Reasons for Air’s Successes
Our air support worked exceptionally well because:
The Air Forces had the planes and wanted to use
Every effort was made to fill all requests.
The air liaison officer and his party knew their
business and had a desire to produce.
No unreasonable or wasteful requests were made by
While I’m on the subject, I believe a few general
suggestions for better air support are in order:
Make five bombers available for close tactical
support whenever possible. The average close-support target is
either a spot target or a small area target requiring great accuracy
to get satisfactory results. Accuracy is important for troop safety
on close targets. (The close we Doughboys can get for a quick
follow-in, the better we like it). It’s a tough job for a
glide-bombing fighter pilot to be this accurate.
We’d like more rockets. Nothing like a sizzling
howling rocket for spot accuracy and for making Christians out of
When there are plenty of pilots and planes
available, why not designate some outfits as ground-cooperation
squadrons? Give pilots special training on it. Teach them some
ground tactics and show them how they fit into the picture. Have a
few field exercise with Infantry battalion staffs, air liaison
parties and the planes flying dummy missions with flour sacks.
We can tighten teamwork by basing the supporting
squadrons close to the ground operational area and bringing the
pilots to the area after a mission to see the destruction and the
dead Japs the have produced. Nothing fosters pride in a job like
seeing the results. “I just shot a Jap!” Hell, how about “I got
fifty-two on that mission this morning”?
With the decrease of Jap air power and the increase
of bitter ground fighting (witness Okinawa), close tactical air support
becomes more possible from the Air Forces view and more important and
necessary from the Ground Forces view.
The Malinta OP
Before mentioning our naval gunfire support, I’ll
tell you about the Malinta Hill OP. Before the war, a concrete OP on the
top of Malinta Hill, known as base end station B-23 was used for
artillery direction. It is dug into the rock, has overhead cover, and
affords a grand view of the entire island. Every officer ever stationed
on Corregidor knows the spot. I met Major Jules Yates after his
liberation from Cabanatuan, and found that he had used this OP to defend
Corregidor from Japs. He was happy to know that the same OP had been
used to drive them off.
Our Company L had an officer on duty there around the
clock. After a day or two, they had learned all the most likely places
to nail a few Japs. Machine guns were adjusted on road junctions, cave
entrances, paths, etc. The 81mm. mortar observers did likewise with
their guns. From there on, it was a game, mostly at night, observing
fire by the light of the moon and Navy star shells. One or two Japs
moving down a road was a challenge to the mortar observer to fire his
gun at the precise instant which would bring Jap and the shell together.
A miss of five yards, even though it got the Jap, brought derisive
remarks. When a Jap column appeared, school was out and a field day in
order. The best Malinta Hill OP field day story comes later in speaking
of naval gunfire.
Our pre-landing bombardment was copious, well places
and was furnished by cruisers, destroyers, gunboats, rocket firing LCI’s
and PT boats. On D-day the fire never ceased from the opening of the
heavy guns at daylight until our first wave touched shore amid the dust
of the final volleys of five-inch shells.
My best story of naval support concerns our floating
artillery. The destroyers which stood offshore day after day giving
close support with gnat’s-eye accuracy were a main factor in the
retaking of Corregidor. The set-up was similar to that of field
artillery and air support, a liaison party and a forward observer party.
These parties come from the Joint Assault Signal Companies made up of
individuals from both the Army and Navy. JASCO is a good outfit and
deserves a lot of credit. Their men on Corregidor showed plenty guts and
We had two destroyers available at all times, day and
night. During the day, one destroyer sat dead in the water off the south
shore firing on any likely looking target east of Malinta Hill, while
the other worked around the west end, firing mission for the
paratroopers in their clean-up of the rugged ravines and cliffsides in
that area. At night, one destroyer lay out west of the island firing
star-shell illumination until the moon rose, while the other patrolled
outside the bay entrances though still available to fire on call.