Samuel J. Price
Samuel Joseph Price, “Sam” was born November 10, 1918 at 1710 Master Street in Camden, NJ to parents William K. Jr. and Anna (Haug) Price. While he appears to have been named after his uncle, his birth certificate shows however, that his original birth name was in fact William Price. Sam was the youngest of the Price siblings of which included a brother, William “Lester,” who was born in 1908 and a sister, Anna born in 1912. The family was residing at 861 Vanhook Street in Camden, NJ according to the 1920 Census.
|18 Valley Road, Mt. Ephraim|
Combat engineers are soldiers who are trained to perform construction, repair and demolition tasks in combat environments. Typically, a combat engineer is also trained as an infantryman, and often have a secondary role fighting as infantry when needed.
|112th Engineer Bat. Emblem|
On April 10, 1942 the personnel assigned to 117th Engineers from 112th and 121st Engineers arrived at Indiantown Gap. Private First Class Sam Price was re-assigned from the 112th Engineer Battalion to Company “C” of this newly formed 117th Combat Engineering Battalion. After about a month of additional training, the 117th departed on May 8th by rail to Oakland, California and arrived on the afternoon of May 12th. Once in Oakland, the troops were quartered in the International Harvester building. They stayed there until getting orders on May 24th to report to the San Francisco Port for assignment overseas. That evening, Company C boarded the SS President Monroe (APA-104) and set sail as part of Task Force 6429 for a destination unknown.
|117th Engineer Bulldozer|
|117th Engineer road construction|
|117th Engineers land at Lingayen Gulf|
Immediately upon disembarkation, Sam’s company developed a road to bypass the damaged bridge at San Lupis. The next mission was to fix the Calmay River Bridge where they set up a “Bailey Bridge” (portable, pre-built truss bridge) across the damaged span to quickly get supplies moving into the area. Next was to repair the 120 foot-long Toroyo River Bridge on San Carlos Road. The company had this up and running by January 13th followed by construction of a timber bridge at Bilad on the 17th.
Company C Engineers sent out a six jeep recon party to “peep” the enemy on January 25th. They were ambushed at a roadblock west of Malabacat but were able to escape without receiving any casualties. They continued onto Santa Maria, where they were ambushed once again by Japanese tanks. This time, the men had to abandon their vehicles after the jeeps became bogged down and had to withdraw on foot, six miles back to the American line. Several men were injured from this attack. The more seriously wounded men were hidden in ditches and covered with grass and leaves until they could be evacuated later that day.
The men would move on to Magalang two days later, to repair a secondary road with the 148th Infantry Regiment. By February 3rd, they were ordered to pick up all available demolition and move out toward Manila for any demolition work needed.
After an hour delay, in which two attempts were made to neutralize enemy fire power, the initial troops were ferried across the river in assault boats manned by men of Company C at 3pm. Five crossings were made by each of the 30 boats in order to get all infantry troops across the Pasig and clear the southern portion of the city. Each crossing was made under heavy enemy machine gun and 20mm dual purpose gun fire.
|117th Eng & 37 Inf. Div. soldiers|
crossing the Pasig River
The first boat, helmed by engineers Tec-5 Charles C. Talbott and PFC Ralph E. True, had successfully made it across the river -- although several of them would be injured. The other boat, operated by Tec-5 Samuel J. Price and Pvt. Antonio H. Guevara was not so fortunate. A mortar shell found its target, exploding bits of metal shrapnel into the craft. Fragments from the round struck both engineers in the head and chest, instantly killing them as well as two of the 129th soldiers aboard. The survivors had to swim to the island. The 117th Engineer commanders decided to cease crossing operations at 2pm due to continued intensive enemy mortar fire.
Corporal Price was shipped back to San Francisco aboard an Army transit and then transported across country with a military escort. The services were held on the morning of June 26, 1948 at Foster’s Funeral Home in Audubon, NJ. A procession made its way from Audubon to Lakeview Memorial Park in Cinnaminson, NJ for interment where military rites were performed by the Mount Ephraim V.F.W. Post 6262. Sam was posthumously awarded with the Purple Heart as well as a Distinguished Unit Citation received by the 117th Engineers for outstanding actions taken in Luzon from January 9 to March 3, 1945.
|Samuel Price Grave Marker|