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Corregidor

“On The Rock” by James Dietz

On 16 February 1945, 51 C-47s of the 317th TCG, nicknames “The Jungle Skippers”, dropped 2000 men of the 503rd PIR/11th Airborne Division on the fortress island of Corregidor.  Due to the modest size of the drop zones, only one battalion could be dropped at at a time, with a 5-hours turn around between drops. Each C-47 had to make repeated passes over the DZs and only a handful of paratroopers could jump each time.

The commanding officers, Lt.Col. John Lackey and Co. George Jones circled the island directing the choreography of the mission.  At 08:33 hours, barely 3 minutes late, against 16-18 knot winds, the troopers began to descend on the remnants of MGen. Tsukada’s Kembu Group.

503rd/11th Airborne Division

Paratroopers and infantrymen waged a tenacious battle ‘Topside’ while the 3rd Battalion of the 24th Infantry Division waded ashore on the eastern end of the island known as ‘Black Beach’ encountering the enemy and land mines.  Yet they did manage to secure the road and both the north and south entrances to Malinta Hill.  They intended to keep the Japanese troops inside the tunnel as other units arrived with tanks and flamethrowers.

layout of Corregidor

18 February – The most ferocious battle on Corregidor developed at Wheeler Point.  Companies D & F/2nd batt./503rd while in defense positions near Battery Hearn and Cheney Trail on that moonless night had 500 Japanese Special landing Force Marines come charging out of Battery Smith armory.  This was the night when Pvt. Lloyd G. McCarter won his Medal of Honor.

Aside from flares fired throughout the night by offshore warships, this 3-hour battle was decided by 50 men and their weapons.  Official historians of the 503rd refer to Wheeler Point as “Banzai Point.”

a Malinta Tunnel exit

21 February – Malinta Hill reacted like a volcano when several detonations tore it apart.  The Japanese that had been trapped inside caused the explosions and ensuing rock falls.  Two nights later, a similar event occurred and the American engineers sealed the tunnel’s entrances.  The suicides caused many such instances for days afterward.

Up until 26 February, there were isolated small cases of resistance from the remaining enemy soldiers, but they were silenced and Corregidor was declared secure.

Corregidor

By 1 March, Manila Harbor, the finest in the East, was open to Allied shipping.  7 March, MacArthur returned to the fortress he had been forced to leave and immediately noticed the old flagpole was still standing. He said, “Have your troops hoist the colors to its peak and let no enemy ever again haul it down.”

Flag raising on Corregidor

References: “C-47/R4D Skytrain Units of the Pacific and CBI” by David Isby; “Voice of the Angel” newspaper of the 11th Airborne Division, edited by Matt Underwood.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Clifford Abram – UK; Royal Navy, WWII / RAF

Clarence Beavers – NYC, NY; US Army, WWII, Sgt., 55th Battalion “Triple Nickels”

John Canty – Winsted, CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Sgt., 555/386/9th Bomber Command, KIA

Marlene Errico – Sunrise, FL; Women’s USMC

Carl Fisherkeller – Springfield, IL; US Navy, WWII, pilot

John Gavin – Los Angeles, CA; US Navy, Ambassador to Mexico, (beloved actor)

Hoyt Hamor – Bar Harbor, ME; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Ralph Hartgraves – Clarksdale, MS; US Army, WWII, ETO, KIA

Earl Peterson – Bristol, NH; US Navy, WWII, USS Noble

Robert Watz – Westerly, RI; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

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