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  by Dean Marks  HQ2-511th PIR  
  The 511th PIR jumped on February 3, 1945, at Tagaytay Ridge. That Ridge overlooks Lake Taal, an ancient volcanic crater lake with an active volcano, on a lava island in the middle of the lake. The jump on the ridge took the Japanese by complete surprise. The title of the story is derived from a tank that was destroyed by a 500 pound aerial bomb, that had been rigged as a land mine on Highway 17 in the city of Paranque, a suburb of Manila. The phrase "The Day the Tank Blew Up" as a time reference from that point on. The actual date would be February 6, 1945.  
  We boarded Landing Craft Infantry (L.C.I.) at Bito Beach, Abuyog, Leyte, after about one month of rest, resupply and replacements from the States. We had spent half of November and almost all of December, including Christmas 1944, under severe weather and jungle combat conditions in the Leyte mountains between Dulag-Burauen on the east and Alburea-Ormoc on the west coast.  
  It was a hot January 27th, when we walked up the ramps of the L.C.I.'s. For once there were no wet shoes, socks or pants, plus sand that was usually associated with any type of landing craft. You generally got wet walking on them and very wet getting off. These babies punched right up to the shore and had gangplank type ramps on either side of the bow. Naturally, they were gray, with big white numbers, and the paint still smelled. Our quarters were cramped, just bunks with canvas. It was okay though, much better then we had been used to for the previous two months. We shoved off at midmorning, with the L.C.I. winching itself back in to deep water. There were about 100 of us on each ship, and seeing that the entire 511th was moving, there must have been about twenty L.C.I.'s making up the convoy. We knew we were headed for Mindoro Island, but didn't know why at this point in time. Mindoro lies northwest of Leyte, but rather than sail directly northwest past Cebu, Panay, and other smaller islands still held by Japanese forces, we sailed southwest out of Abuyog then swung almost due north, when we got   
  around the island of Negros most southern point. San Jose, Mindoro, was our destination. The trip took two days and one night. Our L.C.I. broke down in the middle of the night. I don't know what the problem was, but we had to transfer to another one which pulled along side. A few of the guys got a little wet during the transfer. Nothing serious happened during the switch. We lived on sack lunches, K-rations, and weak Navy coffee.  
  We pulled into San Jose at high noon. The L.C.I. ran right up on the sandy beach. After the war was over, I found out that my high school buddy, Burt Patwell, was a radioman in the L.C.I. squadron that landed us. Small world! We marched route step to an airstrip and just sat around until dark. Of course, we ate some of our K-rations before turning in for the night. My buddy, Westbrook had a thing about American cheese in his dinner ration. He'd kill for it! I traded with him occasionally. He would stick it on his canteen fork and grill it over an open fire. When the sun set, we all laid down and curled up in balls, in a rough platoon formation. We didn't have blankets or pup tents, just our ponchos. Being it was warm and dry with few insects, it was a fairly nice night.   
  Lt. "Fearless" Fosdick got out LMG platoon on their feet about 4:00AM. We hoofed it to the C-47 Troop Carriers. Where we were then informed where we were going, but didn't know what lay ahead. You don't feel that you're going to get hurt! More apprehensive about the jump than the Japanese I wondered now what Jack Howser and Whitey Outcalt's thoughts were. In two short days they would be laying dead on the street in the outskirts of Manila. All this way, to die. The infantry dies and dies in rotten weather, always tired, cold, hungry and a seemingly endless series of trails to traverse, to ambush, or to get ambushed. I had my fill of that on Leyte, as did all the rest. Going to Luzon was just one more step closer to home.    
  The C-47's loomed up in the darkness like silent marine monsters of some class B horror movie. They stood silent, although we could hear the crew chiefs talking with ground crew personnel. I remember "Red" Peters and "Fearless" Fosdick telling us that this was our plane. We just sort of mingled in a group next to the open door, just to rear of the left wing. It was a gray dawn. The parachutes were lined up Army style on the ground and we were told to pick one out and get into it. I grabbed one that was close, and to get into the harness with "full field" wasn't an easy matter. We each needed help. I unhooked the two snaps on my mussett bag (knapsack) and with it secured to top of my web harness, swung it over my head so it hung in front of me at belly level, backside to the front. Then, I hoisted the harness of the T-5 chute over my shoulders, with the leg straps dangling loose behind me. After snapping the front chest straps, I fished the leg (ball breaker) straps through my legs, being careful that they weren't twisted, and snapped them into their respective D-rings at lower belly level. As usual, the chute was   
  extremely tight. It was hard to bend in any direction. Westbrook needed a little help, so I checked his harness and he checked the back of mine. No one was saying much. Only a word here and there, no joking. Every one was just a little limp and anxious. I snapped on a reserve chute and fed the "belly band" through its openings and secured it tightly to its clasp. Brehm tightened the slack on all of my in assessable adjusting straps and I did his.  
  I eased my carbine diagonally back of my reserve chute and then put the final tightening operation on the "belly band". I had my canteen, first aid kit and trench knife where they belonged with help from Westbrook. After we did his, and we were ready to load up. It was not easy climbing the step ladder type steps into the plane. You couldn't bend properly with all the equipment, the harness was tight, hurting your shoulder ligaments and you were sweating under your helmet and in every joint in your body. Nevertheless, with a little boost from behind, you hoisted yourself up into the plane and found a bucket seat. Never had trouble finding a seat by a window in those days. We sat by squad with "Sgt. Red Peters being number two man behind "Fearless" Fosdick, who was number one. Behind Peters sat Tyminski, then Westbrook, myself, Brehm, Bailey, Fairley and Porteous, who was the gunner this time around. We were an A-4 LMG Squad, (1919A4 light machine gun, Browning H.B. cal. 30, ground) and a good one having been together over a year, including heavy combat on Leyte. We were very close friends. Bear in mind, there were three other squads on the plane with us. Our machine guns were in pods beneath the plane. They would drop simultaneous, when the green jump light was turned on.   
  It was dark inside the plane. I just sat down and really wondered and worried what was in store. I was sweating and also having a chill. My shoulders were hurting, from the tight straps, where the main harness passes over them and I was very thirsty. I didn't swig any water; too difficult to get at my canteen with all the equipment hung one me, plus the parachutes.  After about a half-hour or so, I was startled into reality from my almost blank day dreaming, by the high pitched whine of the inertia starter, winding up the engine just outside my window. The engine exploded into a noisy staccato of misfiring cylinders. Soon the pilot got the proper mixtures and those old engines smoothed out beautifully. Just a humming! Blue flames begin flickering out from the engine exhaust.  
  It grew very noisy inside the plane as the pilot gunned the engines to maneuver the plane from its position on the taxi ramp down to the end of the field. He really had to gun it, to swing in around into the wind to await his order to take off. As we bumpily taxied on the strip, several of the Air Corps people held "thumbs up" to us. We weakly acknowledged with weak smiles. The plane started its roll. Those C-47's really wound up when taking off fully loaded. It took about twenty to thirty seconds, down the runaway, before you could feel her clutch at the air. The ground, barely visible, dropped away fast. We were over the ocean almost instantly. It was very hard to determine our altitude, with it being just dawn and over water, but I judged 1200 to 1500 feet, no more. The planes formed up in a "V" of "V's. It was daylight soon. You could glance out 150 feet or so and see the other planes in formation during the trip. The flight was short, very short, maybe 45 minutes to one hour. We were now over the southern tip of Luzon and time had now run out for us. The fancy boots and wings toted on furloughs and weekend passes didn't   
  mean much now. Was it all worth it? Someone has to do it. The planes were now closing formation; wing tips were not more then twenty-five yards apart, dipping up and down. The Air Corps crew chief, who had been up in the cockpit, casually walked back to the open door, staggering, no, more like sea legs, as he went. When he got past the open door, he turned around and took his position in the tail section, where he could pull the static lines in after we jumped.  
  Positioned next to the door, on a C-47 about shoulder high, are two small lights, one green and one red. These lights are on the right side, if one is facing the tail of the aircraft. All eyes were on the red light that just went on. The red light is turned on by the pilot when the plane begins to approach the drop zone. Lt. Alsbury, who had gone to the cockpit, came hustling down the aisle to the open door, then spun around and as he did, screamed out, "Stand up and hook up." Blood is really racing through your veins and without even knowing what you're doing, you're up and hooking your static line hook on to the steel anchor cable. Dub Westbrook is ahead of me, so I check his chute and equipment. He's okay. I can feel Ray Brehm jerking on my equipment to make sure everything is okay. The red light is still on. I'm full of anxiety and really raring to get out that door. A split second before the green light went on I signaled "GO." Dub halfway turned around and said, "Well Harpo, this is another fine mess you've gotten us into." Before I could laugh, the green light went "On." We all started yelling, "Let's go," and shuffled towards the door with our left hand pushing the hook of our static lines as we went. It couldn't have been   
  more than three, maybe four seconds and I made a turn to the right and took that long step out of the door. I glanced from my falling position, it looked green, white and blue. The C-47's were going away fast. I felt that wonderful opening shock of my chute. It's like a whack in the back, and a heck of a jolt when you come to the end of the suspension lines and harness. My shoulder muscles hurt. I was swinging a little and the ground was coming up very fast. We certainly jumped at less than a thousand feet. I saw Brehm and Porteous oscillating a little, their knees bent slightly getting ready to land. I was swinging as the ground was coming at me. I hit the ground hard and rolled up into a ball. It was easy getting out of the chute. No shooting. Troopers were running everywhere, seemed like in all directions. Ray Brehm came running up to tell me he saw me land. Porteous, Westbrook, Brehm, Bailey, Sennart, and Sgt. Peters, and myself made up our LMG Squad.  
  The ground was smooth with some six to twelve inches of underbrush. There was a tree line to the north. Some of the guys were in the trees along with a few cargo chutes. There were a half dozen jump injuries. Our LMG had been attached to a red chute, but we could not see it. We all spread out looking for the damn thing. Bill Fairly finally found it and yelled at us to get over by it. We all ran over to the red cargo chute. Porteous grabbed the tripod. I took the receiver mechanism, that also had the elevating gadget attached. Brehm, Sennart, Peters and Westbrook each took two boxes of ammo belts. We had close to two thousand rounds of ammo. We hustled toward the assembly point, a road near the Manila Annex Hotel (resort). By this time, we all were wringing wet, from running with our loads of equipment and ammo. We were really sucking wind. I could see the whole battalion strung along the road in route formation. After about two hours, a whole slew of trucks came huffing up the road from a beach landing at Nasugbu. The 188th and 187th Glider Infantry Regiments broke through and came up to clear the road. The trucks and jeeps formed on the road and word came down to enter them. Once aboard, off we   
  went barreling down Route 17 towards Manila, which was about thirty to thirty-five miles to the north. We traveled about twenty of those miles before the scouts ran into Japanese resistance just south of Imus. Imus is a small town just about four to five miles east of the big U.S. prewar Naval Base at Cavite. We then got off the trucks and started on by foot. As we moved on, hundreds of Filipinos surrounded us with cheers and tears screaming "Mabubay." They gave us water, bananas, papayas and mangoes. The sheer joy on their faces is still hard to forget.  
  At one crossroad, there was a four-piece Filipino band struggling with the "Star Spangled Banner." We spread out. E-511th PIR was on our left and D-511th PIR on our right, which put HQ2-511th PIR right smack dab in the middle of the entire 511th PIR advance. We moved down the road, out of the highlands into flat terrain with lots of trees and some buildings. Imus itself is about three hundreds yards off Highway 17. A narrow black top road ran from the highway into the village, past a church and then through the town square, then back to the highway. About half way down this road lay a couple dead troopers from E-511th. Porteous and I set our LMG on a small stone wall and brought fire on a stone church down the road. T/Sgt. Steele of E-511th had gotten up on the roof of the church and chopped a hole in it and poured gasoline (5-gallon jeep auxiliary) down the hole and dropped in a white phosphorus grenade. Between twenty to thirty Japanese came scampering out the doors, from our position we cut them to pieces. About eight or nine of them managed to get into a 1939 Dodge, US Army truck, and headed out of town on the little black top road. They got halfway there, when they ran into D-511th's LMG, set up exactly for this   
  contingency. All the fleeing Japanese were killed. It was getting dark as we pushed up Route 17 towards Manila. There is a narrow neck of land between manila Bay and Laguna De Bay, about two miles wide. This entire isthmus contains one little suburb after another. We went through a small town called Zapote. In the church yard there were five or six dead Makapilis hanging by their necks. A Makapili is a Filipino civilian, who collaborated with the Japanese during the occupation. Very quick justice by the locals! The Filipinos, by nature, are quite violent when armed.  
  When we arrived at Las Pinas, the Japanese started shelling us at the intersection. We later found out (after we captured them) that they were using six inch naval guns, on ground mounts located on the Manila Polo Club field. We were stopped cold. There was a small river between Las Pinas and Paranaque, that had a concrete bridge (about 25 yards long) spanning it. As we approached it, the Japanese attempted to blow it up. It was badly damaged in the middle and could not be traversed by any vehicle, but was accessible for walking across. We were all tired, wet and scared silly from the artillery bombardment. Colonel Irvin R. Schimmelpfenning, the 11th Airborne Chief of Staff, had his jeep driver pull up on the bridge and was instantly killed by Japanese machine gun fire. His jeep driver did get away. That night we stayed in Las Pinas. At this point we could not have been more then three-quarters of a mile from the outer limits of Manila. Of course, we had no idea how close to Manila that we were. There appeared a reddish haze to our front; it was the burning of Manila. Later on, it was learned that the main force of Japanese troops under General Yamashita had withdrawn into the mountains, he considered   
  Manila itself, not of any strategic value. But the Japanese Navy with about 30,000 ground troops decided to fight for Manila.  
  This cost the Filipinos over 100,000 civilian deaths, with atrocities of the worst kind. For these enormities, Gen. Yamashita was later hanged. In defending Manila, the Japanese blew it to pieces. Huge buildings, some as big as any County Court House in the U.S. (one square block and ten stories high) were just rubble. Getting back to Las Pinas; Porteous, Westbrook and myself and few other troopers, piled sheets of asphalt on ourselves, in hopes of deflecting shrapnel from incoming artillery. As said before, nobody got hit. All night long, we laid on this side of the bridge. There were many building bordering the road; houses, businesses, a huge stone church (built back in the 1600's by the Spanish) and various types of construction. No one said much, so we did get some cat naps. Every time someone would move, you could hear a dozens safety's click "off" around you. I remember "Red" Peters, our Squad Leader, being with us, but our platoon Sgt. and Platoon Leader were somewhat behind us.   
  PARANQUE, Southern Suburb of MANILA  
    We crossed the bridge, what was left of it, early on February 5, 1945. The Colonel's jeep was still there, E-511th was on our left. We ran into lots of obstacles stretched across the road. There was also barbed wire on them and they were mined. E-511th was in all kinds of trouble from 20mm flat trajectory dual guns covering the area between the road and shoreline. The fire coming in, could almost not be coped with. . When we hit the Japanese Genko Line, we were pinned down, someone then called in A-20 Attack Bombers for support. We used our mortars to drop smoke to mark the outline target areas. The A-20's came in from our right, down near deck, at over 300 mph and dropped strings of para-frags (little 100 pound bombs, with parachutes, which drifted to earth allowing the planes to get away from the explosions). The only problem, they dropped them on the south side of the smoke signal, where we were, instead of to the north side where the Japanese were. I watched it all from underneath an Allis-Chalmers crawler tractor, set up as road block by the Japanese. The para-frags hit about 50 to 75 years to our front. Lots   
  of racket, but little damage to the Japanese, other than maybe scaring the hell out of them. In the meantime, perhaps ten or fifteen minutes after the A-20's had finished, we were attached to the right flank of E-511th which was to attack across a field (old Polo Field) towards the Japanese Genko Line of Defense. The grass in this field had turned to weeds and was about eighteen inches high. On the south end of this field was a blacktop road, which was about twenty feet wide and ran from the beach area to the road we were on, which was Route 17. On the south side of this road was a six foot high wall which also ran from the beach to Route 17.  We started across the field at about ten in the morning on Feb. 5, 1945. We approached the field through a man-sized hole, that had been blown through the wall just south of the road. I remember that the sun was shining.   Porteous had the tripod and I carried the receiver. Sgt. Peters was out in front and the rest of the LMG Squad were fanned out to the right and left. As we moved up, for about one or two minutes, there was no firing, nothing, then that twin 20mm opened up to our left front, from the beach. We hit the dirt. I dragged the receiver over to where Porteous was laying.   
  Porteous set the receiver into the tripod and Westbrook passed a box (250 rounds) of ammo to Porteous. Sgt. Peters said not to fire. We had no cover, only concealment, which means we couldn't be seen but would draw fire if would begin to shoot. We laid there over an hour as the sun beat down. Sgt. Peters crawled towards where E-511th, but they were gone. The 20mm twin gun had caused them to withdraw behind the wall on the other side of the road. We had no idea if the Japanese had seen us. Realizing we had been accidentally abandoned by E-511th, Sgt. Peters decided that we should withdraw back to the other side of the wall also. We could crawl back without the Japanese seeing us, but the hole in the wall was another fifty feet without any cover or concealment. The small size of the hole in the wall dictated that only one man at a time could make a run for it. The first trooper, we figured would have a snap. The second one 75-25 to make it, the third 50-50, etc., down to the last trooper. I think Bailey took off first, then Westbrook, Brehm, me with the receiver, followed by Porteous and then the "Red Head." We did not get shot at, but then Japanese started dropping mortar rounds in the area that we had just vacated. We   
  all sat against the wall sucking wind and cussing out E-511th. Unknown to us, Sgt. Wilson, an E-511th Platoon Sgt., took a 20mm direct hit in a stairwell leading to the beach. We returned to the  HQ2-511th area, on the main road into Manila. The E-511th runner, John Mahoney, also got hit that day and lost a leg. That could have had some effect, on the loss of E-511th communications with us.  
  By this time it was getting late in the afternoon, so we dug in for the night. Our squad set the LMG to fire north up the road toward Manila. We all dug half-assed slit trenches on the shoulder of the road and adjacent areas.  There were lots of houses on our right and that six-foot wall across the road to our left. About twenty feet to our right front, stood a six to eight foot lilac bush, it had no flowers, but was full of leaves. Subconsciously, I assumed that when it became dark, the Japanese would pour out from behind it. After dark, we slept an hour, watched an hour etc., always working the "Buddy" system within the closet foxhole or slit trench. Our musette bags served as pillows. Three or four grenades were put at arms length for quick use. At night no one wanted to be around Bailey, a big kid from Waco, Texas, because he had a very bad habit of waking up startled, and exclaiming very loudly "Whoszat" or Whatszat." He drove us crazy while we were on Leyte.  
  THE DAY... February 6, 1945  
  Along about 1:00 AM, all hell broke loose. Hand grenades and rifle shots and lots of hollering. Porteous opened up with the LMG and I tossed all of my grenades across the road near the wall and on the road. My grenades were not the only ones landing on the road, there were also "China Rolls." A "China Roll" is a nonstandard Japanese hand grenade. That grenade has no serration's, just a piece of two inch diameter pipe welded shut on one end and with a 22 caliber cartridge affixed to a fuse on the other end. It was activated by slamming the cartridge end onto a hard surface, such as a steel helmet or cement. Instead of throwing the grenade, it was rolled down the street. Rumor was that these were developed for city fighting in China. To me, it was just a cheap and fast way to make an effective hand grenade without a costly casting. At any rate, these things were rolling down the concrete and bouncing all over the place. There was all kinds of shooting and people, barley visible, were running in every direction. Then, just as quickly as it started, all was quiet. I was wringing wet. I could hear Porteous moving  
  around but no one was talking or even whispering. Everyone was "Safety off and finger on the trigger." My heart was beating like mad and my eyes felt like saucers. The rest of the night was completely quiet.  
  Sgt. Peters crawled around and checked everyone. Byers and Fairley were hurt, but to what extent we didn't know. When dawn finally came, the nightmare unfolded. There were three dead Japanese Naval Officers laying sprawled on the highway. Jack Hauser lay face down in the lilac bush. Roy Byers had his right arm almost severed at the shoulder from a sword slash.  The Japanese slasher laid near by with out his middle, M-1 rifle shots at five feet away create a big hole going in and a bigger one going out.  
  Fairley lived, it was lucky that he awoke to see an enemy soldier standing over him, with his sword over his shoulder. He smashed his helmet into the guys face and someone else blew his head off; I mean literally, it was only half there. Hauser must have been out of his hole for some reason when it all started. We laid him by the road and covered him with a poncho. Byers was in a state of semi-shock. He had a cut on his shoulder that was about ten inches long and nearly two inches wide in the middle. Farley was sent home that day. Haven't seen him since, the last I heard, he was trying to get VA help for his wounds. I wrote an affidavit for him regarding his injures, but never heard back from him. It was not the smartest thing to move around much in that area, because there were mines planted everywhere. The sappers had worked the area and dug up the "yardsticks" with their hands. They were conical in shape and thirty six inches long and filled with picric acid. If you stepped on one, the shell would crack and detonate. There generally was about two pounds of picric acid in each "stick", enough to take a leg off.  
  One M18 tank destroyer came picking its way down the road. It did not come in a straight path, because of the markers staked out by the zappers. Guetzko and I were sitting next to our LMG, on the shoulder of the road, as the tank clanked by. I would guess it weighed about thirty tons. When the tank entered an intersection, about a half block from our LMG Squad, a 20mm opened up on it. Instead of returning fire with its heavy .50 Cal. or 76mm weapons, the driver kicked the tank in reverse at high speed and did not observe the stakes. The tank had not moved more then forty feet, when the sky turned black and the ensuing concussion drove into my eyes, ears and nose. My mouth sagged open. In blackness I saw the tank upside down as high as the telephone wires, then dead silence for about a second, before the debris started to fall. Pieces of the tank, asphalt and dirt landed all around us. When the dust cleared, there it was all thirty tons, lying on its back. J.P. Hill, our communications Sgt., came staggering down the road bleeding from wounds to his face. One of the tank crew, possibly its commander, was earlier positioned in   
  the turret. When the tank hit the road (upside down) it severed him in half at the belt line. The rest of the tank crew all died instantly from the concussion. There was a crater in the middle of the road that was about twenty feet deep and at least thirty feet in diameter. The road mine was either a two-pound aerial bomb rigged up with a pressure detonator or a naval depth charge armed the same way. The mine must have been there for some period, because earlier the black top road showed no signs of tampering. The detonator probably was set to a specific weight, compatible with armor used by our forces. This would enable regular foot, car and truck traffic to pass over the explosive charge without setting it off. The sappers had earlier located it and had it staked out, but the tank commander must have forgotten when he quickly ordered his M18 into reverse. Resulting in a senseless loss of five men and one important tank destroyer.  
  Our only casualties, after the tank blew up, were A.P. Hill and Art Ousterhoudt, both had taken shrapnel in addition to the concussion. Art was bleeding, and staggering around and his fatigues were open above his waist. There was blood on his chest, but his tattoo's "sweet" and "sour", below each nipple, were still visible. He did not advance, with us on the Genko Line for a couple of days. After the war ended, Art stayed in the service and made it a career.  
  THE GENKO LINE, South of Manila  
  The morning after the tank blew up, Porteous, Geutzko, Westbrook and myself were asked to get a stretcher and pick up E-511th's 1st Sgt. Edgar L. Wilson's body. We hoofed it across the road towards the beach, we knew exactly where he was, because E-511th had been flanked by us the day before when they withdrew and left our squad in the Polo Field. The sun was up and it was hot and muggy. When we arrived over by the beach area, we came upon a large ornamental concrete and tile patio. By the side of the patio, there was an ornamental tile and concrete walk which looked down on the beach. The homes in this area were huge, sumptuous homes of the affluent of Manila. At the north end of the patio, there was a stairwell which went down six or seven steps, took a turn left and then went down another three or four steps to the beach. In the past, this route provided access for swimming and sunning on the beach. Wilson's body was laying face down on the landing. We had a difficult time getting the litter under his body, because it had swollen to twice its normal size and his uniform acted as a rigid envelope. His skin had already turned black, from the sun, and his helmet strap had cut through his chin and  
  cheeks. As we wrestled his body on the litter, the skin broke and gas and fluids flowed out. Someone threw up and that made the other three of us to do the same. We picked up the litter, with Westbrook and Porteous leading the way, followed by Guetzko and myself. As we moved up the stairwell, body fluids ran down the litter on Guetzko and myself. The reality of war cannot be even imagined by anyone who has not been there. You see none of this in the movies, only from a poor sucker infantryman can you learn what it is like, and the infantryman will very seldom talk about it.  
  As we carried Wilson's body back to the road, curious Filipinos looked at us in awe. One of them said "Weelsohn", that's how they pronounced "Wilson." Evidently, they had earlier checked his dog tags. His wedding ring was still in place, but there was no watch or wallet. Speaking of the wedding ring, his finger had swollen to twice its normal size and the skin was cut. We made no attempt to remove it, we left that to the Grave Registration troops. I believe Wilson's body is still in the American Cemetery in Manila, they did not ship bodies back in those days. I understand, after the war, some were buried in the Punch Bowl on the island of Oahu.  
  We observed that the Japanese pulled back several hundred yards, to keep close contact and keep the pressure on them, we moved up. We arrived at the city limits of Paranaque in an hour or so. During our advance, we passed through road blocks of railroad tracks, placed vertically in concrete, lots of barbed wire and other hasty defenses. The Genko Line was a series of concrete pillboxes that extended to the Manila Polo Club. It stretched across Nichols Field and anchored at Mabato Point. The pillboxes that were still occupied, were burned out with white phosphorus grenades, thrown into the air vents or back tunnels that led into them. The pillbox interiors had low wooden platforms, that provided a bed for the occupants to sleep on and it could also be used as a desk or table. We found their heavy machine guns (French Hochkiss air cooled) usually emplaced with the muzzle just a gnat's hair above the firing slit. After the phosphorous and anti-personnel grenades were tossed into the pillboxes, we would check for survivors and swords. I never did see any survivors. Their bodies were generally in grotesque   
  positions and still smoldering. Swords, watches, flags and other booty were not as prevalent as one may have been led to believe. Swords were privately owned, mainly by officers. Most of the Japense enlisted men, just owned their clothes and a few personal items, such as snapshots and a little money. Later on that day, we dug in for the night. I dug in to the side of a little road about fifteen yards in front of a wooded area. The fox hole was easy to dig, because the soil consisted mostly of broken sea shells and fill. Stupidly, I put some tar paper, that I tore off a building on the floor of my foxhole. During daylight, when there were people talking and with the general noisiness of our troops there was no problem, but during the night, every time I moved or shifted against the sides, a bunch of sea shells would drop and rattle on the tar paper. When this would happen, I'd hear every rifle safety, within twenty yards, click "OFF." We had put out several trip wire booby traps near our boundary. If anyone walked into the wire, it would pull the pin from a grenade and there would be a nice burst about three feet off the ground.   
  We would place the grenades overlapping, so as to prevent anyone from getting through. The overlying of the trip wires, prevented the Japanese from going under or around them, after they felt a wire. This was very effective, but a nightmare to pick up the next morning. We had been told that some of our troops, would inadvertently trip their own grenades during the removal of the wires, but I never saw it happen. To the right of my foxhole there was a Nipa hut. This hut was built upon six foot piles, stabilized by timbers at a 45 degree angle. At about 2:00 AM, my imagination talked me into believing that there were Japanese just in front of my hole, by our boundary. To clear the vicinity, I felt that I should toss a grenade in the area and kill any Japanese present. I pulled the pin and lofted a grenade out front. The darn thing hit one of those timbers, supporting the Japanese hut, and bounced back to about two feet in front of my hole. A few seconds later it went off with an explosion, and to my ears, it was louder and more metallic then when the tank blew up. The next morning the boys passed by, out of curiosity, to find out    
  what had happened by me. They figured I had "bought the farm," because I didn't answer any of those "Hey Mark" calls all night long. I didn't answer because, I could not hear anything after the grenade blew, nor could I for several hours into the next day.  
  Later that morning, Lt. Alsury sent Porteous, Scheffel and myself out on the shoulder of the road, to fire the LMG down it, and harass the Japanese. We had moved up about a hundred yards and found ourselves on the outside of a ten foot high corrugated tin fence. Porteous opened fire into a tree, down the road a bit, and blew a Japanese from it. I spotted another on top of a water tower. The LMG can be very effective up to one mile, and after a few bursts at the tower, this Japanese "busts ass" to get off via the ladder on the far side. We laughed and were kinda proud of ourselves. A few minutes later, we heard an enemy mortar pop, followed with a skittering sound made by mortar shells in flight. We chuckled as the round hit fifty yards or so behind us. The mortar popped again, we didn't hear any skittering this time. The shell hit about fifty yards in front of us. Simultaneously Porteous and myself realized they had us bracketed. Before the next round even popped, we hightailed it to the nearest available holes, about twenty yards away. I hollered for everyone to hit the deck. About the time we hit the dirt, three mortar rounds exploded at the exact position we had just vacated, but to late. We were quick,   
  instead of dead. Later we went back and retrieved the LMG.  
  Amongst us we had a couple replacements by the names of Scheffel and Sennert. Stennart thought he was a one man army. He would not listen to anyone. He also kept his fanny down and was always well to the rear. On the other hand, Scheffel paid attention, came along well, did what he was told and in general proved to be a very good infantryman. Sennart was something else. When we were pushing towards Ft. McKinley, Sennart was "seeing and shooting" a Japanese in every tree, doorway and bunker. He would unload a couple clips from his M-1 rifle into obviously dead Japanese. An infantryman is issued one unit of fire each day, which is 120 rounds. When Sennart ran into life targets, he didn't have any ammunition left. There was no way that anyone would give him a round. We told the asshole, "Club'em to death." Finally we all chipped in with a couple of clips of ammo each, and told him, "No shooting until you see the whites of their eyes." He never learned. (Our C.O. shipped him out after Nichols Field had been secured.)  
  As we pushed through the woods, we saw perhaps two or three hundred dead Japanese in the various holes and bunkers. Pfc. Manual Perez, from A-511th killed about thirty himself when he charged several pillboxes. He lived through it, but was killed a couple of days later at Nichols field. For his courage and action, he was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the second member of the 511th PIR, so honored, in the entire 11th Airborne Division.  
  Nothing more happened that day, aside from picking up about a quarter mile of territory from the enemy. That evening we dug in the court yard, of the 0Paraaque Tile Works, a two story white block building with a red tile roof. The lot was about ten feet higher than the adjacent lot to our rear. It was bordered by a stone wall, which was two feet high on the tile works side, but dropped eight or nine feet on the back side. The night was uneventful. The next morning we moved into the court yard, where we saw a little out building made of stone and that had a small cook stove it. It was a summer kitchen. We had moved in so fast that the enemy had no time to take a chicken, he was stewing, with him. No, we did not eat it. The whole set up was booby trapped, with knee mortar grenades, including an old Singer treadle type sewing machine. A "knee mortar" is a small mortar that can fire a grenade about a hundred yards. They were called "knee mortars" because its monoped spade was curved and looked like one could rest it on his knee when firing it. A few tried to use it that way and broke their knee (legs). Westbrook and myself, sat down next to the tile works, leaning against the wall while we ate our K-rations. He was putting away his favorite K-ration meal, which was cheese, and I was chowing down some chopped pork with an egg yolk added. There was a lull and we were enjoying it. All of sudden, there was an explosion on the roof of the building, we never heard the report of a big Japanese gun go off, or the projectile coming in before it exploded. We instantly ran towards the two-foot wall and dove over it, and proceeded into a small bomb shelter that the Filipinos had dug to protect themselves from the American air raids on Manila. No more shells landed within the next five minutes, so we limbed out. We were covered with feces. Unknowing to us, other troops had been using this dug out bomb shelter as a latrine. We scraped off what we could see and later that day we changed into different fatigues so we could rinse the soiled ones. We slowly slunk back up over the wall, to where we had been eating and finished breakfast. Later we pushed off towards Pasay, a suburb of Manila. This was a total ramshackle squalor, of houses and shops flush with the sidewalks.  
  When we reached the outskirts of Nichols Field, we saw many dead Japanese laying around. We also noted dozens of 0"Baka" planes sitting around. A "Baka" is a small suicide plane with a twin tail. Its fuselage was about twenty to twenty five feet long and had a wing span of about 30 feet. The fuselage, in front of the cockpit, contained the explosive section. To place these planes into service, the Japanese affixed them to the bottom of Mitsubishi "Betty" and "Nell" bombers. The bombers would release its "Baka" (means foolish in Japanese) at about 10,000 feet in elevation and up to several miles from the target. The "Baka" pilot would kick in his rocket and head for his designated target at around 400-450 mph. They hit and sank many American ships in the Leyte Gulf, many more then the U.S. public was aware of. We stayed away from the "Bakas", because many of them were booby trapped as were some of the aerial torpedo's that were lying around. On one occasion, a dead Japanese was turned over to be searched, by a couple of troopers from D-511th. It was discovered to late, his foot or arm was trip wired to a twenty foot torpedo, which exploded and took out a couple troopers. From that point   
  forward, we became very cautious, that is, so we could live to see another day. Most souvenirs were generally picked up long after the actual fighting, because of the booby traps. Another reason was, there was no way to carry any extra items. Most of the fancy swords, pistols, field glasses, etc., were all sopped up by the rear echelon service troops or purchased from the Filipino scavengers.  
  At about 3:00 PM we dug foxholes in a back yard of some buildings and created a small defense perimeter. During the night, at about 10 - 11 PM, a couple of M-1 rifle shots rang out. That was all, the rest of the night was quit, it was super quiet. When daylight began to break, we observed trooper, GI John Doe's body about five or six yards to the front of our perimeter. (I cannot risk this trooper's real name, even after over fifty years.) "Rocky" Schuster, a squad leader of the other LMG section, was dangerously wild with anger. It was easy to pin point the person, who must have woke up, or was half asleep, and saw a figure in front of him and opened up. GI John Doe was dead, and his family never knew how he was killed. The shooter was removed from our unit by Regimental Headquarters and placed into another army division; without prejudice and nothing on his record. The trooper that did the firing, if still alive, is probably still living with it. The next few hours were spent in disbelief, regarding GI John Doe, who had come all the way from Camp Toccoa, Camp Mckall, Fort Benning, Camp Polk, Camp Stoneman, New Guinea, Leyte, Mindoro, Tagaytay Ridge and almost to the end of Luzon, only   
  to die because of some jackass, who panicked and shot before he looked or challenged. The next day we pushed down the entire length of one of the runways at Nichols Field. During the crossing of one very large stretch of flat airport real estate, our HQ2-511th unit, took a number of hits from Japanese artillery. The Japanese would drop in a yellow smoke round for reference, and then follow up with two or three round salvos at random intervals. I was having problems walking and carrying the LMG receiver, every bone in my body felt like it was ready to break. Each step I took, my belly felt like someone had belted me in the mid-section. Anyway, when the next yellow smoke round came in, I ran for a shell crater and dove in to it.  There sat Lt. "Fearless" Fosdick and a couple of other troopers, safeguarded from the incoming artillery. "Fearless" told me to get out of the crater, as there were to many in it. I laid my carbine over my knees, with the muzzle pointed right at his belly and just looked at him. I didn't say a word, I just put my hand on the carbine and said "There's artillery out there Sir." That was the end of it. We were all "Peed-off" from the night before, the constant small arms fire and the big   
  incoming stuff didn't help. We could see the Japanese ahead of us, perhaps three or four hundred yards. We observed them moving about in the hangers, behind vehicles and out in the open. We opened up on them with the LMG and that really scattered them. It was at this point in time that Sennart ran out of ammo, as I had earlier recounted. There were many bunkers and Japanese gun emplacements around and inside of the Nicholas Field perimeter. There were also a number of dual 20mm "Ack-Ack" guns, that had been emplaced in such a way that they could be used as flat trajectory weapons. The heavy artillery, that they used to fired on us, was probably positioned in the area of Ft. McKinley, which was a good three miles in distance. As we moved on the hanger areas, we noted may wrecked Japanese planes laying around, with some of then scavenged for spare parts. When we moved into the rear of the Japanese perimeter, we found their bunkers full of equipment and all kinds of material. Some of the bunkers had been used as living quarters, with most of them littered with Japanese sailor personal items. There were watches, cameras, pictures, civilian clothes, letters and officer dress uniforms.   
  Here again, there was no time or room for souvenirs. We found one bunker full of booze, which included several cases of Scotch. To satisfy our thrust, a lot of it was guzzled that day, it also provided a nice hangover the next day.  
  The following day we did a two-mile route march to Ft. McKinley. At this point, the Battle of Manila ended for me, I couldn't walk anymore. My bones and joints ached unbearably. Sgt. Peters sent me back to see Capt. Platt, a 511-Medic. He took one look at me and started raving. My eyeballs were yellow, as was my skin, but everybody's skin was yellow from the Atabrine pills that we took daily to suppress malaria. My urine was the color of Coca Cola and the stools like white putty. Platt put a tag on me; hepatitis and dengue. I walked back to the Attached, 221st Medical Company and was put in an ambulance and taken to a hospital in Nasugbu, some forty miles south of Manila. Each time the ambulance went over the slightest bump, it felt like someone had belted me in the belly. That stay in the hospital, ended my personal contribution to the Manila Liberation, during February 1945.  
  About the Author:  He was born, raised and educated in St. Paul, MN.  He enlisted in the army at Fort Snelling, MN.  After WWII he settled in Milwaukee, WI, after he retired he moved to Columbus, GA.  Deane passed away on March 27, 2000.  
  Courtesy of “WINDS ALOFT” Quarterly publication of the 511th PIR Association