The 317th Troop Carrier Group "Jungle Skippers" deliver their cargo to the landing zones of Topside. The unit comprised the 39th, 40th, 41st and 46th Troop Carrier Squadrons.



























Black Beach, looking towards Caballo Is., occupied the former area of Barrio San Juan. The barrio had been evacuated and levelled pre-war to provide clear lines of fire across the south channel.





Our planes were usually P-47s loaded with either two five-hundred-pounders, or two belly tanks of incendiary fuel. A two-hundred-gallon tank of that stuff bursting in the undergrowth of a ravine, flushes out the rodents in it most efficiently.

The infantryman often finds men of other branches standing in awe of his stories of personal contact with the enemy. Some of the bold and adventurous will occasionally ask to go on a patrol or visit the troops in contact in order to get a personal taste of it. Our Air Forces forward observer had the time of his life one day.

Company L of the 34th Infantry was scheduled for an attack up a large ravine past the north entrance to Malinta Tunnel. In preparation for it we were running an incendiary strike to burn out the heavy undergrowth and silence a Jap 20mm. in the area. The battalion executive officer and the air observer had a beautiful OP in a small trench overlooking the target area. When the planes passed over on the trial run, a six-foot Jap jumped out of the bushes, ran like mad up the narrow road about fifty yards and popped back into the bushes. The Air Forces lieutenant’s eyes bulged. “Hey, I could have got that bastard if I’d had an M1!”

The executive officer smiled, got an M1 from the near-by platoon sergeant and laid it over the parapet. “OK, there you are. Now, when the first bomb drops, keep your eyes open. He’ll probably flush again.”

The bomb dropped near the road. Out came the big Jap like a bat out of you know where. The lieutenant dropped him neatly. The other riflemen, having given the Air Forces officer a visitor’s courtesy, made sure that the Jap stayed down. The next plan was coming in, the phone rang madly. The excited lieutenant unconsciously answered it. The voice in his ear was angry. “What the hell are you doing up there? I’ve been ringing my head off! The pilots want to know if the bombs are going in OK!”

“Bombs? Oh, bombs! Yeah, they’re all right. Say, I just shot a Jap!”

Frequently and fortunately there were more planes available than we could use on close support targets. Normally, there were requests for about two strikes a day. The air base often sent enough planes for four or five strikes if we happened to need them. The liaison officer would say, “I’ve got fifteen planes overhead. Any targets?”

“Nothing right now.”

“OK, they’ve got about two hours of gas. I’ll keep them standing by and check again when they have about fifteen minutes left.”

If at the end of the two-hour period, no close-in targets moved up, the bombs were used “strategically” on the east end of the island, on likely storage areas and hideouts in ravines where naval gunfire couldn’t reach. After the bombs were dropped, the planes would rat race around and strafe for any Japs flushed by the bombing. One day, the liaison officer was sending a squadron on a “strategic” mission. The squadron commander asked, ”Is it OK to strafe in there?”

“OK to strafe. Go ahead.”


Then a strange voice came in. “This is so-and-so right over you. I’m coming home from reconnaissance. I haven’t and bombs, but may I join in the strafing?”

”Sure, come along?”

”Roger, Wilco, and thank you.”

Cooperation and coordination are wonderful things once everybody gets the idea.