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    Seven days after returning from the mountains in Leyte, the 187th was alerted for the impending Luzon operation. These history makers were to become familiar with such places as Nasugbu, Batangas, Mt. Aiming, Tagaytay Ridge, the Genko Line, Nichols Field, Fort McKinley, Cavite and Manila.  
  On 31 January 1945, a convoy of LCPs, LCIs, LSTs and APDs, carrying the 187th and 188th arrived off Nasugbu Bay to begin Operation Mike VI. Following preparatory naval shelling, the first wave headed for shore. At noon the Army commander decided to exploit the landing and General Swing was ordered to land the remainder of the division and proceed to Manila. On landing, the First Battalion was attached to the 188th for the land push north while the Second and Third Battalions assumed responsibility for the operation and defense of Nasugbu. One battery of the 674th remained to support the 187th in defense of the port. At midnight of the 31st the First Battalion of the 187th passed through the 188th to continue the advance up Highway 17 toward Tagaytay Ridge. Meeting small Japanese delaying parties, the troopers brushed them aside and continued to advance. Approaching the heavily wooded Mt. Cariliao-Mt. Aiming-Mt. Batulao defile, the battalion came under devastating fire. It became evident that the Japenese were now ready to fight. The First Battalion, 187th, and Second Battalion, 188th, continued attacking abreast toward the east. The Japanese regimental command post was overrun in the vicinity of Aga at 1300 hours.  
  Huge stores of supplies were seized.  In the meantime, the remainder of the 187th had cleaned out flank positions at San Diego and Nasugbu points.  
  Beginning the final attack on the Cariliao-Butulao line on the third, the land forces were heartened by the sight of the first jump serial of the 511th over Lake Taal at 0815 on Feb. 3rd 1945. Tagaytay Ridge, the drop zone, was on the northern slope of a volcano. Shorty Ridge, the center of the last fanatical Japanese resistance, was attacked from both sides while the Japanese were battered by artillery and air support. The high ground was secured and, with the exception of Japenese left in caves on Shorty Ridge, highway 17 was clear.  
  At this point the 11th Airborne Division held a beachhead a hundred yards wide and sixty-nine miles long. The mission of protecting this corridor fell to the 187th. Impressing Filipino guerrillas, and later utilizing the 19th Infantry RCT, Colonel Hildebrand took over the vast task of covering the large area that the rapid advance had liberated.  In a few days the 187th moved forward and took part in the attack on the Genko Line. The line consisted of a series of concrete pillboxes, mutually supporting and extending six thousand yards in depth through the Manila Polo Club. It stretched east across Nichols Field and anchored on the high ground of Mabato Point along Laguna de Bay. The rear of the line was based on the high ground of Fort McKinley. Many of the concrete pillboxes were two and three stories deep. Six thousand strong, the Japanese Southern Unit Manila Defense Force, occupied over 1,200 pillboxes.    
  On the sixth, while the 511th drove north up the left flank, the First Battalion, 187th, attached to the 188th’s Second Battalion, succeeded in breaking through the southern defenses on Nichols Field.  On the 12th the First Battalion of the 187th, commanded by Colonel Norman Tipton, following a coordinated attack by the 511th, which came up on line with the remainder of the division and the field was secured.  The three regiments then turned and headed for Fort McKinley and Mabato Point, the remaining strongholds and the Jap Defensive Line. Seizing Fort McKinley, the attackers moved to isolate the last Jap stronghold at Mabato. With the reduction of the Genko Line, the capture of part of Manila and the seizure of Nichols Field and Fort McKinley, the 187th had reason to be proud of its accomplishments.  
  On 23rd February the division was given the mission of destroying all the Japenese in Southern Luzon south of Manila. Guerrillas attached to the 187th proved themselves invaluable. Without their assistance the paratroopers would have suffered many more losses. In addition to opening the Batangas Highway, the immediate objective was to free Manila Harbor. The 187th and 511th Regiments were to attack abreast to destroy the Japenese on the southern shore. The route of attack was to go through the narrow neck of land between Lake Taal and Laguna de Bay. On the northern shore of Lake Taal, the 187th proceeded from Talisay, on the road to Tanauan without resistance until it came up to Hill 660. The regiment was attacking with two battalions abreast, the First on the left making the main effort, and the Second on the right, scouring the terrain south of the Tanauan road. About three hundred yards west of Hill 660 the regiment came under extremely heavy mortar and automatic weapons fire from the Japanese positions on the hill.  
  In three days of heavy fighting the 187th enveloped the position by moving through the dense bamboo groves and capturing the key position, a fortress of pillboxes surrounding a converted concrete water tank. On top of the hill the enemy was partially routed out of a veritable underground garrison of large interconnected caves. Many Japanese were sealed in the large, hollow rooms where they could be heard screaming and scratching on dirt-filled exits.  
  At about this time Colonel Hildebrand departed and Colonel George Pearson assumed command of the 187th.  Taking over the mission of reducing Japanese positions on the southwestern slopes of Mt. Macolod, where the 187th prepared for its bloodiest and toughest battle of the Luzon Campaign.  In this area, the Japanese had constructed a formidable defensive position. They had employed impressed Filipino laborers to construct underground positions and, to insure secrecy, had slain the laborers when the job was completed. Only dummy positions were visible from the air and the mountain bristled with artillery and automatic weapons carefully laid to cover all approaches with interlocking bands of fire. The 187th’s initial frontal attack was minus one battalion, which created an attack by one battalion. The First Battalion movement was a wide envelopment calculated to strike the position in the vicinity of Bukel Hill. Then the rest of the 187th moved eastward from Lipa toward Mt. Malepunyo and the village of Sulac at its base. As they crossed the first low ridge east of the City of Lipa they were hit by a prolonged artillery barrage plus  
  heavy mortar and automatic weapons fire. Weary from its fierce battles of Brownie Ridge, the 187th needed reinforcements. The Third Battalion of the 511th, fresh after resting for twelve hours as division reserve, was attached.  
  To attack and destroy the Macolod position the 760th and 756th Artillery Battalions, and the 472nd and 675th 105mm Howitzers, were placed in support of the 187th, as well as a company of chemical mortars, a company of medium tanks and a company of tank destroyers. A coordinated attack was launched with the two battalions abreast. The First Battalion attacked and seized Bukel Hill and retained it as a departure point. Advance was slow, particularly on the left flank, where it was necessary for the troops to proceed across the bare face of Brownie Ridge, which was swept by mortar and machine gun fire.  
  Tank destroyers were placed along the highway just west of Dita where they could fire directly at the mouths of the caves in the side of the mountain. 155mm howitzers were towed up to the front lines where they could lay directly on the caves with armor-piercing shell.  Then, as the tanks moved across and up the slope of Brownie Ridge, Buzz Miley (from G-511th) took his company up the sheer southwestern side almost to the top of the mountain. When he came over the crest and started back down to hit the Japanese from the rear, the whole line moved forward.  
  On 20 April the 187th overran the mountain. After the fall of Mt. Macolod and the Malepunyo there were no longer enough Japenese concentrated in any one spot to permit the establishment of front lines. Those who did remain were gathered in small, starving pockets in the mountains and lived from day to day, awaiting discovery by American troops. The 187th was given the job of ferreting out these pockets. Then, on the 29th of May, the 187th assumed the detail of garrisoning Manila.  
  Anticipating a full-scale invasion of the Japanese homeland in the fall of 1945, training was intensified.  Following the atomic bomb drops on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, (August 6 & 9, 1945 respectively) the 187th was notified on August 11th, that it would participate in the spearhead landing by the Allied Occupation Forces.  At 1200 hours the same day the troopers were told that planes would start arriving at Lipa Airstrip to start the move to Okinawa.  The 187th, with the remainder of the 11th Airborne Division, flew from Lipa to Okinawa where they established a temporary camp while waiting for the final peace terms to be settled. Speed was the keynote but concern for military reaction to the surrender dictated that troops would land in Japan with complete combat equipment.   
  Courtesy of “The Lt. Vincent J. McDonald Chapter” a quarterly published Newsletter.  
  Minor editing was done to this article by the WebMaster  
  Copyright © Leo F. Kocher  
  11th/511th Airborne