Getting ready for Luzon

General Joseph M. Swing, on the reverse side of the photo, dad wrote: My General

General Joseph M. Swing, on the reverse side of the photo, dad wrote: My General

General Eichelberger

General Eichelberger

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.)

Leyte - Jan. 1945

Leyte – Jan. 1945


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.

Rod Serling - formerly 11th A/B Div.

Rod Serling – formerly 11th A/B Div.


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.

About GP

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GP is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on December 11, 2012, in SMITTY, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Smitty and his buddies certainly faced many dangers other than the enemy.


  2. Gen. Eichelberger also ended up being my dad’s commanding general during the Occupation.


  3. Thanks for stopping by “Along the Way” and the like. Thanks also for all the photos to help stir our memory.


  4. What a legacy you are building for future generations. With so many “wars” between then and now, I feel that there is probably very little being taught in the schools about this war that involved the whole world, just as we didn’t learn much about WWI. Keep spreading the word.


  5. Thank you for keeping history alive!


  6. What an honor it must have been to be part of the Los Banos rescue! One of the reasons why I feel that very little was reported about the war in the Pacific is as a direct result of things like the Baatan Death March, it really was more than the folks back home could handle. The detail Smitty provides is incredible. Although I am tracking completely with what is happening during this time in the war, I’ve decided to go back and read this blog from the beginning so I can know all of his story.


    • Thank you for taking the time. Dad was always modest about these events. If I pressured him for an account – he always referred to the “11th airborne did this or the regiment did that” – not one mention of himself except for the humorous stuff.


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