16 February 1945 (Part 2)

Edward 'Russian' Porzuczek

"I was in the 3rd squad, S/Sgt Arnold Wommack's, 3rd platoon. On the plane, Harrigan was hooked up and about to jump and someone spotted his straps were not buckled and he was unhooked. He was shaken up and went out on the next stick."





The flight pattern for A Field passed over Point 7 which is Battery Wheeler.  'A' Field planes, veered north of this line whilst 'B' Field planes veered east.  It was the E Company, together with the majority of 2d Bn HHC, leaving from San Jose (Elmore Strip)  that turned north into the anti-clockwise corridor.  A good number of 'E' Company men landed well short of their landing zone,  "A" Field. Among these was Pfc. Fitzhugh Millican,  who was a member  of the mortar platoon, whose stick was led by S/Sgt. Edward Gulsvick.




Fitzhugh Millican

"I was the last man in the stick to jump, which put me closer to Topside and safety.  Also in the stick were Pfc. Joseph Marcus, Jr. and Pvt. Roy F. Hicks, who suffered a sprained right ankle.  Marcus and I landed in the area of the buildings (the NCO quarters) and wanted to go down into Cheney Ravine to aid our buddies who had landed there. Our platoon leader, 2nd Lt. Emory N. Ball, stopped us, saying it was too late.  It would have meant almost certain death to venture into the ravine." 




Ahead of him in the stick, and killed in the ravine were S/Sgt. Edward GulsvickPfc Jimmie T. Rovolis, Pfc Matthew D. Musolino and Pfc Emory M. High.   All four of these men died at the hands of the Japanese. 


"Gulsvick, as leader of the stick, naturally landed the farthest away from Topside and the deepest in Cheney Ravine.  He landed among Japs, and amidst the field of fire of two machine guns covering the area. A number of Japanese were there spearing the men with their bayonets as they landed, and though already wounded in the air,   Gulsvick put up a terrific fight with his Thompson Submachine gun, accounting for fourteen defenders.  He is credited with saving the lives of others of his stick."  




The incident with S/Sgt. Gulsvich vindicates the practice of having a Thompson man lead each stick.  For paying the supreme price, S/Sgt Gulsvich was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation's second highest award.  Jimmie Rovolis and Emery High's were taken by the Japanese and their bodies were never found. They remain MIA.  Musolino's body was only found after the 503d had returned to Mindoro.





 Musolino's dog tags were found at Battery Wheeler on February 16, 2008 - a full 63 years after the jump. (See story.)


Edward 'Russian' Porzuczek


"On my landing I happened to look down and arched my back to avoid a big twig.  It went between me.  Thought I sat on it.  First day was confused. We spent the first night in a building. Harrigan, Unterzuber, and Kaufman were in the back room.  I was on the porch with Morgan.  Gus Wommack was under the porch and he shot a Jap in the neck and he was dying all night on the other side of the wall I was leaning on.  In the middle of the night the three guys in the end room came running and tripping down the porch hollering "Japs in the room! Japs in the room!"  We pointed our rifles toward the room.  No one came out.  After firing all night we counted six bodies.  The Jap behind my wall finally died."




1st Lt. Hudson Hill, E Company commander, landed in one of the three buildings of the NCO Quarters.  He struck the building as he was descending and fractured several teeth. He collected the E Company men in the area and was attempting to begin rescue operations when 1st Lt. Edward T. Flash, 2nd platoon leader, F Company, made his appearance with his platoon to occupy the NCO Quarters as part of the battalion defensive perimeter. 


Ed Flash

"Let me take you through my experiences with 2nd platoon.  We dropped on the golf course at approximately 1300 hrs.,  delaying 10 seconds or so from original drop point.  We received heavy small arms fire into the aircraft, wounding a trooper.  On the second pass we received more fire wounding another trooper.  Splinters and fragments flew.  One trooper begged me to let him jump, the other couldn't.

On the third pass we received more small arms fire.  All my men and one Army Photographer hit the DZ in the vicinity of the swimming pool where one parachutist with a malfunction was still lying in the empty pool covered by a white parachute.

We had assigned defensive positions to establish the perimeter based on our very detailed sand table briefings.  As we moved to our defensive positions we were fired upon by at least two Japs.  We returned fire, wounding them, but continued on to our airhead defensive positions, passed the officers quarters, housing, and started down the slope in the direction toward Wheeler Battery area.  We came to a row of 3 to 4 concrete buildings still with all office equipment intact and orderly."  (This is the NCO Quarters: Buildings #52, #53, and # 68.) 

"The buildings had long cement porches with cement railings.  Ideal to take cover behind and rest weapons on which to fire.  However we did not stop there as we didn't have the the best fields of fire and observation to our front.  We moved forward of the buildings about 20 yards to where we could see the railroad tracks in the ravine and warehouses with sliding doors that were constructed of concrete and covered with earth and overgrown with weeds and trees.  I believe at this point in Cheney Ravine generally behind the vicinity of Wheeler Point, and astride Endo's route up Cheney's Trail and about where it started up to Topside.  An artillery element was on my right in the process of recovering the artillery piece and a 50 cal. M.G.  There were some elements of E Co. on my left flank.  In front there were a couple of dead troopers in the vicinity of the railroad track- at least one or two with parachutes hanging on trees.

   Hudson Hill and E Company were down in F Company sector with me.**  The E Company trooper was down along the railroad track about 25 yards in front of my position. He was making a weak attempt to recover the E Co wounded trooper.  Col. Jones and Lawson Caskey came by.  We briefed them and Col. Jones moved Hill & E Co out and told Hudson that Ed Flash would recover the trooper.  He was glad to leave it to me as there was a lot of Japs moving around and firing to our front."





Soon after Ed and his platoon arrived, Col. Jones and Major Caskey arrived and instructed Lt. Hill to take his men and join the rest of the company who had assembled under Lt. Abbott at the Topside barracks.  Col. Jones ordered Ed to make the rescue of men trapped in Cheney Ravine his immediate mission in addition to forming a defensive perimeter at the NCO Quarters. They rescued the last living man, S/Sgt  Leonard R. Ledoux, who was heard crying out for help, in the ravine the next morning.  Ed, Pfc's Anthony Lopez,  Robert O'Connell,  and Angelos Kambakumis were all wounded in a daring rush into the ravine to rescue Ledoux.  Despite their efforts S/Sgt Ledoux died of his wounds.  Thus the fifth E Company man died as a result of enemy action during the jump.

When the company left Mindoro, 1st Lt. Hill was commanding, 1st Lt. Abbott was executive officer, 1st Lt. Whitson was 1st platoon leader, 1st Lt. Roscoe Corder was 2nd platoon leader, 1st Lt. Atchison was 3rd platoon leader, 2nd Lt. Ball was mortar platoon leader, and 2nd Lt Crawford was assistant platoon leader in the 1st platoon.  After Dick Atchison was wounded,  Lewis Crawford was assigned to command his platoon.  Thus on the first day E company had lost five men killed in action and 21 from wounds or injuries during the jump.  That was almost twenty percent, the heaviest of any of the 2d Battalion Companies.


"E Company, jumping on A Field, had many men land in Battery Wheeler-Cheney Ravine area.  The winds had been sufficiently strong that day that even with the aircraft dropping down to around 450 feet above the ground, the drift of the jumper was still 1000 feet.  The usable area of A field was 250 yards x 150 yards, so the first jumper had to be past the field before he jumped in order to hit the usable area. 

The area of upper Cheney Ravine and Battery wheeler had been cleared of trees and foliage so that, from the air, it looked like open ground suitable for landing.  In reality it was a terrible, dangerous landing area full of craters and covered with concrete wreckage with protruding reinforcing steel spears and other deadly debris.  The planes flew directly at the great and imposing three story "mile long barracks".  This had to make an impression on the jumpmasters, causing many to hurry their "Go".  The pilots certainly hurried their green light which indicated the time to "Go".  

Don Abbott, for instance, had seen the first two sticks from his aircraft drift too far south of the athletic field, and determined to extend his jump point.  With the C-47's crew chief frantically knocking his legs trying to get him to jump, he  jumped only when the aircraft had reached a point where about a third of the zone remained. Even then, he landed almost two-hundred yards short of the field itself, though the remainder of his stick landed squarely on the correct side of Topside. With the "Go" point being Battery Wheeler, and the jump count initially set at 7 seconds, anyone jumping at that point stood a good chance of hanging up on the cliffs or ending up in the sea." 




"B" Field was far less deceptive.  According to USAFFE Report #308 written by Lt. Colonel Robert Alexander and Major Wayne O. Osmundson, the usable area of "B" Field was about 75 yards longer than and the same  width as compared to "A" Field.  Landings short of "B" Field would put the jumper in deep, heavily wooded Crockett Ravine, unarguably Japanese territory, whereas landings short of "A" Field, such as Don Abbott's,  placed one at the risk of serious injury in the debris field.

"If one was to drop short, the better place was "A" Field. This is not to say that there were no Japanese in the Battery Wheeler-Cheney Ravine area - there most definitely were, as the men who landed the furthest west found out.  For instance, E company lost five men in Cheney Ravine, and we, in F Company, saw a dead jumper on the slopes of the berm facing Battery Wheeler.  I found Captain Spicer's body laying in the road at the turn of the berm behind the Battery Wheeler.  He had been killed in going to the aid of wounded after landing safely."

"1415:  The American flag was raised.  Five men are MIA after the jump.  One officer and 21 men were WIA or LIA." 

Don Abbott

"The officer was 1st Lt. Dick F. Atchison, the 3rd platoon leader. Atchison had his femur shattered by a bullet. This wound was a genuine homer."







Charles Bradford MD
"The headquarters group were so busy after landing from the jump that they could not break away; but after a few hours when there was a slight lull, Sgt. Carl N. Shaw called two volunteers who had asked for the job, and guided them down to the western end of the parade ground. Here he had noticed a stout, tall old telegraph pole standing out, gaunt and grim, in the open. By this time, Jap resistance had begun to wake up and a few snipers were firing toward the parade ground. "You fellows may be under a little fire, so hustle with the job!" Shaw said as he passed the flag over to Cpl. Frank G. Arrigo and watched Pvt. Clyde I. Bates his assistant, uncoil the rope. The pole was already spiked for climbing, and the two boys went up it like a pair of monkeys. At first their action was not noticed, but before long the perimeter rang with the sharp, high-pitched report of a Jap sniper's rifle. Another report came, and then another, meanwhile our ground fire was directed toward the sniper's hiding place, though no definite target could be seen. The two boys hurried their work, but made sure the flag was secure. At last and with a final fling, the flag tossed its folds into the plunging breeze. Here, on the very edge of the perimeter, the flag remained for the next two weeks. Combat patrols filed past it in the morning on their way out to look for Japs; and before dusk, in the evening, they returned, bearing their wounded and their dead. Machine guns and rifles volleyed around it. Mortars and artillery shells arched overhead. A few stray shots, (either ours or the Japanese) cut through its folds. Once, the high tide of a Jap banzai charge swept to the very base of the staff, then recoiled in a welter of its own blood. Not until the real battle had ended did the orders come to move the flag higher on the parade ground for an official "flag-raising," which was broadcast all over the world;--but the real flag raising was here, without benefit of publicity. It was here, in the midst of the fighting, that the flag seemed to grow from a mere symbol into a great, living personality. Here I shall always love to remember it, 'beautifully ensovreigned' , as Whitman phrased it and with the thrill of an incredible battle around it."