Officers and men of the 592 EBSR Motor Maintenance Section.
Batangas, Luzon, Philippine Islands. May 1945







As the convoy approached the stricken area they could easily discern a small group, of white people on the beach wildly waving the American flag. The coast-was clear. Quickly the craft disposed themselves according to prearranged plans. The "Susfu Maru" and the rocket LCM took up positions covering the approaches of a long winding channel, for enemy machine guns were known to have been set up along these approaches. 1st Lieutenant Joseph J. Blumberg of Queens Village, New York, then maneuvered his LCM through the narrow reef-studded channel while the second LCM was sent out beyond the range of small arms fire to stand by as the safety boat.  The picket boat moved back and forth directing all movement by radio and ready to add her fire to any critical spot. All men and officers literally held their breaths while Lt. Blumberg's LCM made the channel at dead slow speed.  “She was just a sitting duck with no room to maneuver in case of attack. The beach was finally made without a shot being fired, the ramp lowered, “ - and the refugees entered the barge among scenes that will never be forgotten.

Aboard the first LCM was a man we shall call "Colonel Mac".  He was a member of General MacArthur's Staff and had been evacuated from Corregidor before its capture by the Japs in 1942. Colonel Mac's wife was among the group of refugees and he was standing on the catwalk near the ramp eagerly searching the crowd when he saw his wife smiling at him. For three long years they had waited for that day. Meanwhile, people of all nationalities quickly came aboard. Instead of the expected fifty people there were ninety, so Lt James E. Klug went in with the second LCM and picked up the remainder.

Still amazed at receiving no fire and by way of celebration, Lt Kavanaugh and the crewmen on his "Susfu Maru" fired a few rounds at a Jap lugger stranded on a reef and set her afire. In the meantime Lt Stevenson and his crew shot up and set ablaze two Jap Q-Boats.  While this was going on, the civilians held their own celebration with the rations, especially the canned cheese which they had not tasted in several years.

It was later discovered that the Japs did have positions on all approaches to the beachhead but had taken off when they saw the landing craft heading into shore. They had flashed the word that an assault landing was being staged and, mindful of the bombardment that accompanies most of the Yank landings, the Jap Headquarters had even moved their CP further into the hills in an effort to hide from the hated Yanks.

The great versatility of Amphibians was never shown to better advantage than by the varied activities of the 592d Task Group at Legaspi on the southeastern tip of Luzon.  This was another city in the province of Batangas which fell under the spell of the 592d. On April Fool's Day of 1945, Major Henry M. Sept and his force composed of Company D and one platoon from B Company landed the 158th RCT and again found the Japs a minus quantity.  Soon after they landed, the group got the job of salvaging and operating the remains of the old Legaspi-Manila Railroad. 1st Lieutenant Frank Trumbly of Burbank, Oklahoma, was Operations Officer in charge of the new enterprise.  With fourteen men to help him, Lieutenant Trumbly began the job with little of no experience, one questionable locomotive, a twisted track studded with bomb craters and small rolling stock of ancient and battered cars.  Staff Sergeant Alex G. Smith of Elgin, Texas, was able to round up a working crew of two hundred Filippinos who had at least seen a railroad before and with Company D men supervising the job, ties and rails were salvaged from sidings to repair the main line. Dilapidated cars and the tired old engine were repaired.  In less than a month the line was operating over a distance of forty-two miles.  The inaugural run was almost ruined by a group of snipers. The train was derailed on the second trip right in the middle of a skirmish with a by-passed pocket of Japs.  Somehow the boys got it back on the track and beat a hasty retreat. "Seipt's Short Line Serving Southern Luzon" finally consisted of an engine and tender, a hospital coach, capable of accommodating fifty litter patients and a hundred walking wounded, a reefer car for perishables, a caboose unbelievably equipped with a kitchen, and forty flat cars.  Men from Company D operated the railroad.  PFC Willie L. Ballowe of Richmond, Virginia, was the engineer.  Corporal Warren G. Keough of Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania, and PFC Harry F. Canese from Brooklyn, New York, were dispatchers. The railroad even boasted a station master in the form of Private Michael Fitzsimmons of Brooklyn, New York.  Everyone said that, with a Brooklyn dispatcher and station master the "Short Line" could not help but be a howling success.

The second versatile move came when the Amphibians became field Artillery men to help out the 158th RCT. Out of the estimated enemy garrison of eight thousand troops stationed around Legaspi, the majority were either killed or had been pushed from the area. However, about fifteen hundred of them were caught in a basin at the top of the heights just behind the town and were surrounded before they could escape. But as often happens in such cases, the catch provided a first class problem.  Hiding down in a natural depression, the Japs were safe from direct observation and the rim of hills around them provided protection from flat trajectory artillery fire. The Commanding Officer of the 158th had been very much impressed by the firepower put out by the rocket LCM at the time of the initial landing. He recalled all the hell they were able to raise and wistfully remarked, thinking aloud, how nice it would be if the Japs were within range of the boats. As that was not possible the next best thing was to take the rockets to them. By working feverishly all day on the l0th of April the maintenance men were able to remove three rocket launchers from the rocket LCM and weld them on the bed of a weapons carrier truck.  The contraption was test fired and, except for the backflash setting off the dry grass at the rear of the truck, was pronounced satisfactory. Master Sergeant Frank C. Holton of Richmond, Virginia, Private Bertram E. Higgins of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Private Leroy Stephens of Indiana. all of Hq Co Boat Battalion, were detailed as a crew for the new weapon. Loading up the racks, and with a reload behind in a trailer, the Amphibians took to the hills. After marking it out on the map and scouting it in a jeep, the men pulled into their first position and set up for business.  Private Higgins pressed the switch and the first batch of thirty-six rockets went sailing over the coconut trees into the Jap retreat. During the next thirty days they made several trips and fired a total of over six hundred rockets.  An indication of their effectiveness was given by a Jap lieutenant who was captured on 7 May just a few days before the occupation was completed.  According to him a whole platoon including the officer in charge was wiped out the day before by what they thought was mortar fire, when they left cover to scout out an escape from the pocket.  But the 158th RCT had fired no mortars that day and the 592d men had delivered on especially heavy rocket load.