Fern's [2nd Platoon , A Company, 9th Infantry of the 2nd Division] decided shortly before dawn that he must try to escape before daylight. He sent word by a runner back to Freeman, who should have been about 500 yards in the rear, to rejoin the platoon. The runner returned and said he could not find Freeman. There had been no firing to the rear, so Fern knew that Freeman had not encountered enemy troops. Two men searched a second time for Freeman without success. Fern then decided that he would have to try to lead those with him to safety.