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
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
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
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.
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.