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An Untold War Story: the Invasion of the Philippines
I was on the boat. It was slowly rocking back and forth. I knew this would be my most comfortable moment all day.
“Sgt. Yeary, we’re approaching Philippine shores,” one of my men told me, “Heavy resistance is waiting for us.”
“Alright. Dismissed, private,” I said.
So it was the Philippines. We had been speculating all day, but this is farther away from New Guinea than we thought.
Next thing I knew, we were all loaded into the ducks, guns and all. The other radio communicator and I had all of the devices we needed to call for air strikes, and contact the base at New Guinea while we were here. The large door (that resembled one that you would find in a garage) lowered. We lurched into the water, the sound of gunfire and planes were blaring over everything else. We moved fast towards the shore. I felt horrible for the guys in front, because these were the last seconds of their lives.
We stopped at the edge of the shore. It took ten long seconds to lower the front of the boat down.
10… The steel grinding of the door could cut the sea in half…
9… The water moves into the crevice between the opening door and the side of the boat…
8… The door reveals the shore…
7… We can see the bonsai Japs ripping out the hearts of good soldiers with their bayonets.
6… A bullet whizzes through the air and Pvt. Hardy drops to his knees, a red stream rolling down the back of his neck.
5… 4… 3… 2…
1… The door opens and the first two rows instantly drop to their knees, screaming.
The rest of us rushed off the boat; there was no time to worry about our fallen friends. We pressed on, carrying as much equipment as we could. I had somehow miraculously survived, carrying multiple shovels and a radio. I gave some guys the shovels just as a mortar landed not fifty yards away from me.
I ran back to the duck to get more supplies, and made another dangerous trip back to shore again. I picked up a shovel and helped dig the hole, which was already halfway done. We had at least nine guys digging that hole. Not twenty minutes later, we had dug a hole sixteen feet into the ground and tunneled three feet into the side, and counting. By the time we tunneled five feet in, we had been pushing back at the Japs for an hour.
I jumped in the hole, my body covered with sand, dirt and sweat. I pulled the radio communicator and head phones to my ears and mouth and called in: “Army artillery to base, we need air support at the following coordinates…”
I used Morse code to communicate the coordinates and within minutes a hellfire of bombs came down on the enemy’s side of the beach.
Nighttime. We cleared two sectors of the beach in eight hours of mortar and air strikes. We ate out of our mess kits. Cold slop. The night hours had been pretty uneventful. The Japanese would whoop and holler to try to provoke us, but we had been ordered not to fire unless there was an actual attack.
As I hung my mess kit on a tree, we heard three loud noises:
Pop, Pop, fizzzzzzzzzz…
Next thing we knew, there were two blinding lights in the sky, and mortar shells everywhere. We all jumped in the hole, where we waited for the strike to be over. Once the flares fizzled out, the Japs couldn’t see us to shell us, so we were safe. We pulled ourselves out of the hole. We found nobody hurt, but our entire camp was pitch black.
I went to pull my mess kit off of the tree, but found the there was only half a mess kit still there. I pulled my broken mess kit off the tree. It occurred to me that I would only be having half portions now. At least it wasn’t ME that was blown in half.
The rest of the night we took turns on watch. There was more whooping and hollering and fake shots from the Japs, but no more serious attacks came. That day we had taken the beach, but there was still the jungle to overcome.
I woke up in the morning to find Captain Rogers giving a final lecture. “Today we take the Philippines. Many of us will not come back. But we risk this sacrifice for the freedom of our country, and for the fall of the Axis powers!” Everyone roared with approval. Today was the day that we would take the Philippines.
The morning’s invasion started like this:
A squad of Marines on the other side of the beach called an air strike on the edge of the jungle. The Japanese were surprised at an attack so early in the morning, so we gained the advantage. We moved up on the beach and shelled them immediately. By midday, we had advanced far into the jungle, and the Japs were dropping like flies at our air strikes. The battle was ours by a landslide, but we still had a long way to go. That was, until, the air force showed up with an entire fleet to bomb the island. The Japanese bases were decimated, the entire jungle on fire. We had won. We would take the Philippines.
We declared victory not thirty minutes after that bombing. We celebrated on our boat, and went back to New Guinea. Happiness was in the air, and although we had lost friends, today was a day where we felt like we could actually win the war.
We had taken the Philippines, but that didn’t win the war. As of last week, I was to go on the invasion of Japan. Fear was my every-day reality, nightmares filled my sleep. Each day, I knew that tomorrow I would be killed.
The last gun had been loaded onto the boat. We had five minutes to say goodbye to base, and then most of us would be off to our graves. As we prepared to get on the boat, a very official looking general followed by an army of attendants stopped us.
“Attention!” screamed the General.
We all snapped to, of course.
“I am about to make you all very happy men. As you may have heard, an atom- splitting bomb has been dropped on two Japanese cities. Japan has surrendered --- you’re all going home!”
Elation roared over the crowed, and in my heart.
2011. I still remember my grandfather (whose name has been changed to protect his privacy) telling my father and me his World War II stories when I was in kindergarten. The stories have more significance now that I am older and can better appreciate them. I was instilled with Grandpa’s memories at such a young age that they shape me as a person. His bravery and American pride has made me a very patriotic person. My grandfather’s stories will follow me everywhere, his courage guiding me. Sometimes I even ask myself, “What would Grandpa do?” and sometimes it helps me make the right choices. Grandpa is the true personification of courage.
The grit of the war in the pacific was something that could break many men today. Ruthless Bonsai troopers sliced into American soldiers with their bayonets and Kamikaze fighters crashed their planes into American boats, dying for their emperor. My Grandpa, only being in his early twenties, had to deal with this as his reality. The fact that he was strong enough to deal with it has always inspired me as a person. Maybe he inspires me because he was on the front lines of the one of the bloodiest wars in history and survived completely unscathed. That is why I dedicate this story to my Grandpa and all WWII veterans, living or dead, because we can all learn something from their courage and determination to protect their home and country.