Many humans worldwide fear going to the Dentist for pretty obvious reasons: The pain, the worry that you’ll have to get a cavity filled, and just the general discomfort of having someone put their hands in your mouth. But for the Japanese forces during the Battle of Saipan, one such trip to the see the Dentist would prove quite deadly.
Benjamin Lewis Salomon was a Dentist by trade and member of the US Army Medical Corps in World War 2. Yet, when his field aid station was being overrun by thousands of Japanese, this man threw down the surgical gloves, picked up a machine gun and told 100 plus Japanese soldiers that the Dentist would see them now.
A Slow Start to War
Salomon was born into a Jewish family in 1914 Wisconsin. Growing up like many typical American youths of his day, he was an eagle scout, played sports, and graduated from Shorewood High School in Wisconsin. He then went on to receive his undergraduate degree before graduating from the University of Southern California Dental School. He set up his dental practice and began living the average all-American life.
As the clouds of war began to gather, Salomon found himself drafted into the infantry in 1940. And while he proved himself an apt infantryman in peacetime, he was notified in 1942 that the Army would be transferring him to the US Army Medical Corps to serve as a Dentist.
Given a commission as a first Lieutenant and he appeared to be on track to ride out the war fixing teeth. In May of 1943, he was sent to be the regimental dental officer for the 105th Infantry Regiment and was later promoted to Captain in 1944.
However, in 1944, the 105th would find itself off the shores of Saipan gearing up for one of the bloodiest battles of the war. With very little dental work to be done during active combat, Captain Salomon volunteered to replace the 2nd battalion surgeon who had been previously wounded.
As such, he went ashore to set up a combat aid station extremely close to the front lines. And this is where the story takes a remarkable turn that will prevent you from ever looking at your friendly local dentist in the same way.
A Time and Place for Every Season
With the Americans and Japanese in a pitched back and forth battle, this particular aid station was perhaps no more than 50 yards behind the front position on July 7th, 1944, when approximately 3,000 to 5,000 Japanese soldiers attacked the American position.
The aid station quickly began to fill with the wounded and Captain Salomon was hard at work treating them when he noticed a Japanese soldier bayonetting an injured soldier next to the aid tent. Salomon quickly picked up a rifle and killed the marauding Japanese soldier.
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