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
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
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!