"THE DEATH OF KARSTEN HALL, NEGROS ISLAND "
_________________
Chet Nycum*

 

 

 

 

*Chet Nycum letter to Karl Thompson, nephew of Karsten Hall.

Karl,

At your request I will try to paint a verbal picture of the Negros  mission.

I just returned to the outfit (503rd now located on Mindoro Island) after 47 days in the hospital being treated for wounds received on Corregidor.  The regiment was getting ready for the Negros strike.  I collected my gear and made ready.

We boarded planes at the strip on Mindoro and took off.  En route we were told that we would not be jumping on Negros but rather that we would land on Panay and cross to Negros by LCM.

Arriving on Negros we boarded trucks and were moved inland.  The 40th Div. was already in combat on the island, and we were moved to their left  flank, to engage the troops that were flanking the 40th Div.

How long we were fighting and moving forward I no longer remember, but I do recall a Banzai charge that lasted, it seems, forever. It was judged there were 500  Japanese attacking.  On another occasion the Japanese crept in during the night and were on top of us at dawn. Hand to hand we lost seven men, they lost seven.

Our fighting was always uphill, the Japanese were dug in so we had to rout them out.  Paratroopers have no heavy weapons so it all had to be done with small arms. I have no idea how many men were killed as we moved  forward, but one I will never forget .

On patrol in the foothills of the mountains, in an area of rain forest we came upon a patrol of Americans we  assumed were from the 40th Div.  We shouted and waved to attract their attention , they in turn opened fire.  A trooper named Guthrie was hit but the bullet struck a grenade on his webbing. We all heard the detonator go off.  As the grenade dropped to the ground, every one hit the dirt.  Guthrie threw himself on the grenade to protect the rest of the squad.  Guthrie was given no medal for bravery because our commander did not believe in giving medals.

 

"G" company moved forward up the mountain. The 1st platoon walked into a  Japanese position, their scout was killed.  The Japanese position was a knoll roughly 200 ft across the top. The approach to the position was a ridge with the ground sloping off to the right and a sheer cliff on the left, rising from a river.  The scout that was killed was about 200 ft from the Japanese line.  A machine gun, Nambu type, was dug in on the right front.  That gun killed the scout. The patrol returned to our lines and I was told to see if I could recover the body.  Scared as hell, I went up to where the scout was laying.  He was at the base of a large tree, of the type that had  fins around the base.  Our trooper was on the forward side of the tree, exposed to the machine gun.  I reached around the tree and grabbed clothing on his shoulders, but the weight was too much and I would expose myself no further.  I did see that he had been searched and his ring finger cut off.  I moved back and reported my actions, found a place to lay down and spent the night.

At dawn Lt. Whittig called on me to lead the company back up and to attack and take that machine gun. He surprised me when he handed me a 100 round drum magazine.  After a cup of coffee I moved out.  The second scout  was a trooper named Andy Pacella who was about 100 ft to my rear.  The  rest of "G" company followed.  I moved up without incident until I was at a point where if I stood erect I could see across the top of the hill.  I straightened up and there were four Japanese soldiers, three with rifles slung on their shoulders and one, with his back to me, wearing a sword , apparently an officer.  I brought my tommygun and fired bursts of three into each man.  They fell and I strafed the ground to ensure the kill.

I quickly dropped the 100 round drum magazine and jammed a 20 clip into gun.  Suddenly I saw movement in the corner of my eye, and turning to my right I was facing a Japanese soldier who had me in his sights. I don't know why he did not fire, but his hesitation cost him his life.

I started to move on the machine gun when I heard Andy calling my name.  Taking a quick look back to see what he wanted he motioned that we were being called back and when I looked for the men behind Andy they had started down the hill.

The balance of the day was spent watching to see that whatever Japanese were on the hill would not attack us.

3KARSTEN HALL 

Toward evening the second platoon was called on to maneuver around the Japanese position and attack from the rear.  I was, once again, to lead 1st and 3rd platoons up on a frontal attack.  At dawn I received orders to move out.  I carefully moved back up the same path I had taken two times before.  Just as I reached the military crest of the hill I heard the Nambu open up.  It fired two bursts of about five rounds each. I leaped forward to get into the fight and one of the second platoon men waved me down and pointed to my left front, where there was one of our  men down.

The Japanese had pulled the gun from the bunker to a point in the left rear where they could see anyone moving across the top.

Unfortunately, your uncle had to be the scout that got to their position first.  Karsten L. Hall was hit in the upper torso and died instantly .

Karl, I have written this in more detail than I needed to, but it is only a brief pause when you consider your uncle’s involvement at Markham Valley, Hollandia, Noemfoor, Corregidor and Negros.  You have an uncle to be proud of.  Had you not sent me Karsten’s picture and told me Sleepy’s story of the foot locker, I am sure I would never have recalled the incidents I have written about. 

Stay in touch .

Chet Nycum  

 

 

BOOZE AND BOOTY | THE TRUCK | THE CORREGIDOR BRASS TURKEY SHOOT | FT MILLS PLAQUE | BOB HOPE AT NOEMFOOR | NO SUICIDE CLIFF | 'DOC' BRADFORD | MYSTERIOUS WAYS | MY FIRST COMBAT PATROL | THE DEATH OF BENNY SLOWE | MIRACLE AT NOEMFOOR | THE DEATH OF KARSTEN HALL | SONGS & SLOGANS |WATER, WATER NOWHERE | NO SMOKING! | BRONZE STAR AT BANZAI POINT | ON THE BEACH AT CORREGIDOR | REUNION GOSSIP 1949  |  CORREGIDOR WHISKEY

 

 

 

         

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