Albuquerque, New Mexico
Locking horns with the devil
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December 7,1941, U.S. Time
December 8, across the International Date Line
Battery D, 200 CA-AA Stationed at Clark Field. Our barracks
were half mile plus from the runway. We were used to being
coiled out for practice day or night, but this day seemed
different. We moved out right after breakfast to a position
between Clark Field and Fort Stotsenberg. Fort Stotsenberg
was a Filipino cavalry post. I guess we were supposed
to give what air protection we could for both the air
field and cavalry post. About a mile and a half separated
the post and air field.
About noon. First Lt. Eddie Kemp called 40 to 50 names;
I don't remember all of them. My name was on the list.
Rufus Whitman, Sgt 4, Gun Commander, Frank Jones, Jack
(Bailey) Hnidak, SS, Tom Hunt, SS , Frank Wilson, Harold
Hise, Tony Bolt, Gap Silva. These names and others were
in the process of becoming Battery D, 515 CA-AA. We didn't
know at the time but the wheels were in motion.
We loaded on a couple trucks, left our 3" guns behind
and went back to camp where Lt Kemp told us we were at
war with Japan. They had bombed Pearl Harbor, practically
destroyed our Navy. We would be next under attack. All
most of us had at that time were our 30-06 rifles, a couple
of air cooled louis machine guns. I think Harold Hise
was on a 50 cat mach gun when he came into camp after
the air raid. He said he had shot down a zero fighter.
Sgt. R. Welch, in charge of supplies, opened up the warehouse
and we had access to the ammunition. I filled my gun belt
about the time the first wave of bombers came over. They
were out of range of anything we had, all we could do
was watch them destroy Clark Field. Fires were burning
where planes, barracks [were hit. There were ] many casualties,
mostly Air Force at this time.
After the last wave of bombers were gone, the zeros came
in. The air was full of them. They were diving, straffing
everything they could see. But it gave us a chance to
shoot back. Lt. Kemp, myself, four or five others were
standing beside a barracks. I don't know what the others
were doing. We should have been looking for cover but
this was new to us. All we wanted to do was fight back.
The zeros were coming in so close, you could see the pilots'
faces looking down.
All I can remember feeling was rage at what they were
doing. When a plane got close, I would empty my 30-06,
reload and wait for another. I remembered to give a little
lead, like shooting ducks. Lt. Kemp was right behind me
and he kept asking, "do you think you hit him?"
All I could say was I don't know. My rifle barrel got
pretty warm. Then they were gone. We had a chance to look
around. It looked pretty hopeless. Our Motor Pool hadn't
been hit quite as bad, so we still had some trucks running.
Taking what we could carry in our back packs, our rifles,
ammunition, canteen, mess kits, we loaded up in trucks,
leaving everything else behind. Sometime after dark, we
pulled into Manila, to a warehouse where we worked most
of the night cleaning up equipment, 2 3" guns, a
director, ammunition, and by day light we were set up
and ready. On a beach at the edge of Manila, we were in
full view of Manila Bay, Corregidor, and in the path of
Jap planes heading for Cavite Naval Station. A few days
later it was official. Battery D 515 CA-AA: First Lt.
Eddie Kemp to Captain; Sgt Thomas Hunt to Staff Sgt-Director;
Cpl Jack (Bailey) Hnidak to Sgt-Director; Pvt Frank Jones
to PFC-Cpt; RFC Virgil Aimes to CPL-runner; CPL Ruff us
Whiteman to Sgt-Gun Commander; Sgt Frank Wilson to S.S.
Director; CPL Pecavich to Sgt Commander; other names and
positions they worked out, I can't remember, just a few
of my closest friends; Jack (Bailey) Hnidak, Rufus Whiteman,
Frank Jones, were very close friends.
Air raid sirens screamed, often day and night. Planes,
sometimes in our area, sometimes just going over to other
Christmas Day - 1941 - P.I. Christmas Dinner 1941, a can
of "c" and a can of "k" rations. It
wasn't too bad. We hardly knew it was Christmas anyway.
We loaded up, left Manila. It took us a couple days to
get to Bataan. Setting up in different locations to cover
the retreat. About 3 days later, we set up where we were
to stay for a while. On the Manila Bay side of the peninsula
and in the path of planes going to attack Corregidor.
One of the locations we set up was where a Battery from
Corregidor had been the day before. But they had been
bombed out, lost 2 or 3 men and gone back to Corregidor.
About the first of January, we were pretty well set up.
We were in the path of Jap planes going toward Corregidor.
West had a couple small air fields with 3 or 4 planes
operating from Bataan. General orders from General MacArthur
to all units went something like this: "Help is on
the way. We will hold out for 30 days. Help will be here."
His orders left no doubt what we had to do. But 30 days
came and went, no help. General MacArthur was ordered
to Australia. 60 days, 90 days, no help. Rations were
down to almost a starvation diet. An old Filipino man
came by with a little pet monkey and offered to sell it
if we didn't eat it. Ruffus Whiteman and I scraped up
5 or 6 pesos for it. I still remember the little monkey.
He was crying with his hands over his head when I hit
him with my bayonet. A medic took it to the kitchen, cooked
him and made gravy. He brought some of it back to us,
but I couldn't touch it.
All through our part of the war, I was very angry at what
the Japs were doing. I wanted to shoot down all of their
planes. I was very happy when one went down, but I can't
forget what I did to that little monkey. When I dressed
him out, he looked just like a little baby.
The controls on our guns were clock like pointers to be
matched by the operators. When pointers matched, gun commander
gave orders to fire. Gunners would fire as fast and as
many times as they could till they got cease fire order.
We didn't have time to look up to see what had happened
till we got a cease fire. I was very proud of my gun crew,
actually it was Ruffus Whiteman's crew. He was the Gun
Commander, his job was on the telephone from the director
crew. My job was gunner, then we had the fuse setter,
elevation, asmuth, ammunition handlers. Everyone worked
as a team. When planes were coming in, Ruffus would grab
his telephone and I would call out, "Man the guns",
and [we] were ready in seconds. When things were quiet,
Ruffus and I would have long talks about where each man
worked the best, who was most dependable. We had several
Filipino boys, untrained of course, they were used mostly
to pass ammunition.
A few days later, a few of us were sitting around on the
gun platform when there was a small explosion. Three men
got shrapnel wounds, Gap Silva, a Filipino boy, and one
other, I can't recall who. I checked the Filipino boy,
it was just a flesh wound. A medic was checking Silva.
He got shrappnal in his leg and arm. One of the books
I have, said it was a stray 37 mil shell, but there was
no activity that day and I still think it could have been
a hand grenade, it was pretty dense jungle behind us and
someone could have gotten in pretty close and ran away.
Things got pretty quiet for a while. I guess the Japs
had to wait for fresh troops and equipment. That was good
for us, we were pretty beat any way, malaria, hunger,
etc. Capt Kemp told us to put our guns out of commission
and get ready to move out. I dismantled the firing mechanism
and scattered it in the jungle behind us. Others destroyed
the controls, clocks and cables. We loaded up and moved
down the road about a mile and set up a new line. It was
on a jeep road on top of a ridge. Jungle behind us and
an open flat in front. The bottom of the valley, open
space about 300 yards across that gave us the advantage
over any Japs coming across. Most of us had 30-06, three
or four 30 cat mach guns.
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