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.






























Climbing Malinta Hill the hard way.


A few seconds, minutes (who knows, time moves slowly) later, I heard the sound of sharp explosions coming from my right. Without slowing down, I looked in that direction and found that the noise was caused by the explosion of 20MM rounds that appeared to be coming from the high ground on the left flank of the beach. The gun had the beach enfiladed. The rounds were exploding against the side of Malinta Hill. At that moment, had someone put a stopwatch on me, I suspect that I might have broken the four minute  mile,  wearing combat boots and carrying a full pack. I prayed harder. My luck held.

I hit the sand behind a slight rise, that may have been 150 yards or so from the water's edge. As I peered over the top of the slope, I noticed a platoon of Americans just going around the far end of Malinta Hill. I gathered two of my squads, one squad was missing. I told the squad leaders to disperse the men while Sgt. Farrel, my platoon Sgt., a messenger and I went to the top of the Hill to see what the situation was. It was a steep climb over rubble, but we took no fire and soon found ourselves at the top. We were on top of and just to the right, as you face it, of the entrance to the tunnel that ran back into Malinta Hill. We could see that the mouth of the tunnel was sand bagged and that it had a heavy iron gate partly across the entrance. We saw no sign of the enemy. I saw that the beach was under heavy small arms and mortar fire.

As I watched,  an assault boat plunged to a halt on the left flank of the beach. One man ran from the boat before it pulled back from the shore. ( Later in the 54th General Hospital in Hollandia, I was told the boat held the men from Bn. Hq. and that Colonel Postlethwait was the one who got off. The boat had taken heavy fire and had a number of men wounded.)

As I looked toward North Dock, I saw a ring of white smoke slowly rise from the ground. It reminded a of the smoke rings my grandfather would blow when he smoked cigars. When I looked toward the beach, I would see an explosion shortly after one of the smoke rings would appear. I assumed that a Jap mortar crew was responsible for the smoke rings and that they were probably being directed from someone on the high ground.

Overhead our planes, F4Us circled. Suddenly we saw a green smoke grenade let loose, as I recall it was green, regardless of the color it was the signal for air support. As we watched, one of the planes began to dive towards the smoke. I suggested to my companions that perhaps it was a good time for us to leave our position, rejoin the rest of the platoon and seek out Lt. Cain, the company commander. All concurred in my decision and we got the hell out of there as fast as we could.

When we arrived at the base of the Hill, a  runner was there who informed me that Lt. Cain had need of my platoon. By this time the missing squad had joined us.  We followed the runner to Cain's position. He was behind a hill towards the left flank, some distance from the beach. He told me that through his glasses he could see movement some distance up a road that led from our position to Topside. He said that it was not possible to determine whether the troops he saw were them or us because the paratroops wore sandy colored uniform,  not too unlike what the Japs wore. My orders were to take my platoon up that road and make contact with the 503d.. I was to be careful because the individuals I was to approach might be on our side, so I was not to shoot at them. I gave him my best Benning "Yes, Sir"but my intent was that if anybody shot at me, he was going to get shot back at.

At about the time I was ready to move out, Sam Snyder shouted that he had seen a Nip at the top of the hill. We looked, saw nothing, so I told the outfit to follow me. As I recall, I took about two steps, saw black smoke and felt something hit my left chest. It felt like I had been punched. When I came to, Sam Snyder had pulled me back behind the hill and was shouting for a medic. For sometime I was in  and out of consciousness. Each time I came to, Sam was shouting for a medic.  He had already put my field dressing on the wound and had tried to get me to swallow one of the wound tablets. ( If you want an experience, try swallowing one of those pills, big enough to choke a horse, while lying flat on your back with a hole in your chest, while drinking water from a canteen.) Sam came up with the school solution, he crushed the tablet and poured it into the wound.

I heard Sam shout, "Where in the hell have you been?" as two medics approached. For a moment I feared that Sam and the medics might ignore me and get into a private war of their own. I was loaded on to a stretcher and those two guys carried me to the beach. If you think that it takes guts to be an infantryman, try running around a hot beach standing up, carrying a stretcher. If I could have gotten off and walked I would have.  I tipmy Combat Infantry Badge to anyone who served in combat with the field medics.

When I got to the aid station, a medical Captain looked at my chest and told me that I had a sucking wound. Fortunately that meant nothing to me. I remember that as I was lying there, the sun was terribly hot and bothered my uncovered chest and my eyes. As I was given plasma, the Doc told the man who was holding the bottle to stand in such a way that his body cast a shadow on my face. I don't know who had more guts,  the doctor for telling the medic to stand that way on a hot beach or the medic who carried out his order.

I came to again to find that I was once more on a stretcher. I was placed on the deck of an assault boat as more wounded were loaded on board. The boat was almost full when I heard explosions close to us. I heard one of the medics shout to the coxswain that the Japs were trying to hit us with mortar fire and that he should get us out of there. Apparently he did so, because the next thing I remember  was that I was on the deck of an AST. A doctor was moving from man to man. He would check the wound and then say something to other men who were with him. He examined me, said something and moved on as two men picked hp my stretcher and carried me to the tank deck. I later learned that the doctor was conducting triage. I floated in and out of consciousness for an unknown period of time.