January 1-19, 1942

For quite a few days between firings we collected equipment by the beg-borrow-steal method, and finally we had what we thought necessary for any eventuality. We then made a personal trip to all near organizations and one to the nearest AA battalion commander for information concerning friendly troops. We felt assured of our safety from surprise ground attack, but maintained outpost and interior guards of our own nevertheless. A long succession of bombings followed and one morning we were strafed by the enemy. Our gunners were on the job but one gun was having trouble and I jumped to help. That morning I thought it was all over for me — one plane with its nose pointing directly at us did not fire or we would have very soon been marked KIA. Although it happened fast, there was plenty of time to realize fully the situation — it was rather like facing a firing squad wondering when the order to fire would be given. A P-40 suddenly hedgehopped into the melee and was treated
like an enemy plane — the light was too poor and the friendly plane could not be identified. We found this out several days later.

The section base doctor paid us a visit one morning and inspected all of our sanitary apparatus — he found it satisfactory and then told us that one of our men whom we had sent to the hospital had been turned in with
infantile paralysis. What a feeling — cooped up on a peninsula of a tropical island with the threat of infantile paralysis throw in for good measure.

On the bright side, however, our battery was really running smoothly. There were no more kinks to be ironed out. We had altered the firing procedure and extended the range tables 25 yds. An Army padre paid us a visit one morning and while chatting in our tent we received the report “18 heavy bombers headed for Mariveles.” (We had tapped on the Army “flash line” and then received continuous reports of all aerial activity over Bataan or Corregidor.) The chaplain went to the control pit with us –I was commanding the battery that morning. We manned rapidly, smoothly and it was to be the first test of our new system. We sighted the planes and opened up, altitude 21,000. Our first bursts appeared right in the middle of the enemy formation — almost immediately one plane fell out of formation, an engine on fire. Our gun crews had been ordered to “cease firing” and when they say the burning plane they cheered. A report from the spotter “they have not dropped” — an oath or two was necessary to get the men ready to fire again, we gave them a parting salvo “going away.”

I glanced down at the chaplain — he was beaming. We had been the only battery to fire and we knew we had hit that one. It fell in Manila Bay. Comdr. FJB arrived and presented us with a bottle of Scotch — it surely was good. At this time food, water, medical facilities were provided by the Section Base; we had not seen a senior Marine officer since the regiment went to the ROCK. The IBIC, Navy told us to “run your own show down there, you know more about AA and Marines than I do — if you need help, let me know.” We had been on our own and our own bosses. Although it was quite a responsibility we liked the setup and were proud of our outfit. We were even then beginning to gain & high reputation on Bataan. The smoother things run, however, the surer you can be that they will change and change they did. We received an order attaching us to Naval Battalion being formed at Mariveles. That afternoon we received one naval aviator, a lieutenant, and fifty blue jackets to train. This to be an additional duty. This was on January 29, 1942 –these sailors did not even know how to clean their rifles.

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