I have to maintain on January 31, 1945, as this is where the actions of Smitty and the 11th Airborne Division become quite confusing. While the 221st medical is attached to the 187th, the 187th itself is split and send in alternate directions. Up until now, the division has been maintained fairly well in secret from the Japanese, but it is here that Gen. Eichelberger not only wants to allow the enemy knowledge of their existence, he wants to (in his words) pull a “monumental bluff” and splash the landing across the newspapers.
The men hit the beach with only their necessities on their backs; their personal items would not be seen for two months. The Eichelberger/Swing strategy began at dawn with the convoy’s arrival at the shore. 0700 hours – eighteen A-20’s and nine P-38s strafed the beaches.
0715 hours – the navy began to shell the landing area with rockets from the LCIs and shells from the destroyers.
0815 – cease fire, beach party lands
0822 – no opposition from enemy reported; first wave of 8 LCVPs lands, men head toward Nasugbu only 1500 yards away.
0945 – the 188th was through Wawa, Nasugbu and the airstrip.
1030 – the 187th begins landing and immediately joined up with the others to head up to Tagatay Ridge. One unit of the 187th remains to defend Nasugbu, one battery of the 674th assists. The 102d AAA AW Battalion and the 152d AA-AT Battalion set up antiaircraft defense on the beach.
1300 – the beach was clear – Eichelberger and Swing head down Highway 17
1400 – Gen. Swing notified Admiral Fechteler that all the men were ashore and he would resume command. Little did the 11th know that for a few brief hours, they were under the command of a naval admiral!
1430 – all key elements were 8 miles from the beach and at the Palico Bridge. It was saved just as a squad of Japanese were about to blow the steel and wood structure.
1600 – the 188th set up a CP in the Palico barracks.
All companies continued to moved forward. Artillery, rifle and machine gun fire erupted shortly afterward.
The monumental bluff was created by: a flying boatload of correspondents that blasted the news that the “Eighth Army had landed on Luzon,” and Eichelberger ordered Swing to have the 187th and 188th move as quickly as possible, fire as much artillery and weapons and create as much dust as possible. All vehicles raced down the dirt roads, guns blazing and air strikes thrown in made the division appear to not only be of immense size, but that they also had an armored unit with them.
They would now be coming up on the infamous Genko Line; a stretch of blockhouses and pillboxes that contained guns from Japanese warships, 20mm, 6 inch, etc. The enemy had dug massive octopus traps called takotsubo. All this needed to be destroyed before liberation of Manila and elimination of the 20,000 soldiers waiting for them within the city limits. For this action, the 11th would be granted the Presidential Unit Citation.
The 187th went down the steep southern slope of Tagatay and progressed to the north shore of Lake Taal where they were ordered to take Tanauan. The 127th Engineers carved out a road on the vertical cliffs for them.
For more current WWII news – According to The Week magazine: A World War II veteran was able to hear a symphony he wrote 67 years ago, for the first time, when the U.S. Army Orchestra premiered it in Washington D.C. Retired Colonel Harold Van Heuvelen, 93, was inspired by his experiences as a soldier to write the symphony in 1945. When his son found the music, he launched a campaign to have the Army play it. The composition drew rapturous applause and a standing ovation for the composer.
Also – When Joshua Neldorf celebrated his bar mitzvah in Sept. he decided to donate $13,000 (most of his gifts) to Operation Mend which provides medical services to American soldiers with facial injuries. His generosity was inspired by a family friend, Sgt. Louis Dahlman who was injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2007.
Locally – south of me, submerged in 240 feet of water, a World War II Navy F6F Hellcat was located off of Miami Beach. Florida was used for training Navy and Marine pilots during that war. Since the nearly intact wreckage is embedded in the sand and upside-down, it is not known if the pilot is buried with his plane.
Posted on December 27, 2012, in SMITTY, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged 11th airborne, Army, family history, Gen. Eichelberger, Gen. Swing, History, Military, Military History, Pacific War, paratroopers, Philippines, veterans, war, WWII. Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.