1945: Marine Air Support Saves Soldiers Trapped in Philippine Ravine
Marine Air Support in WWII
“Fantastically Accurate” Bombing Run Saves Group of Soldiers
Location: east of Manila, Philippines
Assignment: 6th Division to XIV Corps
“During the night, a small group of 15 or 20 men began withdrawing form high ground and fell or tumbled into a 40 foot ravine. At the time, they were carring Lt. Stock on a litter. There are about 12 men and Lt. Stock in the ravine, and they refuse to leave until [he] dies or they can get him out… At the present time, the ravine is covered by enemy fire. No plans for advance until men have been cleared out…”
ALPman Mconaughy, already nearby with the 20th Regiment, was summoned hastily to move his team and radio equipment within sight of the trapped men – actually almost a mile away, but “terrain visibility was superb.”
In McConaughy’s own words, the action of the drama:
“There were Japs a couple hundred yards away [from the stranded patrol]… After a very thorough briefing, all by radio, the regimental commander (after one dummy run by the flight leader was right on) said the lead plane could drop one wing bomb.
It was beautiful to watch. We were on a high cliff on one side of the valley and it was a clear day. The first drop was dead on. The colonel was impressed and allowed that we could let the lead plane come in again and drop his belly and other wing bomb. It took the SBD 20 minutes to climb up again and we could watch the whole show as if it were the movies.
His second dive was fantastically accurate, too, and the colonel said he was convinced, so the other eight planes followed the squadron leader down. The bombing was fantastically successful – the farthest one of 27 bombs being 30 (honest, only thirty) yard off target. They got the party out thanks to this discouragement to the Nips and from then on the colonel couldn’t get enough planes for his regiment – literally, he asked for nine flights (9 planes each) as a standing, daily order.”
General Patrick personally witnessed the performance; in his air summary, he described the feat as “superb.”
Except for the special significance that this mission had to the observers on the ground, and the fact that all results wer clearly witnessed and recorded, it would probbably have slipped by as a routine bombing as did so many others of perhaps comparable success. The “fantastically accurate” pilots who participated were unaware of their good deed; perhaps they still are. Back at Mangaldan, 115 air-miles away, squadron action reports for the day were of an oft-repeated nature – Results of damage: “Unobserved.”