Getting ready for Luzon
21 January 1945, General Swing announced to his force that he was ordering a division review. The 11th Airborne Division was being transferred to the command of the Eight Army and the reviewing officer was would be none other than General Eichelberger, the top commander, himself. Field Order Number 17 informed Swing that the 11th A/B must pack up and move on to the island of Luzon, P.I. Upon arrival they would be expected to retake Manila, destroy the Japanese Genko Line of defense and release all internees being held captive at the prisons, especially Los Banos.
Luzon was the most populated, the most highly developed and the most historical island in the archipelago. It was also a land of wild boars, birds, snakes, reptiles, feral dogs, tons of insects and an enemy hiding within the cogon grass at every turn; the plant had coarse spikes with “silky” hairs that made your skin feel as though hundreds of creatures crawled beneath it. There was always a threat of dengue fever; contracted from a mosquito and if left untreated resulted in bleeding and death. It was here that Smitty contracted a mild case of malaria, but quinine and stubbornness kept him out of the hospital. (He always said that he was one of the lucky ones, but I witnessed one relapse and can not imagine what the unlucky ones had gone through.)
War or no war – Hollywood would continue to be Hollywood. Gloria Vanderbilt had separated from her husband of two years, Pat deCicco, two months before she was to inherit $4.5 million. Ida Lupino filed for divoece from her husband, Louis Haywood. Obviously, the rich and famous were having a rough time of it during the war.
Then, you have the opposite spectrum. One of many, many examples being – Rod Serling, best known for his televisions shows, “Twilight Zone” and “Night Gallery,” was a Pvt. in the 11th A/B and would earn a Bronze Star.
24 January, General Swing issued Field Order Number 10 that specifically outlined their orders. To accomplish their task, 120 ships and landing craft would be used to transport the troops, equipment, ammo and replacements for the division up northward approximately 400 miles. They were now numbered 8,200 men, about six thousand short of a normal division.
Personal note – As people remember Pearl Harbor and honor those that gave their lives, please bear in mind that December 10 thru 13, the Japanese 16th Division went ashore at Lamon Bay, Luzon, P.I., stormed across the island to Tiaong and then headed for the capital, Manila. The Japanese took total air superiority almost immediately. The American and Filipino troops became encircled and the end result would be the Bataan Death March. I will have further information as I bring the U.S. troops into Luzon.
Posted on December 11, 2012, in SMITTY, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged 11th airborne, Army, family history, Gen. Eichelberger, Gen. Swing, History, Military, Military History, Philippines, veterans, WWII. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.