|I remember that our first real objective
was what we've since called Water Tower Hill although I don't find it on any map. There
were two or three troopers who were lightly wounded or injured who were assigned to me to
help me maintain contact with A Company. It was a cute idea but it didn't work out in
practical terms. It was then that Col. Jones decided that he could get a great view of the
east from the top of the water tower itself. We had not secured any of the area beyond the
I was afraid that if Jones was shot up there that we'd come under
authority of Joe Lawry or my buddy Cates so I climbed to the top of the tower, too. Two of
my lame and lazy guys came up as well as a medic from Headquarters 1st Battalion. Jones
was standing there like a male Statue of Liberty looking through his binoculars. His staff
was staying on the ground and to the west (friendly) side of the tower, the staff shouted
up that the Navy wanted to fire at a group of 40 enemy soldiers. Jones said no, he really
hated the Navy after they drowned one of our B Company troopers when we landed to take the
radio station at Palaun the month before. (He still gets mad when
we mention that!) Meanwhile we started to hear those nasty cracks when projectiles pass
close enough to break the sound barrier.
Jones then shouted down a fire order that I never understood - first
came several minutes of destroyer and artillery fire, then several minutes of mortar fire,
then MG fire and finally we got the order to advance. Meanwhile, the medic took a round in
the arm hard enough to knock him down, but fortunately not off the top of the tower. I
started to fire at where I thought I'd seen some muzzle blasts, and also try to get Jones
to come to his senses and climb down from the tower. We got the medic down, he was in good
shape and could climb down the ladder. Then Jones followed me down - at last.
So, we took the ground up to the top of the hill by Monkey Point. As
we left the point of departure at the water tower, one of the troopers who was on the
tower with me took a round just below the right edge of his helmet from the area in front
of A Company.
I see from the map the B Company area of responsibility was
considerably wider than A Companies but I didn't realize it at the time. As we took the
that area, we had gotten some rifle fire from the shaft shown within the 150 foot contour
line so we piled some wood, rocks and other junk in front of the entrance to warn us if
any attempt was made to get out. B Company's platoon was closest to the door, which was
our right flank and the rest of B Company in a rather loose line extending north.
At dawn on the next day, things were quiet after we had sent a few
small patrols out a short distance from where they sent the night. It was getting hot and
I believe that it was around 0800. My ankle was giving me fits and I was standing
alongside a telephone pole. I had leaned my M1 against the pole and was eating from my
canteen cup a combination of dry cereal, powdered milk, sugar to which one added water. A
1st Lt. Winston Samuels, who had just joined us before Mindoro, and I were watching the M4
tank as it fired in the A Company area. Part of the Battalion Command section was gathered
on the west side of the same slope, just below me.
Samuels said: "This is the strangest modern war - no quarter is
asked or expected." He took a few steps away from me and then the earth erupted.
Everything seemed to happen at once.
Samuels was swept out of my vision by a large boulder that bounced
off the ground alongside of him. I fell against the pole with it between me and the
largest area of the explosion. I thought that I should try to get my knees separated since
one rock would smash both of them. Then somebody fell against me who was hit by a rock; I
felt the blow and heard him grunt from the impact. I don't know who it was and it never
occurred to me to find out - guess I was to focused on the current situation to remember
||Monkey Point after the explosion
that leveled the hill and part of the 1st Battalion. The square shaped image
in the back center of the photo is the overturned carcass of the Sherman tank shown above.
Flames burst out of the doorway of the shaft behind me so I knew
that there would be no danger of an attack from that area. As I slowly stood up, there
seemed to be only a few guys who also stood up. Everything and everybody was covered with
a shower of dirt and rocks. The green ponchos of the Battalion HQ were no longer green.
The tank was thrown several hundred feet. Troopers were trying to help guys more injured
then they were. Some were moaning, unable to move. Some still never to move again. I took
one look at Jim Halloran and I knew he was in that category. I held my rifle and thought
this would be a hell of a time for the Japanese to launch an attack. Things get mixed up
after that - I don't remember the 3rd Battalion arriving, I don't remember leaving the
area, anything. I do recall that for a long time after that everybody ducked if there was
any loud noise.
We were fiddling around with a wrecked tank, I don't recall if it
was "our" tank, and somebody set off the fire extinguisher which scared the hell
out of us. As I returned to the area of my flight (somehow the ankle seemed to improve for
that 10 second period) somehow I looked at the stretcher bearer. It was Samuels! He
couldn't speak and I didn't know what the hell to say so I asked him if he wanted water
and then I realized that I couldn't give it to him since he couldn't raise his head.
Well, the length of this story has gotten out of control. But I will
add that, I have some events in my life that could have happened
yesterday in my mind's eye. I have tried to recount one of them.