- 2-

 

"I" Company later again became pinned down by a MG firing from the icehouse in the north dock area. Again the tank was called on; it only took a couple rounds to silence the MG and set the icehouse on fire.

Frank Centanni,1 CO of "K" Co, which was at the top of Malinta Hill, radioed BN Hdq and reported that the landing beach looked much like a movie war zone. Vehicles were blown up by land mines and casualties were all over the place. All very quiet at that time on top of Malinta in "K" & "L" Coís areas.

The first night a Jap slipped into Service Co. area and set off a charge, destroying himself and a water treatment plant brought in to convert sea water to drinking water. A second Jap crawled under a truck loaded with demolitions. Fortunately, he blew himself up under the front of the truck and only blew off the truckís left front wheel.

The second day, 17 Feb, "I" Co found that the area they had cleared the day before had been reoccupied by the Japs, who were hiding in shell holes created by our 500 lb bombs that had left a good sized hole in the coral rock.

Lt. Coleman and the first Platoon, along with Sgt. Ortez and his MG squad moved from shell hole to shell hole, and by first tossing in a smoke grenade then followed by a couple of hand grenades then assaulting the position. They killed over 40 of the enemy, and captured two MG, one knee mortar and numerous individual weapons.

Meanwhile Sgt. Personni, whoís platoon was securing the road around the north side of Malinta Hill, spotted a cave with a large camouflage net hanging over the opening. John Goodin, "I" Coís flame thrower operator, was called and directed to burn away the net, which revealed a large cave with an 8 in. coastal gun covering the north channel entrance to Manila Bay.

GOAL POST RIDGE

On top of Malinta Hill, "K" Co had two lower areas to their left flank. The lower one was known as goal post ridge, since it had a couple of iron pipes sticking up that looked similar to a goal post used in football.

Dan Valles, Jim Sullivan and three other men from Danís Plt were sent down to secure goal post ridge. About midnight the Japs attacked with force. After they had used up all ammo and thrown all grenades, Dan and Jim were able to slip over the side of the hill and work their way around and, at daybreak, back up to the Company at the top of Malinta Hill.

Next morning Cpt. Centanni, with his messenger Corp Mureau,2 went down to reconnoitre the area, not realizing there were still some enemy in that area. Both the Captain and his aide were killed.

"K" Companyís EX officer had been killed in the attack the night before, leaving only a Lt. Fugetti.  "K" Co had taken heavy casualties.

"I" Company was ordered to move to the top of Malinta Hill and replace "K" Company. Since it was dark by the time it got in place, it did not attempt to occupy goal post hill. The enemy attacked again that night at about midnight until 3 a.m.

We found the primary weapon of defense was the hand grenade. Harry Veick from Oak Park, MI said if you spotted one of the enemy crawling up the hill you just pulled the pin out of a grenade, let the handle fly off so he would not have time to toss the grenade back, then toss it to the enemy. If he were on the steep side of the hill he usually rolled back down and sometimes took another Jap with him.

One night I looked for my radio operator Sam Sniderman and found out he was out gathering grenades for the men on the perimeter.

Next morning I requested some sort of illumination during these night attacks. The Navy had a shell they fired into the air where it would light up a large area for about 45 seconds. They continued to fire them every 2 to 3 minutes during an enemy attack. They were a great help.

Next day "K" Company sent up a detail to pick up casualties on goalpost hill and take them down off the hill. "I" Company Commander went down with them to reconnoitre the area. Casualties were recovered. There was no sign of enemy.

Two hours later Sgt. Owen3 with the 2nd Platoon was sent down to occupy goalpost hill. He found the enemy had moved back in, or had been asleep that morning as a tough firefight developed with Sgt Owen and one other man killed, and one wounded. As dark came on 2nd Platoon now under Sgt. Shorr was moved back up into Company perimeter for the night.

Next morning Sgt. Shorr had his 2nd Plt reinforced with a section of Sgt. Ortezís Lt. MG. Following a 81mm mortar barrage, they moved onto goalpost hill with no enemy opposition. But, the enemy continued to hit them every night.

One morning we started to receive sniper fire from Infantry Point, a brush covered hill some 150 yds to the northeast of our position. One of Company "I"ís men was wounded. We tried 81mm mortar fire which seemed to have little effect.

We next contacted our air liaison officer requesting a napalm drop to burn off the brush. Less than 5 minutes later he called me back advising that planes were already being loaded and that they would be over our target in 15 minutes. Since he was down at Bn. Hdq, he asked me to help direct the planes in. So, by keeping the line open between us and he in touch with the planes, we directed the strike, which was 100 percent successful. We also saw one of the enemy come running out of the brush and was immediately cut down by rifle fire from Malinta Hill.

Joseph Baron from Chicago, IL, a medic with a 4-man litter squad was evacuating a seriously wounded man down off Malinta Hill when the enemy opened up spraying them with heavy caliber MG fire killing one of the litter bearers. The wounded man was dropped off litter and rolled down the hill for some distance.

Naval vessels setting offshore fired and quieted the Jap MG so the medics could pick up the wounded man and continue on to aid station.

A MG had been spraying the landing area when any gathering had developed. Lt. Bernie an officer on patrol located it in a brush covered cave on the side of a cliff. Bernie then went out to the cruiser located just offshore and helped them spot the entrance to the cave where this gun was located and the Naval guns quickly shut down that heavy MG.

Bill McKenna and Joe Froelich (who represented Austria as a downhill skier in the 1932 Olympics) of "A" Company settled down for the night in a shell hole.

We were advised by a couple of Naval Officers who had spent time on Corregidor back when it belonged to the U.S., that if the Japs ever blew the ammunition in the tunnels the blast would create a channel across the island. The tunnels held some 35,000 artillery shells, 10,000 powder charges, 2,000 lbs TNT, 80,000 mortar shells along with hand grenades and land mines.

Sgt. Bill Hartman, Plt. Sgt Cannon Co 34th Inf, with driver Mike Nolan stripped down a M7 self-propelled mount (105MM & 50 Cal MG) and took a load of medical supplies up to the 503rd Paratroopers up topside. They had to go up a road which had not yet been cleared of the enemy, and received heavy MG fire at one point.

On return trip they carried wounded men. Hartman and Nolan made a second trip this time pulling a water tank along with medical supplies, again MG fire, however not as heavy and again brought down casualties.

On the 7th night the Japs blew the tunnel. Malinta Hill bounced, fire came out of the tunnels and rose up the sides. A portion of the south end broke off burying six A Company men under rock and isolating Bill McKenna and his MG squad from the remainder of the Platoon.

A couple hours later the Navy moved a destroyer and a PT boat into the area, and shot a rope up to Billís position and rescued he and his squad one at a time. They took them out to the PT boat in a rubber boat. The remainder of the "A" Company was rescued at daylight.

Jack Miller and the 2nd Plt. "L" Company were shaken from explosion and flames, which as observed from above, appeared to cover their position. But they had no casualties.

As it got daylight the following morning, the east side of Malinta Hill was covered with the enemy. They were crawling up the hill. "L" Company spotted them first and started firing. None of the 300 or so enemy troops ever reached the top of Malinta Hill.

Jack Miller and his Platoon with two tanks attached was given the assignment to attack around the north side of Malinta Hill. He positioned one tank in front of the north tunnel entrance where it was stormed by the enemy in bunches of 10 to 20, all armed with sticks and rocks. They killed a great number of the enemy, but took no casualties of their own.

On 24 February the 503rd relieved "I" and "L" companies on the top of Malinta Hill.

On 25 February, the 3rd Bn. with attached units were picked up by LSTs and moved back to Subic Bay where they re-joined the rest of the 34th Infantry.

On 2 March Col Postlethwait, his staff and the Company Commanders with about a dozen EM returned to Corregidor for the flag raising with Gen McArthur.

The 503rd Paratrooper Regiment and the 3rd Battalion 34th Infantry were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for the job they did on retaking Corregidor.

 

Paul J. Cain

Paul J. Cain, hometown Ivesdale, IL., drafted a private 1940, commissioned 2nd Lt. Inf October 1942, joined "K" Company 34th Inf. 24th Infantry Division on Oahu Nov 1942, transferred to "I" Company 34th Inf as Commanding officer Nov. 1944. After Japan surrender August 1945 relieved and returned to States, November 1945. #

 
 
   

 

 

FOOTNOTES

1.  Frank D. CENTANNI, Capt., S/N O-01286439, of Cleveland OH. 17 Feb 1945.

2. There's no "Mureau" in the 34th ID database of KIA.  The reference appears to be to Salvatore J. Di Muro S/N 32020810. 

3. There is no "Sgt. Owen" listed with the 34th ID database of KIA, though there is an S/Sgt. Owen E. Williams. 

 


 

 

ROCK FORCE CORREGIDOR is privately supported by The Corregidor Historic Society/The 503d PRCT Heritage Battalion, and by donors like you.

Join us, and make sure we're here the next time you are.


Editorial Heritage Bn. Policy
Board Members

Copyright © 1999-2010, All Rights Reserved to the named authors, The Corregidor Historic Society & The 503d PTCT Heritage Bn. 
Last Updated: 06-07-11