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  by Robert S. Beightler, Jr.  
  The following is the story of how Lt. Beightler missed the Los Baņos Raid and almost got himself, his general and his jeep driver killed.  
  The scene was the Assembly Area at Mamatid Beach, south of Manila, February 22, 1945 - the night before the Raid on Los Baņos Prison. While the 1st Battalion (minus Company B) 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment was waiting for the 59 Amtracs to arrive at the beach, Major Henry Burgess, the Battalion Commander, ordered Lt. Beightler (Battalion S-2) to go back to the 11th Airborne Division Headquarters and bring back General Swing, who wanted to go along on the Raid.  It was late at night and it was pitch dark.  The major advised the lieutenant that somebody would be on the road to guide them back to the beach.  So away they went (Beightler, his driver and jeep) on a 5 to 8 mile trip to Division Headquarters.  On the way back in the darkness, on unfamiliar roads and driving with only blackout lights, the jeep suddenly came to an abrupt stop with tires squeaking loud in the silence of the night, stopping within 3 feet from the edge of a gorge, where a bridge was completely destroyed.  The drop would have been over 100 ft. straight down and all three undoubtedly would have been killed.  
  Colonel Beightler recalled the incident at the annual General Swing Dinner on November 20, 1988, at the "Flying Lady Restaurant" in Morgan Hill California. The colonel said, "In my life time, I have never, ever seen a man quite so mad, before or after. Since attending West Point, I had been looking forward to a career in the U.S. Army. At that point, I felt my career was over.  Discretion prevents me from telling you some of the words the general used.  At that moment, "I wished I had gone over the cliff."  
  After a brief conference, our driver turned back and groped in the dark and found the proper road to the beach just in time to see the last of the amphibious tractors, chugging away in the darkness, in Laguna de Bay some distance from the beach.  
  The colonel continued, "And the general turned to me and had a few other words to say, I went back into 'shock,' and that essentially is the end of the story."  
  Postscript: General Swing was a very tough commander, but also a gentleman of great compassion.  My career was not over and, indeed, lasted another 28 enjoyable years!   
  About the Author: About the Author: Robert S. Beightler retired as a Col. in the USA army. Bob passed away on 
  Feb. 6, 2003.  
  Courtesy of "WINDS ALOFT" Quarterly publication of the 511th PIR Association