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'S/Sgt 'F' Company, 2d Bn, 503d PRCT

K.I.A., Negros

9 April 1945

The men had breakfast & company moved out at 0830 to attack San Isidro which was the foothills of the mountains. For the mission we were assigned 2 M-4 tanks and a demolition section. unable to cross the Imbang River, the tanks turned back 7 the Irfantry went on. The 2nd platoon contacted the enemy in Sinapanan. After the company had been repulsed. We returned to our previous positions which we had occupied the night before. During this action S/Sgt. James Jackson was fatally wounded & 1st Lt. Lee & Sgt. LeRoy Eide were slightly wounded.


"F" Co History, 9 April 1945


"F" Company was given the mission of going to and patrolling the area of San Isidro which was about 4-5 miles away as the crow flies. Most of the locations were named for the plantations ,e.g., Hacienda San Isidro. After reaching this objective on a northeast line of march, we were to move south along the bank for a half mile to Sinaypanan. Some enemy activity was suspected in this area. A company of Filipino "Regulars" from the 74th Infantry (Philippines) was attached to us to move on Sinaypanan from the south. Two M-4 Sherman, tanks from the 2d platoon, "C" Company, 716th Tank Bn. were also attached to "F" Co. A forward observer, Capt. William P. Brazil from our 462d PFA, and his radio operator were also attached. The other attachment was a demolition section. We had never operated with tanks. With all this fire power we felt invincible. Since we had all this fire power and a lot of distance to cover in one day's time I don't think we took our 60mm mortars.

Our powerful force moved out about 0830 with the tanks following the lead platoon. We'd find the enemy, blast them, and then overrun them; however, our feeling of euphoria did not last long, because soon we approached the broad, shallow waters of the Maglago River. The water was about ankle deep, and the bed was of small rocks and gravel. The tanks stopped and held a conference. Then they announced that the crossing was too difficult to attempt. The platoon leader told us that his commanding officer had told him not to cross any streams or obstacles which might endanger his tanks, and in his judgment this crossing would endanger his tanks. He turned around and left. We were of the opinion that these guys were afraid and looking for a reason to quit. Most of us had operated with tanks on problems back in the States in much worse terrain than this. We were disgusted and formed a distrust of the tanks which supported us that would last throughout the entire operations.

This was not all. After we left the river we were walking through grass about three feet tall. Visibility was excellent. The guerrillas should be visible on our right rear angling off from our line of march. They never appeared from the trees along the low river banks. In a short time we we had lost tanks and Infantry support. Even though they were guerrillas 200 men would help. Our orders were to go to the objective so on we went, help or no help.

The fields were broken by tree-lined streams. Most of the stream beds were dry. It was hot now, and we were sweating. Our progress was slow. The trees and brush around the draws had to be searched. We moved on until near noon we could see a big house off to our left as we approached the bluffs along the river delta. This was Hacienda San Isidro. It was partly wrecked along with a number of buildings around it. We reached the bluffs and fairly tall tree growing there. The bluffs were about twenty to thirty feet tall. At their base was a flat delta about a half mile wide. On the far side of the delta the terrain rose sharply. The vegetation and trees were heavy here. We found a small, unoccupied, frame house almost hidden by the vegetation and trees. The back of the house was bordering the bluff. We sent out patrols. One went to the hacienda several hundred yards away. There were no signs of the enemy.

After thoroughly searching the area we moved south toward Sinaypanan. The bluffs were on our left. Not far from the bluffs was a shallow river. Across the delta near the foot-hills was another shallow river.

Sinaypanan was in view all the way. The land rose here, and there was a grove of trees where a house had once stood. When we were within about 300 yards of the trees the enemy entrenched there opened up with heavy automatic and rifle fire. We were caught out in the open open field and under intense fire. Fortunately a broad drainage ditch, some fifteen feet wide and four feet deep, was nearby. We made it into the ditch by running a few steps, hitting the ground, crawling a few steps, and then running again. After everyone was in the ditch we assessed the damages. S/Sgt James Jackson had been hit in the body and was paralyzed from his waist down. 1st Lt Dan Lee, 3rd platoon leader, had been hit in his thigh. Sgt LeRoy was also wounded, hit in the thigh.

Now we were in a bad situation and needed fire support. Capt Brazil said right off that he was afraid the artillery might not reach Sinaypanan. He called for a registering round at extreme range. We waited expectantly, hoping the artillery would be able to place effective fire on the Japanese position. To our great disappointment the first round was well short of the target. We could see the round burst out in the open field at least a quarter of a mile short. Capt Brazil had them try several rounds, but to no avail. We were beyond our artillery's range. We felt isolated and alone. Usually a light machine gun platoon from 2r Battalion Headquarters Company was attached, but in this instance battalion had not done so. To get to the Japs we had to cross several hundreds yards of open field. To do this without support was suicide.

I do not know what Bill Bailey had in mind, and before we could discuss it someone called out that the Japs were running. Unbelieving I stood up looking at the position the Japs occupied. I could see a miracle happening. The Japs were running through the trees to the bluffs. We moved to the former Jap positions and the buffs. There they were far out on the delta crossing the most distant stream and disappearing into forest. We could see a good size force of fifty or more men with several machine guns. They were carrying the guns still mounted on their tripods, the carriers on each side carrying a leg. The aerial machine guns mounted on fabricated tripods were-hard to separate, so the crews carried them in one piece.

We were sure that our artillery had frightened them, and they were getting out before a heavy barrage struck them.

After the war while we guarding the Jap prisoners at Fabrica, I asked the Japanese major in command to see if he could find anyone who had been at Sinaypanan that day, and if he could I wanted to talk to him. He found a lieutenant who had, indeed been there that day. I had him brought up with a warrant officer to interpret. The Jap said they were well dug in and expected artillery fire. They had received word that a large force with two tanks were coming their way. They had no anti-tank weapons, and knew that with the broad river delta behind them, they would be trapped when the tanks arrived; therefore, they got out while they could. I was amazed.

It was now past mid-afternoon, we had three wounded men, so we did not tarry. Litters had to be fashioned out of staves and ponchos. Lee, although the bullet had gone through the upper inside pert of his thigh, insisted on walking. He made it, but in much pain particular toward the end. Bill Bailey was also suffering. We did not know it but he was sick with hepatitis (they called it "infectious hepatitis" back then). Both he and Lee staggered in on guts. Sergeant Eide's wound was such that he had to be carried on one of the improvised litters. Jackson, of course, had to be carried. He was in good spirits laughing and joking with us, telling us that he didn't have to walk back like the rest of us. He was a small man with sandy colored, wavy hair, and a mustache. He was always in good spirits, and well liked by the entire company. Even though we were forewarned of the prognosis, we were stunned to receive the message that this brave brother died three days after he was wounded.

Now every squad leader in the 2d platoon who had jumped on Corregidor was dead: S/Sgt Charles Hoyt, S/Sgt Donald White, and S/Sgt James Jackson.

We got back to our perimeter of the night before about dark. Bill Bailey and James Jackson were evacuated. Bailey's illness would hospitalize him for almost two months. As executive officer I would assume command of the company in Bill's absence. 1st Lt William C. Mathers commanded the 1st platoon, 1st Lt Robert L. Clark commanded the 2d platoon, 2d Lt Chalmers Fennel commanded the 3d platoon, 2nd Lt Leroy T. Elliott commanded the 4th (mortar) platoon, and 2d Lt Milton Walker acted as executive officer.

Thus "F" Company entered into the Negros fray, and after one day had one experienced combat officer, two newly commissioned officers who had combat experience as non commissioned officers, three replacement officers fresh from the States. We had lost some good non-commissioned officers and some good men who would have made good non coms.

Bill Calhoun




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Last Updated: 08-07-10