NY Army Guard says farewell to 100-year old National Guard veteran of Pacific War

By Petty Officer 1st Class Stephanie Butler and Eric DurrMay 20, 2024

NY Army National Guard Soldiers perform funeral honors for 100-year old veteran
New York Army National Guard Sgt. Carlos Garcia, left, and Spc. Samantha Bruce, perform military funeral honors at the burial of Wilfred “Spike” Mailloux, a 100-year old New York National Guard veteran of the World War II Battle of Saipan at St. Michael’s Cemetery in Waterford, New York on May 7, 2024. Mailloux survived the war’s largest Japanese banzai attack, which killed 502 Soldiers in the New York National Guard’s 105th Infantry Regiment on July 7, 1944. ( U.S. Army National Guard photo by Stephanie Butler) (Photo Credit: Petty Officer 1st Class Stephanie Butler) VIEW ORIGINAL

WATERFORD, New York --A hundred-year old New York National Guard, World War II veteran, who survived the bloody Battle of Saipan in 1944, was honored by a New York Army National Guard Honor Guard team as he was laid to rest on May 7, 2024.

Cpl. Wilfred “Spike” Mailloux, who served in B Company of the 27th Infantry Division’s 105th Infantry Regiment, was a 20-year old Soldier on July 7, 1944, when the regiment’s 1st Battalion was overrun in the largest Japanese charge of World War II.

Mailloux, was one of the 512 Soldiers wounded when over 4,000 Japanese soldiers staged a “banzai” charge against the positions of the 1st and 2nd battalions towards the end of the month-long battle. Another 402 members of the National Guard regiment were killed.

A Japanese officer stabbed Mailloux in the thigh with a knife and he lay in a ditch for hours. He survived because another Soldier from his Cohoes, New York-based company went looking for survivors.

Providing funeral honors at Mailloux’s burial at St. Michael’s Cemetery in Waterford, was “a great honor,” said Sgt. Carlos Garcia, an infantryman who led the two-Soldier detail.

He and Spc. Samantha Bruce were aware of Mailloux’s history, and wanted to make sure the service they provided was perfect, he said.

“We try to be perfect,” he said. “ For every family every service is special.”

Former Associated Press reporter Chris Carola, who got to know Mailloux in 2014, and met him regularly until his death, described him as “a sweet old guy, always very cheerful, just a nice guy.”

Mailloux, Carola said, was proud of his military service.

“He always wore a ballcap with his regiment and division on it, or a ballcap with an American flag on it, said Carola. “He was a great American, proud of his Army service, proud of being a combat vet,” he added.

Mailloux was the last survivor of the B Company Guardsmen who were mobilized in October of 1940 by President Franklin Roosevelt, after France fell to the Nazis.

He had enlisted in August of 1940—lying about being older than his 16 years—so he could earn $5 for drilling at the Cohoes Armory, according to Carola.

He was very proud to be B Company’s bugler, Carola said.

“He would practice in the basement of the Cohoes armory that way no one could hear his mistakes,” Carola said.

He was a real life “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B”, just like in the 1941 Andrews Sisters Song, he added.

Mailloux told a story about how he was on Guard duty one night at Fort McClellan, Alabama when a fire broke out in the mess hall, Mailloux started bugling, Carola recalled.

“’All the guys come charging out of the barracks in the middle of the night yelling what is that call, what is that call? Once they got outside, they realized there was a fire, so they put out the fire,’” Carola said.

With Mailloux’s history as a bugler in mind, the Honor Guard found a real bugler—from Buglers Across America—for the funeral instead of using the standard issue electronic bugle, which plays a recorded version of taps.

While Mailloux was proud of his service in World War II, he didn’t like talking about Saipan, Carola said.

He was ready, though, to talk about the battle with his friend Staff Sgt. John Sidur, another B Company Soldier from Cohoes who saved his life after the attack, Carola added.

Sidur died in 2015 at the age of 97.

After leaving the Army in August 1945, Mailloux came back to Cohoes, got married, and worked for General Electric as a systems analyst until 1986.

In January, Carola recalled, he told the story of Spike Mailloux, to a group of New York Army National Guard recruiters, attending a conference, he ran into at a Saratoga Springs restaurant.

“I asked the NCO in charge, do you mind if I get the guys to raise a toast in Spike’s honor,” Corola said.

The sergeant got everybody to be quiet, then he stood up and told Mailloux’s story, Carola recalled.

“I asked everyone to raise their glass, and they did. And then they did the Army Hooah!,” Carola said.