Japanese Airborne Attack 11th Airborne

Gen. Robert Eichelberger

The first eye witness account is from General Robert Eichelberger, Commander of the Eighth Army on Leyte as written in his book, “Our Jungle Road To Tokyo”

“There is a memento of this struggle now in the Military Academy at West Point.  [General] Joe Swing gave it to me, and I sent it on from the Pacific.

“During the fighting on an airstrip, two ducking and dodging American GI’s – Allen W. Osborne and Eustis A. Jolly – were hand-carrying ammunition to the troops under fire.  They noticed a large Japanese flag fluttering in a tree and, being incorrigible souvenir hunters, decided to acquire it.

“Each time they attempted to shinny up the tree, they were met by a fusillade of Japanese bullets.  So they changed their tactics.  They got an ax from their truck and while still under fire, chopped down the tree.  That hard-won Japanese flag now hangs in the West Point museum.

“How can you explain youngsters like that?  Despite the calamity howlers they continue to exist.  Whatever challenge the future holds, I think Americans can meet it.”

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Gen. Henry Muller, Jr.

This condensed eye witness account was written by BGen. Henry J. Muller, Jr.; courtesy of “The Drop Zone” website and published in “The Voice of the Angels” newspaper, Matt Underwood, Editor.

“TRANSPORTS!!” – “JAPS!!” – “PARATROOPERS!!”

“The time was 1800 hours, 6 December 1944 and at first it sounded like a swarm of bees in the distance.  Then it became clear.  No paratrooper could mistake the drone of a formation of troop carrier aircraft.  Someone outside shouted “AIRCRAFT!!” – then many – “JAP TRANSPORTS!!” – “PARATROOPERS!!”

Situation map 6 December 1944

“The division staff dashed out of the mess tent looking skyward.  By now, a dozen parachutes had opened above us and everyone began firing at them.  I even emptied 2 clips from my .45 at the nearest parachutists.  Most jumped well beyond our HQ, landing in and about the San Pablo airstrip.  Only a few who jumped too soon dropped over us and floated down just north of our perimeter.

“There was considerable rifle fire from the vicinity of the airstrip and some from the HQ area.  Someone ordered that the generator be shut down as the lights could attract sniper fire.  Each section had been required to dig foxholes and trenches around their tents, although rather shallow soil piled on the upper rim provided cover from small arms fire if one kept low.

“During the night, the G-3 Col. Quandt prepared a plan for a provisional battalion of Ordnance and Quartermaster companies, with odds and ends of Service and Administrative troops, to counterattack across the airstrip at first light.

“The firing had subsided, but we had no contact with the small aerial resupply detachment at the strip.  So early that morning, Gen. Swing and I, accompanied by his aide and dismounted driver, made our way to the airstrip for a first-hand appraisal of the situation.

“Our counterattack had cleared the field… the Japanese paratroopers had withdrawn into a wooded area north of the strip.  They had burned some of our light aircraft along with small stores of aviation fuel and various supplies which were part of our resupply effort for units in the mountains.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News –  if anyone is looking for my V-E Day post here today, simply type in V-E Day into the Search bar in the top-right-hand corner of the post.  You will be brought to my past 4 posts commemorating that great day!

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Military [Airborne] Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

James Davis – Philadelphia, PA; US Army, WWII, ETO, K/47th QM Regiment

Graham Harding – Hawkes Bay, NZ; RNZ Army # 442167, WWII, 27th Battery, Signal Corps

Norman Hatch – Boston, MA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Photographic Services, combat-cameraman

Freddie Henson – Klamath Falls, OR; US Army, Korea, A/57/7th Infantry Division, KIA

Edward Kitchell – W.Milford, NJ; US Navy, WWII, Sea Bee

Anthony Lipari – Racine, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, aerial engineer, Purple Heart

Kyle Milliken – Falmouth, ME; US Navy SEAL, Somalia, Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator, 4 Bronze Stars, KIA

Donald Omodt – St. Paul, MN; US Army, WWII & Korea

Thomas Strath – Ottawa, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, pilot

Russell Turner Jr. – Houston, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO,  11th Airborne Division

Moray Watson – Sunningdale, ENG; British Army, Northamptonshire Reg., Captain, (beloved actor)

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[In a past post in July 2015, I did an article on the wartime cameramen with Norman Hatch mentioned.]

Sgt. Norman Hatch

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About GP Cox

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

Posted on May 8, 2017, in First-hand Accounts, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 74 Comments.

  1. You have an amazing range of information at your fingertips! When we were kids, we used to take a boat ride up the Hudson River every summer. The trip culminated at West Point. Little did I know till years later how historic West Point is.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Again good story.Fine you write them down

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This post and all other posts that I went through today are just amazing. Bookmarked and continue it is for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am very glad to hear that. Your area of the world went through a lot during WWII, so if you see where I am lacking in information – feel free to speak up. People at this site share family stories, information, and talk to each – not just to me – so I hope you continue to enjoy your visits here, Lan.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am living in Sabah, North Borneo and Yes the Japs were here all over the place. Recently, a construction had to stop for a while as there’s bomb underground. The day to detonate it came and people were like everywhere at a safe distance wanting to know what’s gonna happen next. Then it happened. A small ‘poof’ heard and all were disappointed. Hehe. I guess they want to hear ‘Bang’ sound or something big. Sandakan town was the worst place bombed by the Japs. British, Australian and New Zealand soldiers tried to fight but then many were put on a death march, few survived. Sad thing.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes that is a very sad story. Believe it or not, I already have a post about Sandakan prepared in my drafts slated to be published when I reach [what I call] my intermission time between 1944-45. And I have almost finished reading, “The Airmen and the Headhunters” by Judith Heiman. A few months back I read “Three Came Home” by Agnes Keith.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Oh my, you wrote about Sandakan? You mst tell me when you publish it, I need to read it. And yes. Agnes Keith book is amazing and I have a copy of it as well. Ahhhh, I might have something for you as I do collect books about the war in sandakan..Read it all, don’t really mind sharing or giving it away as memento to a new friend who has deep interest for Sandakan’s history during Japs era. This is awesome. Where are you based? US?

            Like

  4. Such an inspiring story of bravery. So much to be grateful for. Thanks for an interesting look back into history.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We love reading your well done posts. It’s better than any history lesson we had.
    When I was a student we hardly heard anything about the war in the Pacific. And of course nothing is better than the writings of eye witnesses.
    We loved the flag story very much 🙂 🙂
    Thanks a lot our dear friend
    Klausbernd and The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. These eye witness accounts are priceless, and need to be recorded as much as possible before we inevitably lose all these WWII veterans. Great post, look forward to reading more.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Oh, such a fun post! Believe me, in war and in peace, you had to have a ‘cowboy’ attitude to be a paratrooper. Love the ‘cheap thrills’ statement.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. That is a funny cartoon 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. The bravery and ingenuity of this generation deserves to be remembered forever. Had it not been so, I shudder to think how we would be living today. Thanks again – and always – for keeping the memories alive in honor of these brave soldiers.
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You are more than welcome. My late Husband David, who was 30 years older than me, served with the RAF during the Burma Campaign so I always felt it important to remember those that served. I was not born than after the War, 1949 but loved to hear all that went on. Such a shame Korea is forgotten.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I do have a section on Korea because of that, but it’s not as in-depth as I would have liked. Hilary Custance Green has written an in-depth book on the POW’s of the CBI you might find interesting. It is a shame that even today the UK has that theatre forgotten too. [of what I’ve been led to believe.] I would like to include David in the Farewell Salutes, if you approve. I would only request the basic information you see for the other service members here.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Great story about the flag, GP. Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Nothing comes through more strongly and vividly to the reader than an eye witness account. I too like the flag capturing event. One is inclined to think such incidents happen only in the movies.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Awe-inspiring flag story. Osborne and Jolly sound like very ‘gung-ho’ chaps. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  14. What a great story (about the flag). That ‘cowboy’ attitude you find so often in Americans also makes us darn good warriors.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. As ever, I love to read all this. Hope you will not object I have reblogged.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Reblogged this on Anna Cottage and commented:
    This is a wonderful site that should be read, yes its the past and a time people care not to remember these days, but its a time and people we should remember and all they gave so we can be here. All this hard work on this site is dedicated to those who gave so much.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Taking a Japanese flag by cutting down a tree while under enemy fire – just can’t make this stuff up! Great story. My son-in-law will enjoy this story the next time I see him.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. We Americans are a tenacious group which is what makes us so great.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I didn’t realize there were Japanese paratroopers, either. Thanks for the story.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. What a way to get a souvenir! I’m interested in that sidebar shot of yours featuring Smitty’s artwork….

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Love that Flag story gp, says a lot for the skills in escapades of the young Soldiers.
    Your cartoon of the Whoops and Rifle is priceless.
    Cheers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Glad you liked the story and cartoon, Ian. One thing I always admired about my dad was his ingenious way to find solutions to problems. Despite him never telling me about the enemy paratrooper drop, I thought this story showed how that generation could pull things off !!

      Liked by 3 people

  22. I enjoy the 1st-hand accounts. I’m glad those two guys survived the battle for that flag. That would be a horrible way to be wounded or killed. I can’t imagine, and I honestly don’t know whether I’d be more scared of dropping into enemy-held ground or watching enemy paratroopers dropping in the distance. Either way, you’re in for hard times ahead.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. More tales of Japanese paratroops in action. As I said previously, I never even realised they had any.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

  24. This is quite a story. I’ll always think of chopping down a tree in order to capture a flag. Many thanks, Frank.

    Liked by 3 people

  25. Thank you for helping to increase historical education.

    Like

  26. Thank you for referring this story.

    Like

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