16 February, 1945.  A destroyer comes in close during
preparation for the Corregidor landings.



















The traffic wasn't always one-way
















17 February, 1945. LCI's beached on Black Beach.





The next day, we spent our time making preparations, getting ready for the assault the next morning. I cleaned my grease-gun as I had done throughout my time in combat. After breaking down (disassembling) the weapon, I simply took a small patch of clean cloth and rammed it through the short barrel with the cleaning rod. I repeated this action until the inside was sufficiently clean. As usual, I assembled my gear and supplies. Everyone, despite the Colonel’s advice, was a little nervous with anticipation. I could look out into Manila Bay from our location in Marivalles, and just barely see Corregidor off in the distance. We could make out planes flying overhead, but I didn’t hear or see any bombing.

At 5:00 am, on February 16th, we were awakened, and began to make final preparations. Our field kitchen had not caught up with us, so we had a breakfast of cold K rations. I made a last minute check of my gear. In my pack, I had rations for two days, five pairs of socks, two changes of underwear, and my extra ammo consisting of five clips for my grease-gun. As was my standard practice, I had one clip in the weapon, one in each of the side pockets of my combat jacket, and one in each of the side pockets of my pants. Altogether, I had a total of 300 rounds, which was the standard amount for entering combat. In addition, I carried my fully loaded .45 with two extra clips in my pants pocket, and two full canteens of water on my pistol belt. My trench knife was in my right combat boot, and I also carried packets of sulfa powder. 

The Battalion then loaded onto the LCMs. The companies were spread out so that if any LCM was hit, it would not completely wipe out one unit. I happened to be next to my buddy Frank Alvarez. It was a long trip, taking us several hours to get close to the island. No one spoke very much. I remember thinking that I would try my usual plan of running to the extreme left as soon as the ramp fell. As we got closer to the island, we heard explosions from the bombing and naval gunfire. All the LCMs assembled, which was SOP (standard operating procedure). There was the telltale lull in the bombardment that meant we were going in. I was again in the third wave. Suddenly, heavy machinegun fire crackled nearby. Then, almost simultaneously, we heard the staccato, metallic sounds of the bullets striking the side of the LCM, on the outside, right next to where we stood on the inside. One of the men said: “If those fuckers are hitting us now, what’s it going to like on the beach?

The machinegun fire continued, and I wondered if we were going to be dumped into four feet of water again. Then the LCM seemed to get stuck on a sandbar. Suddenly, the ramp dropped, and an officer yelled, “Move out!

We were closer to the beach this time, in about one or two feet of water. Everyone poured out of the LCM, running through the surf in a mad dash toward the beach. I don’t remember what happened next; it’s mostly all a blank. I have only the vaguest memory of an explosion. The next thing I knew, I was under a jeep, about thirty yards off the beach. I looked around and saw the other men on the ground under cover; they were also looking around like me. Heads started to pop out here and there, is the way I remember it. Then I heard a voice: “What the hell are you doing hiding ­ under there?” It was Frank Alvarez, nearby, and he was laughing. I was still stunned from whatever had happened, and I asked Frank what was going on. “Well,” he said, “they hit the LCM with the water tank, and blew it up, so we don’t have any water.” That would be a problem, I thought. I had no memory of what had happened in the last five or ten minutes — from the time I left the LCM and started running to the beach, to the time I found myself under the jeep. In fact, I was stunned, and it took me a while to get back to normal. I never did find out what occurred until 53 years later when Frank contacted me. This is what he wrote about the moment the ramp came down and we ran toward the beach:

We knew we needed to get across the beach fast, because we knew the enemy was sealed in the tunnels and they’d pin us down if we didn’t get to high ground. But as we were running up the beach, an explosion or something knocked me to the ground. I shook my head and looked around. Russ was on the ground beside me. I said, ‘Russ, you all right?’ He said, ‘Yeah.’ I told him I saw something fly by. There was blood on me. Russ asked, “Can you move? What about your fingers? Can you wiggle your toes?’ I was OK, so Russ said, ‘Let’s get out of here!’”

Decades later, Frank related that we had been directly behind the radio man, Harold Duncan—a nice young man from Englewood, New Jersey — as we ran up the beach. He was never found, or was never seen again.* Frank remembers what he thinks was an arm flying by him as he was knocked down. The only question that I have today is whether it was a land mine or a mortar shell. In the pause between the time that our naval gunfire stopped bombarding the beach as we approached, and the time that we landed, the Japs may very well have re-mined the beach area.


*Sufficient of Pfc Harold J. Duncan (32762943) KIA on 16 February 1945, late of New Jersey, was found to be buried in the Manila Cemetery at A 13, 38.