We found that
the area of the lake was a huge, dense swamp several miles in diameter.
There was no signs of any Jap activity in this entire area. When we
were about half way around the swamp we met patrol from E Co. equivalent to
our patrol. It was led by 2nd Lt. Joe M. Whitson. They had been
seen out by Bn. to travel east along the coast past the “lake” and then turn
back west travelling south of the “lake”. We were supposed to meet in the
vicinity that we actually met in. We both took a break, exchanges
information, and then each patrol continued on its route. Late in the
afternoon we arrived at the coast. What a relief to get out of the hot,
steamy jungles to the cool, clean looking sandy beaches. It was so great to
breathe that cool, fresh air, to feel the constant ocean breeze blowing.
The first native village we approached had been muchly destroyed. The Japs
had been there. We moved west along the beaches for several miles and came
to two more native villages. They were occupied, and there was no
indication that the Japs had been here. Evidently the Japs had retreated
along the well beaten path south of the swamp and came out at the most
eastern village. They vented their wrath upon this unfortunate village and
then continued east toward Atape.
We moved on past
the two occupied village and stopped for the night about half a mile past
the most western one. A number of curious natives soon gathered around us.
T-5 William S. Buchanan, one of our company 511 radio operators, engaged a
native boy about twelve years of age in a conversation consisting mostly of
sign language. Buchanan indicated to the boy that he would trade his pocket
knife for food, ki ki. The boy took off on the double for his village and
before long was back. He was wearing khaki shorts, and we could see a large
bulge in one of the front pockets. He rushed up to Buchanan and proudly
presented a can of vegetable stew, C-Rations. The trade was off. We knew
that Joe Whitson’s patrol had been here.