LIVERMORE — Warren “Jake” Enos remembers lying in a bed on a hospital ship in Italy in 1944 and waking up to a young woman in a white nursing cap and gown stroking his face.

“She says to me, ‘Soldier how are you feeling?'” he said. “I told her this is the best I’ve felt for a year and a half, laying in white sheets and a pillow under my head after living in a hole in the ground, behind rocks and on top of mountains. This has been the best it has been to be able to sleep.”

Enos, 91, recently recalled his World War II experiences as a U.S. Army infantryman who fought in Anzio, Italy, and was wounded three times, twice on the same day. 

He entered the service in the spring of 1943 at the age of 18 and served in L Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Regiment, 3rd Infantry unit. Less than a year later, on Feb. 4, 1944, he was wounded by a projectile from a minefield. 

After troops landed on a beachhead in Anzio, the Army received word that Germany had two strong armies and the Allies could not break through the line.

“When we made a decision to stand still, we set out a minefield in front of our position, about 100 miles of mines,” Enos said.

The mines were put into the ground and when the wires were tripped, a projectile was launched that exploded like a grenade.

The Germans’ artillery came into that minefield, triggering the mines.

“I was wounded pretty seriously from either projectiles from the mines or artillery,” he said.

He was taken to an evacuation hospital, where several pieces of metal were removed.

From there, he was taken to a hospital in Naples. An American Red Cross worker asked if there was anything she could do for him and Enos told her he had an older brother, Elmer “Bus” Enos, in the 82nd Airborne Division. Two days later, his brother came into the room with some fruit, looked at the six men and didn’t recognize his brother because his head and neck were bandaged.

“My brother turned around to leave, not recognizing me,” Enos said he told him. “I spoke to him, ‘Bus I am here.’ He set the fruit down on a little table alongside of the bed and then he started to bend down to see if my legs were still there. ‘I am all here.’”

Enos was released from the hospital in late March and returned to battle.

The fight at Anzio lasted for four months until the Allies finally broke though the lines and advanced, he said.

“We were there from Jan. 22 until May 23, 1944. My company was designated to be the point company for the break out of the beachfront, which meant it was the first troop to go through enemy lines,” he said.

At one point, he was caught in an artillery barrage and fell into a huge shell hole.

“I laid in the shell hole and hollered for medics to come help me,” he said. “I had serious wounds.”

He was bandaged up and told he should get to the drainage ditch, and a medic ambulance crew would pick him up.

“I stood up, got out of the shell hole and took two machine gun bullets through the top of my left shoulder and one of those rounds had shaved the eyebrow off my left eye,” Enos said. “No blood came out. That knocked me down. We were in a winter wheatfield with sprouts about 6 inches high. I stayed on the ground and crawled back to the drainage ditch.”

He would learn from a superior officer that his fellow troops had arrived at their objective.

“We had broken through enemy lines,” he said. “We had done what were commanded to do.”

Enos’ tour of duty ended Dec. 28, 1945, but before he left the service he served as a truck driver in a military motor pool in Italy and transferred from the infantry to the U.S. Air Corps. He visited Anzio beach, where thousands of military personnel from all sides had died.

Enos visited the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 31 during an Honor Flight trip. At times, he said, he was overwhelmed by emotion and the thanks he and other veterans received.

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