Ken Lachmann, from Michigan, in a photo taken prior to his departure for the Pacific. Source: Kenneth Lachmann Collection.
Ken Lachmann on Bougainville with Company G tents in the background. Source: Kenneth Lachmann Collection.
Soldiers of the 1st Platoon of Company G, 182nd Infantry Regiment, at the unit's camp on Bougainville, 1944. (L to R): Ken Lachmann, unidentified soldier, Larsen, John Aria, Robert McMahon, with Woodward reclining on the log. Source: Ken Lachmann.
Ken Lachmann was awarded a Bronze Star for actions on Leyte in 1945. Source: Kenneth Lachmann Collection.
Ed Monahan's compass, borrowed by Ken Lachmann for a dangerous solo mission on 5 Mar 1945 on Leyte. Lachmann was shot, and evacuated off the island. He never had a chance to return the compass and a pocket knife to Monahan - until 2004, when he returned them safely to the Monahan family. Source: David Colamaria Collection.
Ken Lachmann, from Michigan, joined Company G as one of the replacements for the terrible casualties suffered on Hill 260. He had crossed the Pacific on the same ship as John Arria, who also joined Company G. Lachmann soon became the platoon runner. He was quickly initiated into combat, a frequent occurence on Bougainville. During one firefight, a bullet whizzed past and he felt a warm liquid spread across his uniform. He called for the medic, who pronounced that “Private Lachmann has been shot in the canteen.”
Lachmann was assigned to the 1st Platoon, and shared a large tent with a number of men, including platoon sergeant Ed Monahan. Their camp area was dotted with huge banyan trees. One day, as the men were sitting in their tent, they heard a huge cracking sound. Monahan desperately ordered everyone out, just in the nick of time, as a gigantic tree limb came crashing down and destroyed the tent.
On 5 March 1945, during the intense fighting on Leyte, Lachmann was instructed to scout out a possible route for retreat, and to lay communications wire. Ed Monahan, now the company first sergeant, loaned Lachmann his personal compass and pocketknife. In the ensuing battle, after successfully completing his mission, Lachmann was shot through the arm, and evacuated from the front lines. He was later awarded a Bronze Star for bravery.
Lachmann endured a difficult rehabilitation to regain full use of his arm. He spent time at Percy Jones Army Hospital in Battle Creek, MI. He eventually resettled in New Mexico, where he lives to this day. In 2004, he finally had the chance to return the compass and pocketknife, still in good condition, to the family of Ed Monahan.