THE ASSAULT, FIRST DAY AND NIGHT
The two columns of planes were doming in on the objective from a southeasterly direction (See Map C) and were over their targets --A and B fields -- when the parachutists began jumping at 0830 hours 18 February 1946. At 0829, the planes which were bombing, and strafing the island had lifted their fire from the landing areas and began to bomb and strafe the MALINTA HILL area which was east of the established bomb line. (See Map C) (42)
On the initial drop, the regimental commander, in the control plane, noticed several parachutists drifting over the steep cliffs -and some into the ocean. He immediately notified the planes flying in column, to lower the jump altitude to 500 feet above the drop zones and for the jumpmasters to count six -- instead of three -- after passing the "go-point". This was carried out and consequently the personnel hit their landing zones. This is the first time our unit had ever used a control plane, as such, and it proved its value a number of times. (43)
As mentioned before, Battalion headquarters, Headquarters Company and H Company' landed on Field A; G and I Companies landed on Field B. H Company secured Field A and I Company secured Field B. Battalion headquarters personnel moved quickly as possible to the lighthouse to set up the CP. G Company moved through the perimeter set up by I Company, eastward to take up positions on "Topside" to cover and support the 3d Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, who were making an amphibious landing at SAN JOSE beach at 1030 hours. The crew served weapons used to support this landing were .50 cal. machine guns from Battery D platoon and one 75 mm howitzer from Battery A, 462d Field Artillery Battalion. (44)
3d Battalion begin to move east from Landing Zone B.
Taking in all considerations regarding casualties on a combat jump, it was estimated the jump casualties, on this particular mission, would run close to 20 per cent -- mainly because of the hazardous terrain; however, the actual figure was only 10.7 per cont for all personnel who jumped. Of this percentage figure -- the 3d Battalion had 75 per cent of the casualties. The fact that the control plane corrected the time when leaving the plane, and the-wind had subsided be a lesser velocity, resulted in less jump injuries in the second lift. (45)
To effect proper naval and air support, after the assault had been committed, a detachment of JASCO (Joint Assault Signal Company) and SAP (Support Aircraft Party) had jumped with the 3d Battalion and setup communication immediately with the naval units lying off shore and the aircraft in the air and the rear base. (46)
Company H, after securing the field, proceeded to clear out the few enemy located in the enlisted men's barracks just north of the parade ground. (See Map D) In one of the rooms, one patrol discovered many cases of liquor and saki. A guard was immediately put upon this discovery; Up to this time, enemy opposition in all sectors of the line companies was slight. The air and naval bombardment had forced the Japanese to take cover and immediately, upon these fires being lifted, the parachutists landed -- effecting complete surprise.
Some of the men in I Company had drifted over the steep cliffs, southeast of Field B (See Map D). They assembled and started to move along a trail, which led to "Topside", to join their unit as quickly as possible. At a turn in the trail, west of Breakwater Point, these men encountered a small group of Japanese -- among them a Captain Ijn Itagaki, Naval Officer, who was commander of all Japanese forces upon the island. It was said that he left MALINTA TUNNEL, in order to view the incoming amphibious landing from Breakwater Point. (See Map D) The Japanese were quickly destroyed, with only a slight casualty among I Company personnel. (47)
At 1030, the amphibious forces landed on SAN JOSE BEACH. (See Map D) G and I Companies supported the landing with heavy machine guns assigned to them for this mission. (48) Enemy fire, from the caves in and around MALINTA HILL and BREAKWATER areas, was quite intensified at the initial landing. With Naval fire being directed at enemy positions, which were facing south and the 3d Battalion's parachutists firing towards western part of MALINTA HILL, the amphibious troops were able to make a successful landing. SAN JOSE BEACH had been mined with 130 mines which caused a few casualties and loss of some equipment. (49) Pushing forward, it was not long before their objective, MALINTA HILL, was taken. All entrances to MALINTA TUNNEL were covered with automatic fire.
The 2d Battalion began dropping at 1215, and by 1350 the drop was completed. As previously stated, the mission of the 2d Battalion was to relieve the 3d Battalion. To accomplish this with the most expeditious means -- the Battalion S-3 and executive officers of each company in the 2d Battalion accompanied the 3d Battalion on their drop, thus being able to know the up to date situation and acquaint their commanders with suoh and, too, they could effect the relief of the 3d more quickly.
H Company, upon being relieved by 2d Battalion units, immediately gained access to the high ground northeast of the hospital site. (See Map D) They were met with little opposition and patrols were sent out to the west and east to maintain enemy contact. Slight skirmishes occurred throughout the afternoon, with the Company feeling out the enemy. H Company was withdrawn to the rear of regimental headquarters, and went into a perimeter for the night. It is well to note -- every night spent upon the island, the companies of 3d Battalion went into perimeter defense. (50)
G Company had supported the amphibious landings from positions west of the bomb line. At 1630 hours, G Company commander effected contact with 3d Battalion, 34th Infantry, and had his Company in the old gun positions between South Dock and North Dock and to the north. (See Map D) G Company commander did not wish to be caught in the gun positions at night; therefore, it was arranged for G Company to withdraw to the high ground, to rear of gun positions. (See Map D) and the area left vacant by this move would be covered by both G Company and 3d Battalion, 34th Infantry. (51)
I Company's machine guns helped support the amphibious landing from the 250 foot contour line. After being relieved by 2d Battalion units, I Company, less one platoon, took up positions northeast of Field B and generally along the 250 foot contour line.
1st platoon, Company I, was between F and D Companies, 2d Battalion with mission of covering enemy approaches leading into southwest portion of Field B. (See Map D) Towards dusk, I Company as a whole was withdrawn to within the perimeter set up by 2d Battalion. This was done in order to give I Company a little rest, as the battalion commander had them scheduled for an early morning attack towards Breakwater Point.
The battalion commander called his company commanders to report to the OP at 1700 hours, in regards to orders and missions for the following day. G Company was to hold their ground, send out patrols and help support the landing of the lst Battalion, 503d Parachute Infantry, which was making an amphibious landing at 1345 hours 18 February. The Rook Forge Commander had requested XI Corps for permission to bring his 1st Battalion in amphibiously, as the -2d and 3d Battalions of the 503d and the 3d Battalion, 34th Infantry had the situation in hand, and it was no use incurring more jump injuries if it could be avoided. His request was sanctioned. (52) H Company was to have as its objective –MORRISON HILL. See Map D) In the attack, Company E, 2d Battalion would support by fire from their positions. I Company would attack towards BREAKWATER POINT area and clear out all enemy; also, to seal all caves with help from the demolition section from regiment. (See Map E) (53)
Harassing fire during the night was maintained by our artillery, in position on the parade ground (Field A, See Map D), on likely avenues of approaches leading into G and H positions.
The two navy destroyers, supporting the ground troops, illuminated the entire island on call, with illumination shells. (54) G Company occupying the high ground astride the road, killed six of the enemy who were trying to infiltrate their positions. (55) H company also had enemy trying to infiltrate their positions and had undergone enemy mortar fire spasmodically during the night.
EVENTS DURING 17 FEBRUARY
h Company took off at dawn, 17 February, and launched a coordinated attack against the objective -- MORRISON HILL area. Company E supported H Company with machine gun fire, until the latter company reached the objective. This important terrain feature would well have aided the enemy defenses, but it was only slightly defended and by 1000 hours H Company had secured the area. (56)
Due to the rugged terrain and the few trails available, I Company made their attack with combat patrols -- one patrol on the high ground running parallel with the trails, and another patrol following the trails. The trails led generally to the southeast and to the vicinity of Breakwater Point. All day long, skirmishes were held and even though the enemy's total casualties were much greater -- I Company had incurred a number of casualties in and around the entrances to the many caves they came upon. The troopers found, while they were covering entrances to caves, they would be fired upon from another direction. This meant, when attacking a number of caves, they must look around for other exits. Also, they found out that the caves in many instances were so located that one cave covered another. It became SOP to expect a cave or position of some type at every bend in a trail. Then again, it was found that the Japanese would sacrifice long fields of fire, in order to gain concealment. At 1630 hours, I Company took up position on the perimeter between E and D Companies, 2d Battalion.
At approximately 1345 hours, the 1st Battalion, 503d, which had flown over the island earlier in the day, dropping their supply bundles, continued on to airfields in the BATAAN area where transportation met the personnel and loaded them on Attack Personnel Destroyers. As the LCVP's approached San Jose Beach, they were fired upon by enemy automatic weapons facing seaward from the caves amongst the cliffs. The ships withdrew out in Caballo Bay, and the navy destroyers fired at these point targets and cleared the way for the battalion's landing. During the landing, G company and the 3d Battalion, 34th Infantry supported the landing by firing at targets which presented themselves. The 1st Battalion moved into the general area where G Company was and G Company moved towards "Topside", to take over I Company's position where they went into a perimeter defence. H Company went into a perimeter defense in Morrison Hill area for the night. Outside of the usual infiltration tactics during the night, all was fairly normal. (57)