HARTFORD, Conn. -- The Army sergeant who risked his life to rescue Bob Dole from a World War II battlefield said yesterday that he only did it because he didn't want his men to "know I was scared."
E. Frank Carafa, 75, who Dole brought with him to his debate with President Clinton last night, tearfully recounted his tale of reluctant heroism in an interview aboard Dole's campaign plane.
"I heard he was hurt, calling for help and calling my name," Carafa said of Lt. Dole, whose squad had come under rifle and mortar fire in Italy in 1945. "I just ignored him. I didn't want to get shot."
"I don't know how much time elapsed," Carafa continued, "but then my men started calling me, telling me the lieutenant was hurt and that he was calling for me. With that, I knew I had to do something. I didn't want my men to know I was scared."
From his position in the base area, Carafa could see three-quarters of Dole's squad strewn about the battlefield.
"I didn't know what to do, I was so scared," he said. "I just prayed to God."
The sergeant started going after the fallen men, starting with the closest, about 10 feet away. He found several soldiers alive and dragged them to the base. Finally, only Dole was left. As the leader, he had been first onto the battlefield and was farthest away.
When Carafa reached Dole, he said, "The only reason I knew he was alive was because he was moaning." Dole's shattered right arm was outstretched.
"Not knowing where he was wounded, I grabbed his right arm and tried dragging," Carafa said.
This maneuver would have been difficult under any circumstances, because Dole was over 6 feet tall, and Carafa was 5 feet 4 inches tall and 135 pounds. It was excruciatingly painful for Dole, because of his injuries.
"He gave out a scream and, thank God, he passed out," Carafa said.
With bullets still whizzing by, the sergeant kept pulling the fallen soldier. "But being so scared and out of breath I just couldn't budge him," said Carafa, who had to stop his story -- his eyes filled with tears -- to compose himself.
He finally rolled Dole to the base area, aided by a slight downhill incline. When they got there, they were met by Sgt. Stanley Kuschick, Carafa's second-in-command.
"I said, 'Sergeant, give him a shot of morphine because he's gone. At least he'll have some comfort.' "
Carafa, who lives in New Rochelle, N.Y., didn't find out that the soldier he rescued went on to become a senator from Kansas, vice presidential nominee, Senate majority leader and presidential candidate until 1988, when Dole reassembled the 10th Mountain Division for a reunion.
"I thought the name of the man I saved was Doyle," Carafa said.
Pub Date: 10/07/96