Nichols Field, Luzon

Operation map

Operation map

an early photo of Nichols Field

an early photo of Nichols Field

While the 511th regiment was held up at the Paranaque River, the 674th regiment moved in to assist them. The evening of 4 February 1945, the smoke and flames inside the city of Manila could easily be seen.

The Japanese Naval Air Service was stationed at Nichols Field where they had antiaircraft weapons that would shoot at the American planes overhead or positioned to aim directly at the troopers on land. The enemy 4th Naval Battalion had secured Fort McKinley and other Japanese units filled in the gaps in between.

On 7 February, the 188th reg. and the 2d battalion of the 187th headed across open terrain toward Nichols Field where they encountered tremendous resistance. It would take four days to create a solid defensive line diagonally across the air field. On this date, a member of the 511th would make contact with a patrol of the 1st Calvary near the Philippines Racing Club, but the Japanese were still defending Nichols Field complex, the center of the Genko Line, as though they were protecting the Emperor himself.

At this time, the 2d of the 187th was attached to the 511th. The CP (Command Post) was in a spanish-style house with a wall surrounding it, and it was receiving 20mm AA fire. One shell went through a window and killed Colonel Haugen (C.O. of the 511th), but Gen. Swing, Col. Tipton and Capt. Barker were unharmed.

By 12 February, enough was enough. Swing sent the 2d of the 187th to attack Nichols Field eastward, while the 188th and the 1st of the 187th drove in from the south. Under continuous fire, they attacked the enemy pillboxes and emplacements. The enemy’s fierce counterattack was repelled and most of the field was in U.S. hands by dusk. They did need to continue fighting throughout the following day.

By the time Valentine’s Day rolled around, the 188th and the 2d of the 187th turned toward Fort McKinley. Gen. Eichelberger felt that the results were “one of the most daring feats of the war” being that there were only seven infantry battalions in the entire division. There was also no rest for the weary, even the truck drivers were running supplies 19 hours a day and Gen. Swing used a cub plane to land and see what was happening at the front lines. Dad always said that it was an everyday occurence to have Swing on the point. And now, the 457th regiment was in position on Tagatay Ridge to provide support for the MSR (Main Supply Route).

current news – A 16 year old French boy found a WWII duffel bag in his grandfather’s attic and returned it to 92 year old Army veteran, William Kadar in Indiana. Kadar last saw the bag in Nov. 1944 – one week before the Germans captured him.

Also, in a town just a few miles from me, 20 WWII veterans of WWII received France’s Legion of Honor Medal. Anyone who served in France during the war is eligible to apply for this.

Nichols Field on fire

Nichols Field on fire

Remember to click on photos for a larger view.

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 January 11, 2013, in SMITTY, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. The descriptions of the fighting/strategies in your post chill me but the current news items are very satisfying. One never knows but I think I would be such a wimp in a war situation.


    • The thing is — none of us know how we would react. Dad said many of the heroic deeds were done by men who couldn’t take any more and just snapped, that a person who was NOT afraid was foolish and dangerous to the rest of the men.


  2. In the series The War, Ken Burns covered the event at Nichols Field quite well. It follows right along with your account. Great news about the soldier’s duffle bag being returned and about 20 WWII veterans of WWII receiveing France’s Legion of Honor Medal.


  3. I wonder what Mac Arthur’s legacy would have been if the troops wouldn’t have come through for him… again?


  4. I wonder what Mac Arthur’s legacy would have been if the troops hadn’t have come through for him….again?


  5. A reblogué ceci sur Lest We Forget and commented:
    Always a great reading of the battle for Manila in 1945.
    It reads like a book, but you have to read it from the first post to fully enjoy it.


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