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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 War II

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 was shown...

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 vessels.

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 the beaches.

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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