At 2200, McDoniel and Caldwell and twenty-seven enlisted men slipped off the hill [Hill 209] in groups of four. One poignant scene etched itself on the minds of Sergeant Watkins' comrades. Watkins, still alive in his paralyzed condition, refused efforts of evacuation, saying that he did not want to be a burden to those who had a chance to get away. He asked only that his carbine be loaded and placed on his chest with the muzzle under his chin. He smiled a last farewell to his buddies and wished them well when they started off the hill. [24-7]
McDoniel and Caldwell started off the hill together, their plan being to make their way to the river and follow it downstream.