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Bentley man wounded in Italy during WWII

Posted 11/8/2018

Phil Dosien shows the Bronze Star he earned during WWII. His division helped attack the Germans’ last line of defense in Italy.Phil Dosien shows the Bronze Star he earned during WWII. His division helped attack the Germans’ last line of defense in Italy.By Jared Janzen

BENTLEY—Despite his experience fighting in the deadliest war in human history, Phil Dosien of Bentley hasn’t allowed that to darken his view of humanity.

“I’ve always been a pretty optimistic kind of guy,” he said.

Dosien served in the 91st Infantry Division during World War II, fighting in Italy. He was wounded during battle and was honored with several medals, including a Purple Heart, Bronze Star, and a Presidential Unit Citation.

“You can’t imagine how horrible it was,” Dosien said about the war. “When I talk about it now, it just seems like a dream.”

Now 94, Dosien has lived in the Bentley area his entire life. He grew up on a farm a half-mile east of Bentley and was drafted into the war at age 19 in August 1943. He noted that a lot of his friends from the area were also drafted, but none of them went to the same place.

Dosien was sent to Camp Adair for basic training, which is about 90 miles south of Portland Oregon.

“I learned how to walk,” he said with a laugh about his time there. “We walked a thousand miles every day, it seemed like.”

As a machine gunner for the weapons platoon, he learned how to dismantle a machine gun so well that he could do it in the dark.

His company moved out by rail to Norfolk, Virginia in April 1944, and soon after they boarded a ship to make the 18-day journey to Oran, Algeria in Africa.

“We made a convoy of, I don’t know, maybe a hundred ships,” Dosien said. “As far as I could see both ways.”

When asked how many soldiers were on each ship, his response was “too many.”

“We were all crammed in there,” he said. “A liberty ship’s not very big when you’re talking about ships. The guy above me barely had room to slide into his bunk.”

Arriving in Africa, Dosien’s division continued training and practiced landing maneuvers for two solid weeks, boarding a boat at night and then climbing back down by rope ladder at 4 a.m. They would then hit the beach and simulate a landing. They were preparing for an invasion of the southern coast of France, but due to a change of plans the division instead was sent to Italy.

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