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During my stint on this duty I noticed that there were coconuts up in the trees. They were in the topmost fronds which were forty or fifty feet off the ground. You'll recall that there had been some training in the combat engineers. Part of that training was in stringing telephone wires through trees etc. So I located some climbing gear and went up into the tree top and cut some coconuts. Nobody told me that the fronds were so tough but persistence paid off and they fell to the ground. So a bunch of us had coconut meat and milk after using all our skill and cunning in getting the nut out of the extremely impervious husk. It took axes, machetes, and saws for us foreigners to get that husk open in order to get that brown nut out into the open. Breaking the nut open was easy after that.

We also got an allowance of beer. Naturally the bottles were not cold. The brand was Top Hat and was 3.2 % alcohol. The best way to get the bottles cold was to put a group of them together and empty a fire extinguisher at them. It only worked as long as we could get the extinguishers. A mistake was made by the brass by issuing weapons to us on the same day as a beer ration. Someone took a machine gun and stitched a row of bullets through the camp commanders tent. Fortunately for the commander he wasn't in it; however our luck wasn't as good. After we had gone to bed for the night the officers called all of the battalion out to stand in company formation on the road. We fell out in all states of dress. Some were in casual fatigue uniform, some in underwear, some had boots on, some had raincoats; just about every combination conceivable was represented. The officers walked up and down the rows of troopers looking presumably for the guilty party(ies). If they found them it wasn't broadcast. What did happen was the battalion was divided into two groups and marched off into the night for a five mile trip. As usual our officer stayed with us. It didn't take very many yards before the troopers said what the hell and started to run, in formation of course. We were going to show that commander that making us march was no punishment at all.

Finally, our orders came through and we were assigned to different destinations. Mine was to go to the Philippines. We boarded a ship and after sailing for a day or two we off-loaded onto a craft called Landing Ship, Tanks (LST). This thing looked like a large shoe box with sides about 10 to 12 feet thick. The front end was a ramp that could be let down and the back was several feet thick where the propulsion system and steering were located. It was about 15 feet out of the water and could not have been very deep below the water line. There were not many troopers on board. I suppose there were other vessels carrying more of us replacements.

We replacement troopers were sent up from Lae, New Guinea to Leyte, PI. .We were being transported through the Philippine Islands (PI) from Leyte in the south to Mindoro. Mindoro had an airfield. A great thing about being on a ship run by the Navy was that we had hot food prepared on realistic stoves and ovens. We even got fresh baked bread, the first I had eaten in months.

Unfortunately, during the transition between islands we ran into a typhoon. In such a small vessel the pitching, tossing, and yawing made life very uncomfortable to say the least; however, it did not last long and we reached Mindoro without further incident. I was assigned to the 503rd Regimental Combat Team, 1stBattalion Headquarters Company and to the S2 (Intelligence) section. We lingered on Mindoro for a few weeks learning the philosophy of the unit and experiences of those troopers who had survived previous invasions and battles. Since there were many areas of the PI still under control of the enemy we didn't yet know where we were to engage the enemy. Paratroopers in the South Pacific were a rarity. In European theaters, paratroops were jumped into areas in Division strength and many times in more than one division. Where we were, it took some planning to get a regiment dropped into an area.

Soon we got the word that our target was Corregidor. We were briefed on our assignments and when we were scheduled to jump. Two battalions would go in the first day and the others, including us would be on the next day. There were two drop zones, one was the parade ground and the other the golf course. C-47ís would be in two parallel columns at 800 feet. Eight troopers would jump from each of the planes as they passed over the jump point. So there were no more than 16 in the air over each zone as the planes followed closely behind the one in front.

A further point of interest was given us and it was that the island was 400 feet above sea level. This means the guys would be in the air a very, very short time before they hit the ground. Each C-47 had to circle the route until all the troops had jumped. Didn't sound like fun but we were to young and full of stuff (expletives deleted) to worry about minor things.

We had been issued our weapons and were ready to go. On the day I was to jump we got word that there had been a very high casualty rate, even though the air time was so little. Not only was the enemy shooting but there was a wind that blew some of the guys away from their zone. But we replacements didn't care we were anxious to get to fight at last. As I consider things at this late date it seems that all the horror that those who survived the previous battles and what they had told us about it just didn't sink in. Somewhat like taking advice from our parents, we were sure we knew better or that it didn't apply to us.

The issued weapon for us was the carbine as it was short and fit well under the parachute gear; however, my choice was for an Ml Garand rifle. This was packed in a long bag, called a Griswold bag, that became buckled behind the reserve chute. Since it was very inflexible and required some assembly of the rifle I chose just to fasten the rifle itself to the harness; that meant it was ready for use as soon as we got down. We picked up our chutes, put them on, and boarded the planes.

The flight seemed to last forever as we were all anxious, scared, and excited. As we began to get closer to Corregidor the Colonel had us diverted to a field up the west coast of Luzon to Subic Bay. We were all transferred to Attack Personnel Destroyers (APD's) [ed. note: this designation is found in the book Corregidor, the Rock Forest Assault by Lt. Gen. E. M. Flanagan, Jr.; p~249. After studying the picture, my first memory is probably right - I landed from one of the LST's.] These took our group back down the coast to the island where we went ashore by walking off the boat into the water and onto one of the two beach areas. This one was on the south beach between the main body of the island and the Malinta tunnel.

Back to the invasion. As we were rushing onto the beach, a Japanese machine gun opened fire on us. Seeing a disabled enemy tank just in front of me, I flopped down in the sand making sure that the tank was between me and the gunner. Almost immediately after raising my head I was shocked to see a circle of white cloth tape just in front of my nose. Having the combat engineering training experience I knew immediately that it was a mine. You can bet that my eyes began looking for some other place to go and just off to my right I saw a very deep shell hole. A very quick dash and jump - into the hole I went.

I believe that my landing was from the middle of the three LST's. The tank is out in front of that one and I ducked around the back end. You can see the size of the hole a few yards away. There were a couple of other guys there too. We waited until someone took care of the machine gun. We were told to climb the main part of the island and locate ourselves overnight. My luck was good as a few others and I found a coastal gun emplacement or bunker of concrete and we stayed there during the night. It was not one of those deep sleep nights you can bet your boots on that.

The next morning we climbed to the top and were located in the Battalion Hq. building. This was located on the east end of the parade ground. To the north were barracks buildings, south was the golf course, and behind the building some distance away were the water towers. A common joke was that since we were on the top and the Japanese were on the downhill sides (all the way around) we had them surrounded. Patrols were sent out each day to try to eliminate or capture the enemy.

For a day or two my function was to attend briefings on what was going on. Once it was my turn to get the groupís canteens filled with water. That required taking all the canteens to the big water tanks, climb the ladder to the top, climb down the ladder to the bottom through the holes created by the bombings to where the remaining water was about waist deep. After carefully maneuvering around so that the mud from the bottom was not stirred up the canteens were filled and then the climbing process was reversed. While I was down in the water the word was passed that I was wanted by the Captain. Upon arriving at his position he told me that tomorrow I was to go along with a company going down the east side and bring back my observations of what was there. One of my buddies was to go also.