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CORREGIDOR VISIT JAN 2-21, 2003

 

FROM: PAUL WHITMAN,
TO: ALL TROOPS
RE: CORREGIDOR VISITS JAN 2003 BY SELMA CALMES, PAUL TURLEY, PAUL WHITMAN, TOM ARING & STEVEN FOSTER

 

People wondering why there was no 2002 report should recall that it was so soon after Sept 11, our wavering participants were just too unsettled to travel - all except me. I've always said that I would go to Corregidor whether or not anyone accompanied me, and proved it. Those who lost out were those who did not attend.

All e-mail discussions as to when we'd be on Corregidor were thrown out the window when I met with Tom Aring at the Manila Hotel as the smoke cleared from the air of New Year morning, 2003. Tom advised that he could no longer abide by being "so close to Corregidor, and not there," and that he would be grabbing the ferry on 2 January. So 2 January it was, and not for a second did I regret his decision. 

Enough of what I think - what did Tom think?

 

 

FROM: TOM ARING
TO: ALL TROOPS
RE: CORREGIDOR VISITS JAN 2003

Those on the trip that I spent time with: Paul Whitman, all 10 days, Steve Turley, WW2 503rd Vet, 5 days, Stephen Foster 3 days. 

AS PAUL AND I SAID MANY TIMES, (OVER A COLD, OR NOT, SAN MIGUEL AT THE MACARTHUR CAFE), SET UP INSIDE WHAT'S LEFT OF ONE OF THE OLD QUARTERMASTERS WAREHOUSES NEAR NORTH DOCK," A BAD DAY ON CORREGIDOR IS BETTER THAN ANY GOOD DAY, ANYWHERE ELSE."

AND IT'S TRUE.

The island is the same, the tours are fuller and mostly with Filipino's, which is good. The Hotel still has great food and not a bad view from anywhere. No rain for me on this trip, a Siberian cold front came through on my first day there, winds to knock you over, Banca's couldn't deliver my mangoes and banana's, glad I brought my own Mangoes for the best Mango shakes in the world! I digress, It was nice and cool on most days, but you still sweat buckets with any exertion whatso ever.  


Paul Turley, Tom Aring, Steven Foster, Paul Whitman

Paul is a Tunnel Rat for sure! We sometimes visited 5 tunnels a day. We climbed into the 2 Navy tunnels on the West side of Malinta, or should I say slide in on our backs. All black inside from the explosions set off by the Japanese in '45, hot and stuffy, hard to breath inside, no ventilation at all.    They have finally found the Navy Tunnel entrance on the South side of Malinta Hill. The caved in concrete wall are visible, you can go in about 20 ft., as Paul did.  


3Paul Turley, Tom Aring, Steven Foster, Paul Whitman3

 

We visited, Tom and Paul, others not there yet, a tunnel on the North side of Malinta Hill, actually northeast of Malinta hill as the air-vent for the tunnel is next to the road by an old gun emplacement, see Paul for name. (RJ-43 Tunnel - Ed)  You go through tough jungle, down a cratered hillside and it's another slide in on your back, watch your step entrance. A road of a kind leads east from the entrance around the hill.   We went to the top of Malinta hill and took the road southwest that neither Paul or I had done before. We found a gun emplacement, blown up concrete, type? It overlooked the South Dock from high on the hill.   We found what looked like fox holes around the top of Malinta Hill. They looked like the ones we later found on top of Goal Post Hill, slit trenches there also still!

Goalpost Hill is across the road just north of the North Hospital entrance to Malinta Hill. The foxholes on Malinta circled what was left of some concrete fortifications on the Southeast top of the hill. Not noted on 1936 map.   We then visited searchlight No. 8 on the East side of Malinta hill, the one that took a direct hit from a bomb down it's air vent. The vent area was blown apart with a large pile of debris at the back end of the fine concrete tunnel.   

We visited the 1918 tunnel in James Ravine, to get into that one, you have to breath in hard just to get in. I almost didn't get into that one, my diabetes needed sugar a lot on this trip, after a power bar and 10 minutes I was in. Hooks on the walls for beds 3 high, huge tunnel and in good shape, great ventilation still.   Outside the tunnel, in the jungle now, across a concrete bridge 20 yds from the entrance sits a concrete 3 tub sink, a barracks building used to surround it. A road leads to James Ravine over another blown up bridge.    

In James Ravine we found 2 more sets of tunnels, one on each side of the valley. One partly finished in concrete with trolley rails used in the construction. The other just blown out tunnels. Both went in from the inside of the valley with a lateral to theocean on both tunnels.  

Paul showed me the HOLE, by the topside barracks.........I must say it was not to be believed. Fall in, Goodbye!

We walked on top of the Tennis Courts on Topside which covered the 3 million gallon water tanks underneath. 

Paul Turley arrived and we went to see the Hospital first at Middleside. Paul dropped on Corregidor as an uninvited guest from the 503rd in 1945. He was very interesting and a game traveller.  We went to the top of Battery Hearn Hill where Paul fought. Based on the 5 air vents still visible, we found the foxhole Paul thinks he fought from for 3 days and long nights.  

We visited the cliffs where the dead Japs were thrown from, where the Medal of Honor was won, and heard from Paul how it was won.   We went to the Tunnels on Middleside and saw the SHOWERS inside.

Paul Whitman killed a toad as big as a house inside the tunnel. It (the tunnel, not the toad)  was full of exploded 50 gallon barrels, some blown 50 ft outside the entrance, some blown up laterals. The ceiling was melted from the heat, Paul said it burned for days.  We visited Batteries Cheney and Wheeler and talked about the various battles with Paul Turley.

Stephen Foster was with us from the Battery Hearn Hill visit. Both he and Paul Turley were still on the island when I left. I'm sure the Tunnel Rat has found plenty more for them to do!  Paul and I also scouted for caves northeast of Kindley Field but found none. All roads in that area are covered by grass up to my neck. I hate tall grass, full of snakes I presume! We did find some old concrete installations where guns would have been along with some concrete structures that could only have held large water oil, or gas tanks. There was a road leading to the airfield from the location but it's hard to judge distance in the jungle and a sea of grass. 

We also found a blown out bunker made of railroad ties with some ties leading off east, maybe a covered bunker to investigate next time?  Speaking of next time, there is a flight of stairs behind the present day offices on Bottomside, North Dock. I decided to climb the stairs on my last day on the island to see what was on top of this 20 ft high rocky hill that leads nowhere. Once up there, not easy the last 20 ft. I found the concrete emplacement for the Salute gun for visiting dignitaries, a slit trench, what looked like a blown up gun emplacement, and the best part? Under the salute gun emplacement was an another big tunnel. It is explorable, Paul probably has already, I won't go in alone, snakes.......Maybe next time...............   

It was great to be able to share this trip to Corregidor will Paul Whitman, Stephen Foster, and of course 503rd jumper Paul Turley.

I forgot to ask you something Mr Turley, do you play golf? 

Tom Aring,
Dallas TX.

 

 

 

FROM: TOM ARING
TO: CHET NYCUM - "G" CO, 503D PRCT
RE: CORREGIDOR VISITS JAN 2003

 Hi Chet, Tom Aring here, I just got back from Corregidor, spent 10 days there with Paul Whitman, Paul Turley, 503rd, and Stephen Foster.  I would have contacted you earlier but I had the wrong email address for you.

I wanted to tell you about Paul and my trip to Monkey Pt on your behalf. We had the 1936 map and your directions to go by to find the ravine and the caves you spoke of. I will tell you right off we found no caves at all, though we tried mightily.

We did find a ravine about where the map showed it and you described it.  Here's how it went. We got a ride to the Airstrip, Kindley Field. We walked the area along the North side of the field looking for a way in. This part of Corregidor has short trees for the most part and very tall grass, some jungle in the ravines and elsewhere. We found a culvert that went under the airfield, the term culvert doesn't really do it justice. It was large and very well built like all other concrete structures on the island.

We went in near it but into tall grass, up to our necks, SNAKES, I hate snakes. My dad taught me to stay away from tall grass, "that's where SNAKES hide son."  With that in the back of my mind, Paul and I set out. We found that the old road system was now a sea of grass throughout this area. The roads on this part of the island are not used or maintained whatsoever. No culverts visible unless you fall into them. We travelled better under trees than on the roads. Paul had a machete we used on the vines. There is no such thing as walking in a straight line, you follow the route of least resistance.

I guess we walked around for about an hour of two when we came upon a ravine. At the end of it was a cliff to the ocean about 20 ft below. There was a large rope hanging down which we could have gotten down but never back up.  There was what looked like an old machine gun position on top of the hill overlooking the ravine. Paul got some pictures in the ravine, a few large trees here.(On another day, when we went around Corregidor in a banca, I tried to spot the ravine and the caves but I could never locate the area from sea.)  There was lots to see in this area as its not visited much.

There was evidence that some locals, possible fisherman came at times, the rope down the cliff, traps in the jungle, and food containers hanging in trees.  We found a large concrete bunker area, blown up pretty good. Chet, it was north of the ravine right on the edge of the cliff. With the trees over it, it could not be seen either from air or sea. A road led to it and there was a concrete structure next to it that would have held large tanks of fuel or water maybe, 4 tanks.  Looking at the 1936 map we were at North Point, the location of a 75 mm semi fixed emplacement.

At that location there was also a mobile SL shelter. There was also a Unit Command Station #1 nearby.  Paul and I had a tough time getting back to the Airstrip, I won't say we got lost, we just felt like cutting more vines and going through more grass full of MAYBE SNAKES............. 

On the way back we did take a SMOKO near an interesting location. There was a large hole with some railroad ties sticking out of the ground inside the crater. Upon further examination I noticed that there was another hole about 20 feet away. Under the jungle debris between the 2 holes was a roofed area of railroad ties still intact. What's under there? I say to myself, a tunnel that used to connect the 2 possible machine gun nests? That's another trip.

We continued our quest for Kindley field. I just started plowing uphill through the tall grass. I was in the grass not seeing anything but grass, and boom, then I was on the field. What would it be like to fight in that crap?  I will have to return to this area again as it is unspoiled, just more remote and challenging. A very sharp machete is a must on any trip near Kindley Field. A banca landing near the ravine entrance would be interesting also.  Sorry we didn't find your caves Chet, if they still exist, I'm sure all is quiet inside now. We will try again on other trips.     

Tom Aring
Dallas TX

 


Cleaning up Corregidor’s South Beach
Beth D. Romulo
 

Extract from The Manila Bulletin 27 Jan 2003
 

FOLLOWING last November’s MoU signed between the Corregidor Foundation’s Exec. Director Lt. Col. Art Matibag and the Navy’s flag officer in command, Vice Admiral Victorino Hingco, clean up operations are being carried out to remove the boulders and debris from Corregidor’s South Beach. On January 18th, as president of the Corregidor Foundation, I was invited to watch the operation accompanied by Architect Augusto Villalon, UN consultant for Historical Heritage projects. We left Manila on a navy patrol boat escorted by Navy Vice Admiral Ariston de los Reyes who is slated to succeed Hingco when he retires in March.

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