Feb. 17 1945
Got up after
considerable moving around. Todd, Jensurd,6
and I slept together in front of the last house in officers row,
that house being my C.P., and the Company C. P. A lot of Jap snipers
were back in the A.A. batteries and they were doing a lot of shooting at
the last house.
Early, I had taken a couple of men and worked out to a large crater
west of 28-D. We had several bullets crack by and knew we were seen, so
we were keeping a low profile. Suddenly, a familiar voice called out,
"Bill, what's going on?" I looked up and Doc was standing seemingly ten
feet tall on the edge of the crater. It took me some earnest talk to
convince him to get down.
A LMG was also firing at us from
down below "B" field. We had an artillery machine gun section with an
air cooled .50 out on the second story porch of the my C.P. house. The
3rd Plt. moved out to face Wheeler Battery. I shan't
forget seeing Campbell moving around that morning before he moved his
One of my men, Hill
6 got hit twice in
the arm by this Jap LMG. The artillery moved a gun upstairs to
fire on Wheeler Battery. The 75mm howitzer wouldn't do up there because
the cement banister was too high and prevented the barrel from being
depressed enough to fire into the battery. One of
their men got it square through the head while they were disassembling
the gun. Sleepy's
firing on the AA batteries and when the Japs would jump up and run the
.50 cal MG and riflemen would get them.
They said the 3rd Plt.
was going to attack Wheeler Battery and I pleaded with the battalion C.P.
to have it dive bombed, but to no effect. Freihoff and his men had told
me that the magazine room in which they were trapped was filled with
large canisters of gun powder for the big guns. In our briefing we were
told that fighter planes back on Mindoro were on call, and some did
receive support from P-47's dropping napalm - man! what one napalm bomb
would have done to Wheeler! I use the word "pleaded" because it best
describes my feelings. I had tangled with Wheeler and knew it strength.
About 1030 Sleepy was exposing himself
to observe for his mortars and the LMG below "B" field got him with one
slug in the right ankle and about four or five in the left thigh, taking
out a chunk of the leg bone. I was nearby. Sleepy was in great pain, and
he asked me to light a cigarette for him. He could hardly handle
it, and his lips were turning blue, so blue they seemed black.
As the aidmen worked on him, suddenly Doc Bradford
appeared and took over, and they took Sleepy across the Parade Ground to
the 59th Barracks.6
I was deeply concerned.
From the 2nd floor of my C.P., we
saw a group of people run across the gun floor of Wheeler Battery.
We though it was the 3rd plt. men assaulting. Then as
they ran up the stairs to the top, automatic fire opened up and and
tumbled 5 of the 6 down. I groaned inside. We found out a little later
that they were Japs and were we relieved.
About 1130 Campbell got
it square through the head and another officer
from Regt. Hqd. Co., who was with him, got it in the head.
In the meantime, word came through that Sgt. Hoyt
had been killed
and Ed Flash had been wounded in the arm
In a short time Ed arrived at 28-D and I
was relieved to see that he was walking. He showed me where a bullet had
entered his arm about 2-3 inches superior to the elbow and exited on the
distal side, but it had touched no bone. He said he could make a fist,
but could not spread his fingers. Soon after he went on across the
Parade Ground to the battalion aide station, I saw Doc Bradford and
asked him when would Ed be back. Doc said. "He
won't be back. That bullet damaged the radial nerve, Ed will be in for a
series of operations. He's going home and will be in a hospital for
probably a year.
Now there was just Bailey and me. 1Lt.
Wm. LaVanchure, company exec, had jumped with the 3d Bn that morning as
had all 2nd Bn company exec's. Both his ankles were so badly sprained
that he was out of action for the entire operation. Thus "F" Co. had
lost three officers in one morning.
After Lt. Campbell was
killed, T/Sgt Shropshire got jumpy and withdrew his platoon without
orders. So Bailey sent me, the only platoon leader left to take
them back and keep them there until orders came through as to whether or
not we were going to assault Wheeler. I sweated that one out.
We were all without water and very
thirsty. We moved up and I got into a block house, rather an ammo
house and was pretty jumpy. About 1500 word came through that Lt.
Gifford was coming to take over and that "D" Co. would do the
assaulting. He got there about 1539, made his recon, and we all
withdrew so they could put artillery fire on it. I was sweating it out
for Gifford and Mara because I knew there were lots of Japs in the
battery. The artillery couldn't get in to do any effect, so they moved
up and assaulted against very little resistance. That night we found out
where the Japs were. They took the entire battery. Gifford's platoon was
on the top of the parapet about 1600, and the Japs were in the battery.
About 1739 I moved my platoon to the A.A.
position and we went in as well as we could. Japanese occupation of the
area had long ceased due to our combined mortar, machine
gun, and rifle fire. Lt. Lee was out there with a .50 cal. MG
had 2 LMG's.
My platoon hqd. went into night position
watching a draw at the head of Crockett Ravine between us and the last
house in officers' row. We picked a ditch which ran along directly in
rear of the AA revetment. The old 3 inch gun was still intact in this
The wind rose and tin started rattling .
We did a little hand grenade throwing and the MG's fired a lot.
Navy star shells would
burst at various intervals illuminating the area, and we would try to
visual inspection during the short time of light. I wondered what was
happening to Gifford and his men.
When I placed
the right side my perimeter near the gully between the A.A. area I could
see small whiffs of smoke still rising from our end of the battery.
Evidently, something was burning within at least one magazine. It burned
for about five minutes and during this time I raised up and looked
around the well lighted area and saw no Japs. About 2200 we could feel a
trembling of the earth and soon a grating sound, then hell broke loose.
A huge sheet of flame about 100 ft. high shot out of Wheeler. My men who
were near the battery pulled back.
About fifteen minutes
later the flames shot out again. After the great fire, I went to sleep
and slept well. It wasn't quiet, there was a .50 firing pretty
much all night.
The next morning we could still smell
burning flesh and when we approached Wheeler, we could hear the popping
of frying meat, so there were many Japs who never made it out. There
were some forty dead Japs lying around our side. Some had been killed
before and some by machine gun fire from my section and some by a .50
cal. that Danny Lee fired all night. Todd got a few souvenirs but I was
not interested. I was just tired and thirsty.
The first battalion came in late
yesterday afternoon and with them the larger part of my first squad who
got to me this morning.
We were relieved this morning by "C" of
the first battalion. Relieved. Relieved of what? To move over and clear
another sector! Around 1500 hrs my platoon attacked and secured a hill
with no opposition. The hill was the magazine of Battery Smith.