Fitzhugh Millican



In 1945 I was a Pfc in the Mortar Platoon of  "E" Company, Second Battalion of the 503d PRCT when it jumped on Corregidor. On February 16, 1945 as I was helping Jimmy Rovolis tear down our part of the tent, Rovolis found a wartime penny. I said "Rovolis, you got your luck." He said "I don't need any luck,  you need it more than I." He flipped me the penny, and I have that penny today.

 We left and went to the airport and at the airport Preston MacArthur who was in my platoon had some white lightning. The American Red Cross was there with lemonade which was battery acid so we chased the battery acid.

 As we got on the plane with no equipment we had to have help to get dressed before we reached Corregidor. I had received a box of Tampa Nugget cigars from home and I gave every man on the plane a cigar.

I was jumping in the first stick. Sgt Gulsvick was jump master, Jimmy Rovolis was was second, Musolino was third, Emory High was fourth, Hicks was fifth, Marcus was sixth, and I was seventh pushing the stick. As we went out of the plane, every man had a cigar in his mouth. I don't know if he was smoking it or not.

When I hit the ground I landed in a shell hole. I immediately cut myself free, and then I saw this paratrooper coming toward a stone wall about six feet high and ten feet long. He hit the wall head on, and I figured it probably broke his neck. I crawled over to him and cut him out, and it happened to be Norman Petzelt. He was a Sgt in my platoon, and he jumped in the second stick. He was unconscious. When he came to he jumped up and said "Let's go!" and he took off across the parade field with snipers shooting at him. You could see the dust being kicked up by him. Fortunately he didn't get hit.

Then I went to my assembly area. When I reached there Lt. Ball, my platoon leader, was there and some others out of my platoon, but Gulsvick, Rovolis, Musolino, High, and Hicks were not present.  I told Ball "Let's go after them!" Well they had hit in James Ravine, and he had seen them there because he was jumping in the 3rd stick, so he gave me a direct order,  Don't leave the area."  Now Gulsvick and the others who landed short had among the Japs  were killed by enemy fire. We lost our mortar, which Rovolis and Musolino jumped with. So Marcus and I took off with one squad that had a mortar,  to set up at the end of the building. As we went through the barracks room by room, Prince was our medic, and McKeown was acting as scout. We ran into this big room that was filled with boxes that looked like gin, and some soft drink, and beer. Well, we were afraid that maybe it might be poisoned. McKeown said, "If it's poisoned I'll  drink some. If I'm not dead in five minutes you'll know I'm alright."          

So he opened. a bottle of beer, drank it and said, "this is beer'.  He opened another bottle and said "this one's gin." He opened another one and said "this one tastes like 7-Up." We stood around waiting for him to die, but he didn't, and he was taking drinks all along. So we had found the gin, the beer and the chasers in this room. We went on down and set up our mortar, but we left a guard in this room , but then we came to the room and we took what we wanted and then passed the word around what we had found. Had the Japs decided to overrun us that night, we were feeling pretty good- they would have had one helluva battle!  CLICK TO TURN PAGE