The Engineer company [D Company, 8th Engineer Combat Battalion] started its attack up the mountain about noon, 4 September, following a trail up a southern spur. The 1st Platoon was in the lead, single file, followed by the 2d and 3d Platoons. Colonel Palmer considered the mission so important that he and his G-2, Capt. Rene J. Guiraud, accompanied the engineers. Platoon Sgt. James N. Vandygriff, 2d Platoon, D Company, in a brief conversation with Colonel Holley as he went ahead of the latter on his way up the trail, said he thought it was a suicide mission.
Less than a mile up the trail, D Company came under machine gun fire from its right front, which inflicted several casualties. Lieutenant Kennedy rejected Vandygriff's request to take a squad and knock out the gun, so the file got past the line of fire as best it could until BAR fire from the 3d Platoon silenced the weapon. Farther up the trail another enemy machine gun fired from the right along the trail and held up the advance until radio-adjusted artillery fire silenced it.
The file of men, with Lt. Robert Peterson of the I&R Platoon as guide, left the trail-like road, which dead-ended, dropped over into a ravine on the left, and continued the climb. Enemy mortar fire killed two men and wounded eight or ten others in this phase of the ascent. At this time the 2d Platoon leader collapsed from a kidney ailment and command passed to Sergeant Vandygriff.