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Leyte | First-hand account – Purple Heart Hill

Purple Heart Hill

Pfc John Chiesa, E Company/188th Regiment/11th Airborne and Privates Davis and Duncan were on the point going up, what would become known as, Purple Heart Hill on 26 December 1944.  Chiesa recalled:

“We just got to the top of this hill when all hell broke loose.  The Japs opened up with their wood peckers and rifles.  Duncan got hit in the rump and he went tumbling down the hill.  I hit the ground and prayed.  Finally, Davis and i jumped up and went diving over the ridge.  We could not see the Japs because they hide pretty good in the jungle.  They were firing and we were trying to fire back, but we could not see them to know where to shoot at.

Japanese woodpecker


“Finally, our Platoon leader, Sgt. Kelly, got up on one knee and started to point to show us where to shoot.  About that time, the Japs got him and he was dead.  He was one hell of a soldier, believe me.

“Me, Pvt. Hodges and three other guys in our company went up to the side of the hill and we laid there waiting for someone to tell us what our next move was.  While we waited, I got hungry so i turned around facing down the hill and got out one of my K rations.  I was opening up the can when 20 feet from me this Jap jumped out of the bushes.  He looked at me and I looked at him.  I think he was as surprised as I was.

“I had an M1 rifle laying across my lap.  Everything was done automatically. (Our training came in handy.)  I grabbed the rifle, turned and pulled the trigger.  He was doing the same thing, but I was luckier.  I hit him smack in his Adam’s apple.  I can still see the surprised look on his face…  The thing that will always be on my mind is that if I didn’t stop to eat, those Japs woulda killed all 5 of us.

Col. Robert Soule

“When we came back down the hill, Col. Soule came to me and asked what I would do to get those Japs and take the hill.  I thought he was joking.  Here is a colonel, and a damned good one, asking his Pfc how to take a hill.

“I told him, ‘Just bomb the hell out of them, blow the hill up.’  We went up the hill the next morning, and after a good bombardment, we took the hill.”

The “good bombardment” had come from A Battery of the 457th.  Capt. Bobo Holloway of the 188th moved within 25 yards of the Japanese position and directed the firing of the artillery, and some 105mm howitzer and 155mm guns.

On 27 December, when they stormed Purple Heart Hill, they encountered hand-to-hand combat, then proceeded to occupy the old enemy holes as the Japanese evicted them.  Those of the enemy that escaped and headed north, ran into part of Col. Pearsons’ 187th Regiment, (Smitty’s unit)..  The bloody battle for Purple Heart Hill had lasted for almost 5 weeks.

11TH AIRBORNE HOSPITAL ON LEYTE

Information is from “The Angels: A History of the 11th Airborne Division” by Gen. E.M. Flanagan (Ret.)

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor –

“It says: ‘I am an American with 94 points and if lost in enemy territory, Please Get Me Home”‘

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Barnett – Philadelphia, PA; US Coast Guard, WWII

Allen J. Blake – Algona, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Medical/503/11 Airborne Division

Anthony Costanzo – Queens, NY; US Army, WWII & Korea

TAPS

Francis L. Coune (102) – Tampa, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-24 pilot

Bob Dole – Russell, KS; US Army, WWII, ETO, Colonel, 10th Mountain Division, Bronze Star, Purple Heart  /  U.S. Senator

Buford H. Dyer – Barberton, OH; US navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

William W. Hail – Los Angeles, CA; US Air Force, Vietnam, Lt. Col. # 553421612, pilot, 1131st Special Activity Sq., MIA (Quang Tri Provence, SV)

James L. Quong – Norman, OK; US Army, Korea, MSgt., Co. D/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin, NK)

Mary Schmaelzle – Springfield, MA; Civilian, WWII, Pratt Whitney

Carl A. Scott Jr. – Savannah, GA; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division

Richard A. Umstead Sr. – Chelsea, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, radioman

F. Jackson Worthington – Ontario, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

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