My Experiences in the Philippines During
World War II
The battle of Zig Zag Pass
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My Experiences in the Philippines During World
Back in the 1970's, thirty years after my military
service in WWII, I was still suffering from nightmares of those
horrific times, re-living the bloody battles of combat: and envisioning
the pain and death of those around me as if it were still happening.
Someone told me that if I put my memories to paper,
my nightmares would be relieved. The words that follow are my
recounting of those experiences - the memories I set to paper
in order to put my nightmares to rest. And though the writing
exercise proved to be the antidote I needed, in truth no one
ever forgets the tragedy I have seen, no matter how old one becomes.
I will be 85 this year, but what I experienced
is set in my mind as graphically-clear today as it was the day
it happened. Few veterans from this conflict are still living
today and the stories of Zig-Zag Pass are dying with them. But
here is my story - the story of a simple man to whom God's grace
Japanese Marines were holding Zig-Zag Pass...
It was predicted it could never be taken. We, the
38th Cyclone Infantry Division, had never been in combat, yet
our task was to face the Japanese in an attempt to take the pass.
I was only eighteen at the time, but most of the men in combat
with me were in their thirties and forties. I doubt any of them
are still living today.
Our division had just finished a six-month assignment
in New Guinea, which primarily consisted of unloading bombs from
ships. The heat was unbelievable! We were just ten degrees from
the equator and refrigeration was an unknown luxury in New Guinea.
I remember burying our soda and beer in the ground to keep it
cool, but even that didn't do much good. Simply getting out of
the sun wasn't enough. It was the general consensus of the men
that our camp in the jungle was about as close to hell as we
could imagine. But we were soon to discover that the heat of
New Guinea was heaven compared to combat.
Heading for an undisclosed location, we were loaded
into a convoy of ships. The ships finally docked at Laity Island
in the Philippines, where we spent our time on guard duty. After
three months we shipped out again, back on a troop carrier in
a large convoy of ships, destroyers, submarines and other combat
We knew we were in for something big, although
we didn't know what, until we arrived off the coast of Luzon
Island in the Philippines, at Subic Bay. Our convoy was moving
in a huge circle, lowering large landing-crafts loaded with combat
troops, while the big guns on our ships were blasting away at
When a landing craft was in the water, it would
join others in a smaller circle, until all the landing crafts
had converged. I need not tell you how scared we were... you
could see the panic on men's faces. Without a doubt we were praying!
We were not discussing theological questions about the existence
of God. WE WERE PRAYING!
The command was given to hit the beach. We came
out of the circle and headed for the shoreline. The landing craft
couldn't quite make it, so we jumped off the end of the craft
and waded the rest of the way. To our surprise, there was no
enemy waiting for us at the beach.
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