OPERATIONS OF THE “ROCK FORCE”
RCT REINFORCED) IN THE RECAPTURE
CORREGIDOR ISLAND, 16 FEBRUARY - 8 MARCH 1945
(Personal Experience of an Assistant Regimental Operations Officer)
This monograph covers the operation of the “Rock Force”
(503d RCT reinforced) in the recapture of CORREGIDOR ISLAND 16 February
- 8 March 1945, during the LUZON CAMPAIGN.
Before continuing it is necessary to cover a few of the
major developments that led up to this operation.
On 20 October 1944 American troops of the Sixth US Army
under General Krueger landed on the east cost of LEYTE ISLAND in the
PHILIPPINES. (See Map A) (1)
During the closing days of the LEYTE Campaign, American
forces again struck the Japs. This time in a sweep “around end” General
MacArthur sent two RCT’s ashore unopposed in southern MINDORO. (See
Map A) (2) The purpose of this landing was air bases for the LUZON
Operation which was about to start.
1945 was days old when American I Corps and XIV Corps of the
Sixth Army waded ashore at LINGAYEN GULF. (See Map A) (3) The
mission of the Sixth Army was to push up the central plains, destroy the
Japanese troops and liberate MANILA.
On 29 January, troops of the XI Corps landed on the western
coast of LUZON near SUBIC BAY. (See Map A) (4) SUBIC BAY had
been a big UNITED STATES Naval base prior to the war with Japan. XI Corps
troops drove straight across BATAAN to seal off the peninsula.
The XI Corps
plan for the MARIVELES-CORREGIDOR operation was simple and
complete. The 1st RCT (reinforced) would drive down the east
coast of BATAAN. Elements of the 38th Division would embark at
SUBIC BAY, proceed down the west coast of BATAAN to its southern
tip where they would make an amphibious landing at MARIVELES. (See
Map B) (13) MARIVELES will be remembered as the starting
point for the infamous “death march” in 1942. The object of the
MARIVELES landing was to pocket the Japs on BATAAN and to
establish a base for the CORREGIDOR show. (14) The 3rd
Battalion, 34th Infantry, 24th Division accompanied the
amphibious force and was to stage at MARIVELES for the
shore-to-shore phase of the assault on CORREGIDOR. On D + 1 at
0830I the 503d RCT would make an airborne assault on TOPSIDE
CORREGIDOR. At 1030I the 3rd Battalion 34th Reinforced would
land amphibiously on SAN JOSE beach at the foot of MALINTA HILL,
CORREGIDOR. The XI Corps announced that several briefings would
be held, where all plans would be coordinated, and final detail
laid on. These meetings would include all three of the
participating services. The date and time would be announced.
These briefings spawned
the spirit that caused the CORREGIDOR operation to be called
SITUATION OF THE 503D RCT
Since this monograph covers an unusual
operation, it is necessary to vary slightly from the normal in telling
The 462nd Parachute Field Artillery and the
161st Airborne Engineer Company had joined the 503 Parachute Regiment at
the close of the NOEMFOOR operation in NEW GUINEA.
The newly created RCT had gone into LEYTE as Sixth Army Reserve
and had staged for the MINDORO landings which were completed on 15
December, 1944 (See Map A)
(16) The RCT met
little opposition at MINDORO, so the unit as a whole had not been battle
At the close of the MINDORO operation, during which time the RCT had
seen some of the hottest air battles of the Pacific, and had been on the
receiving end of a 8 hour shelling by the Japanese Navy, (17)
the 503d built a tent camp and began to conduct small unit
training. Replacements were
received from the Parachute School at Fort Benning.
Equipment and supplies were brought up to RCT standards.
A few key officers were shifted to equalize the number of
experienced personnel in each Battalion.
Several outstanding NCO’s were tended direct commissions and
transferred to another Battalion within the Regiment.
Officers and Non-commissioned officers schools were conducted.
These schools covered the RCT SOP, Jumpmaster training,