The debris from constant bombardment gave Malinta Hill the appearance of a moonscape. On the western side, the fractured rock was more than fifty feet deep in places. The extent of the landslide which cut the south road, killing six men, can be seen. The hill is still so fractured that area is prone, even today, to landslides.















Malinta Hill  bisected Corregidor and prevented any Japanese reinforcements from moving towards Topside.





Every day on Corregidor was the same now. I was on the surface of the moon and I lost track of time. Gunfire and explosions reverberated all around the island, at all hours day and night; although it did seem to slack off somewhat at night. Flares were sent up occasionally at night, and I tried to catch some sleep. It was like that on the 21st, when darkness fell, and I laid down near the jeep to try to catch some shut-eye. I was out for perhaps an hour and a half.

It was around 9:30 pm. Suddenly a massive explosion shook the ground, jolting me awake. Thoughts raced through my mind. What the hell was that? What had happened? It must be the signal for an attack! Maybe the Japs were trying to blow open the entrance to Malinta Tunnel and then come charging out in a banzai attack. We had been afraid of that. That must be it! It must be imminent, at any moment now. Everyone in HQ Company on the beach snapped into position. I thought, This is it, and slung my pack onto the jeep near my foxhole. It contained my extra ammo, and it was now where I could easily reach it when I needed to reload. I snapped open the ejector cover on my grease-gun and pointed it toward the entrance of Malinta Tunnel less than thirty yards away. I was ready to fire every last round at the charging Japanese. Then I would take out my .45 and fire at point blank range. I was not behind a screen of line companies this time. I was going to come face to face with the enemy. The Japs were going to make a suicidal charge directly at us, maybe hundreds of them. We were ready for them, but if they kept charging, no matter how many we killed, they would eventually swarm over us, and over me. Maybe they would wipe out the entire company. My entire war had come down to this moment. I thought that I was finished. So, this is how it ends, on this tiny, devastated island in the middle of nowhere. Well, I’ll take a lot of them with me. It was the only thing I had left. So I waited. The .50 caliber machinegun crew nearby waited with their weapon ready. All the other men of HQ Company waited with their weapons ready.

The explosion had sent large rock fragments hurtling through the air; two of them had struck Frank Alvarez on the leg, giving him a bruise and a gash. He was being patched up in the aid station. I also saw Col. Postelthwait on the field telephone asking for support from our troops on top of Malinta Hill. If the Japs charged at us on the beach, our guys could fire downward on their backs. At least we would have them in a cross-fire, but our men had to come to the edge of Malinta Hill to be in position.

We waited. Then we waited some more. It was now 10:00 pm, and still nothing had happened. We waited, and continued to wait. Five minutes seemed like five hours. Then more time passed. After an hour, I began to relax, just a little. After another half hour, I relaxed a little more. It became clearer and clearer there was not going to be a general attack on us. The night stretched on. Eventually, the sounds of firing and explosions picked up again.

Four days later on February 25th, with the mop-up campaign still ­going on, the Third Battalion was withdrawn from Corregidor. We were glad and relieved, smiling for photos on the transport that had picked us up.  On board, I had a craving for a simple pleasure: a slice of white bread. After several weeks of K-rations, I thought I now had the opportunity. I went to the galley and asked the first cook I saw: “Get outta here,” he growled. This is not the way to talk to a man who is carrying a sub-­machinegun and who has just come out of combat, I thought. But it wasn’t worth making trouble over, so I left.

The Third Battalion was sent back to Mariveles, and then a short time later to Mindoro to rejoin the rest of the 34th, which had been sent there previously.


 Surface of the Moon is Chapter 10 of  the memoir "GI In the Pacific War"  and can be purchased direct from the Authors at wrussiello<at>cs<dot>com