"GROWING UP OVERNIGHT -
THE NEGROS CAMPAIGN"
The Negros campaign was one of the last major operations in the recapture of the Philippine Islands. It had no real military or tactical value -- other than it was an island where thousands of Japanese troops had been staged, airfields built, and troops dispatched to the other islands from the excellent harbors that the Island boasted. The Island was one of the last places where the Japanese held out, and it was probably more a matter of principal that the Island be recaptured -- rather than bypassed in favor of more important targets.
At any rate, we were alerted of a possible jump into the center of the Island. We geared up and boarded planes on April 7, 1945.
Enroute to the drop zone, the jump was called off and we landed instead on a neighboring island and boarded boats (Navy Landing Craft, Infantry, (LCI's), for the landing on Negros. As it happened, the landing was unopposed for the Japanese had pulled back to defensive positions in the mountains. The actual landing stays in my mind quite clearly, mainly because we had pulled up to the beach expecting to be met with Japanese fire and instead, we were met with a Filipino band playing welcoming music for us. I particularly recall them playing a spirited rendition of "Amapola" over and over, and I thought, "Now this is the way to hit a beach!" I do recall one incident quite clearly though. An elderly Filipino gentleman dressed in full military dress uniform - pinks and greens, was standing at rigid attention as we landed. He was a Captain as I recall, and I wondered at the time why one of our officers didn't go up to him and greets him. In retrospect though, I suppose his day was made and his career complete when the first trooper splashed ashore to regain his home Island. We bedded down that night in the town square, and the townspeople held a dance in honor of the occasion.
We moved by motor convoy from the beach several miles and into the hills. We pulled patrols for the first few days without making physical contact with any enemy. We did receive several rounds of enemy artillery fire that wounded one or more men slightly. We moved up and replaced another company on the front line.
*The author retired as a Major and resides in Fresno CA.
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