The Thirty Fourth Infantry
Regiment On Corregidor
by Paul J.
Cain Company Commander, I CO, 34th Inf. Regt.
February 15, 1945, the 3rd Battalion, plus A Company, Cannon Company,
and a Company of light tanks of the 34th Infantry Regiment left Olangapo
and Subic Bay on three LSTís (landing ship tank) and sailed south to
Marivales on the south tip of the Bataan Peninsula.
The 34th Infantry troops were under the Command of Lt. Col. Edward M.
Postlethwait, a graduate of West Point class of 1937. Col Postlethwait
served three years at Fort McKinley in the Philipines Islands. In 1940
he returned stateside and joined the 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry
Regiment as a Company Commander, later rising to Battalion Commander.
In Marivales, some 3 years before on 9 April 1942, General King,
Commander of the Philippine-American forces had sued for a truce. The
Bataan Death March began here at this time .
Some 3 weeks prior to our Corregidor landing, B-24 aerial bombardment
started with some 3,125 tons of bombs dropped on the island. On 7 Feb,
200 tons were dropped on that day alone. P-38, P-39 & P-51 assaults also
At 8 a.m. on 16 February 1945, 3rd Battalion, A Company, 34th
Infantry Cannon Company and a platoon of Tanks loaded with troops and
equipment on 25 LCMís (landing craft mechanized) for the move of some
five miles across north channel of Manila bay to Black Beach on the
south bottom side of Corregidor. Each landing craft had a vehicle along
with troops, which made said craft loaded to capacity.
As the 34th Infantry crossed the channel, a flight of B-24 American
bombers flew over Corregidor and dropped their load of 500 lb. bombs
completely covering the island with a cloud of dust and smoke. Following
the bombers at 8:30 a.m. came the C-47 transport planes dropping the
503rd paratroopers on topside.
The first wave of 34th Infantry troops were scheduled to hit the
Black Beach at 10:30 a.m., they were two minutes early but no one
objected. That wave consisted of K Company Commanded by Captain Frank
Cenntanni from Cleveland, OH, and L Company commanded by Capt. Louis
Stern from Champaign, IL. They had the mission of securing the top of
The second wave, which included I company commanded by Lt. Paul Cain
from Ivesdale, IL, followed. I Company lost its Jeep and driver PFC
Cresenzo to a land mine as it left the landing craft. I Companyís
mission on landing was to move across the beach to clear and secure the
north dock area.
A Company commanded by Gilbert Heaberlin had one of Cannon companyís
SPMíS (self propelled mount) on landing craft with them; it also hit a
land mine on leaving the landing craft and ended up on its side on
Bill McKenna, A Company came off the landing craft at the same time
and was knocked to ground from the blast. A Companyís mission was to
clear and secure the landing area.
By this time the Japanese were in action and sprayed the beach as
well as the third and fourth waves still offshore with heavy machine gun
(MG) fire from caves on both flanks. Fortunately Navy gun boats and a
destroyer off shore were able to quiet the guns, at least for a while.
Lt. William Soboleski from Naticoke, PA, a member of Headquarters
Company, 3rd Battalion had a mission with his mine detection team to
mark and remove all mines from the landing area. He and his crew were
able to crawl under heavy machinegun fire and mark a path through mine
field. They later removed 216 mines.
PFC Dan Car, a rifleman with K Company was killed by a bullet from a
MG as he crossed the landing beach to Malinta Hill. Dan Valles called
for aid man Ray Cash.
Donald Sletten from Thorton, CO., was a member of a dive team that
had gone in ahead of us and search the landing area for underwater
mines. When he and one other man surfaced they found that the landing
boat that brought them had left without them. So, they quietly slipped
ashore and hid until the 34th came ashore.
Sgt Personeni spotted a Japanese MG some 500 yds to our left front.
It was firing at the C47ís as they passed over after dropping the
paratroopers. We called up Dwight Dipple from Ludlow, IL with his 60 mm
mortars. After placing some rounds in that area the enemy soldiers
I Company Platoon leader, Lt. Phil Nast from NY, was hit two hours
after landing with shrapnel from a mortar shell and evacuated on a
stretcher to the Hospital ship offshore. He still had his boots on!
I Company had a man killed and two wounded and were pinned down from
machinegun fire from the main tunnel. I Company requested a tank, but
was told the beach had not yet been cleared of mines. Some 60 minutes
later they were advised that a tank was available; it was brought up and
quieted that machinegun.
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 Centani, 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
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.
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 Suffivan and three other men from Danís Plt were sent
down to secure goal post ridge. About midnight the Japís 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 top Malinta Hill.
Next morning Cpt. Centanni with his messenger Corp Mureau went down
to reconnoiter the area not realizing there were still some enemy in
that area. Both the Captain and his aid 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 reconnoiter the area. Casualties were recovered. There was no
sign of enemy.
Two hours later Sgt Owen 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 Iís men was wound-ed. We tried 81 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
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 Postaiwait, his staff and the Company Commanders with
about a dozen EM returned to Corregidor for the flag raising with Gen
The 503rd Paratrooper Regiment and the 3rd Battalion 34th Infantry
were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for the job they did on
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. #
Paul J. Cain
3109 B Chatham Dr.
Urbana, IL 61802-7044
The Taro Leaf, Vol 64(1) Winter 2010, pg. 7-10.