-fest, a radio transmission told the survivors to regroup in a village that was a few hundred meters up a hill. Salomon started to get the wounded men in the tent on their feet and get to safety. Unfortunately, most of the patients were so badly wounded that they had to be pulled from combat and thus were in no condition to run. They’d needed extra time to get clear, and Captain Ben Salomon was going to give it to them single handedly. He grabbed an M1, ensured it was loaded, and ran towards the frontlines that were being overrun with massing Japanese Infantry. Salomon and a few desperate survivors were going to fight a rearguard action.
Salomon fought his way to the overrun front lines where he shot and bayoneted his way through to a machine gun position. The thirty patients in the hospital were able to escape thanks to Captain Benjamin Salomon's desperate last stand. When the last orderly left the hospital tent, he looked back over his shoulder to witness Captain Salomon single-handedly manning the belt-fed .30-caliber M1917 machine gun, spraying fire in sweeping arcs into the swarming enemy forces that threatened to overwhelm his position. He punished them with hard-hitting .30-06 devastation, the rounds chewed through the scant cover the Japanese attackers tried to use. Captain Salomon courageously maintained his position long enough for his patients to get clear. For a short time Captain Benjamin Salomon, a dentist, held back the teeming horde of Japanese Diehards like he was a living avatar of the God of War.
On the afternoon of July 8, 1944, the United States Army assaulted the Japanese and recaptured their positions and were finally able to crush the last remnants of the defending Japanese military presence on Saipan. When Captain Edmund Love surveyed the scene after the battle, he discovered Captain Benjamin L. Salomon’s body slumped over his machine gun. Love counted 98 Japanese dead sprawled out before Salomon's position. 98. Including the Japanese soldiers he killed in the tent, this Army dentist turned surgeon converted over one hundred of Emperor Hirohito’s toughest fanatical infantrymen into fucking worm food.
Looking at the scene, it was clear to Captain Love and all witnesses that Salomon had single-handedly repositioned the 103 lbs. .30-caliber machine gun no less than four separate times, because enemy dead had piled up so high that he couldn’t get a clear line of fire through the stacks of ruptured corpses. Salomon's body had 76 bullet wounds and many bayonet wounds, up to 24 of which may have been received while he was still alive.
Captain love submitted documentation for Salomon to receive his Medal of Honor. Instead, it was kicked back and languished for decades due to Army bureaucracy and technicality of regulations because some nerds were butthurt and thought that his use of a crew served weapon in self-defense of his patients and staff violated Geneva Conventions. It wasn’t until 2002, almost 60 years after his death, that Captain Salomon was honored for his courageous actions in Saipan. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
About the author: Andy, is a US Army Infantryman and your local Friendly Neighborhood Rooftop Korean. When he's not burning through his savings at the range, you can find him online sharing memes, playing video games, and writing stories about the baddest warriors throughout history. You can follow all of Andy's NSFW content at @call_me_ak on Instagram.