"Our landings were always unopposed... wherever the Japanese had a strong point, we would go north of them and make a landing. That would cut them off from their supplies because by this time, we had pretty much air superiority and they couldn’t be supplied by air and they were just left there."
I graduated from university and then reported for active duty at Fort Bliss, Texas. Then I was assigned to a 90 mm gun [American heavy anti-aircraft weapon] battery. When we went overseas, we landed in Brisbane [Australia] and we got off the ship, and we had to stay there for about two weeks unloading the ship and so forth. As we got off the ship and we bivouaced [camped] in a football stadium or actually, a soccer stadium, but as we walked up the street, everybody, all the women and people, they keep pouring out of the buildings. They ran out and they grabbed us all, and hug us and kiss us and so forth because the Japanese were moving down the islands; and all of the Australian troops, they had only two divisions and they were in the Middle East. They [the Australians] were absolutely defenseless. So when we arrived, we were heroes without ever having fired a shot.
Then from there, we moved into New Guinea. Those were the earlier parts of the New Guinea campaign was the south end of the island and that was Kokoda Pass. We landed on the west coast and then when over the mountains to the east coast because we travelled up the east coast which led us to the Philippines.
Our landings were always unopposed. Occasionally there would be some slight opposition, but the tactic was, the Japanese had certain strong parts along the coast, where they had lots of troops and guns, and ammunition and the whole thing. What we would do would by on landing ship tanks, the LSTs they were, and they could go right into a beach, and drop their gate at the front and motor vehicles, and guns and equipment and so forth, could unload almost directly onto dry land. You’d be in a couple of feet of water was all. And so what we would do was wherever the Japanese had a strong point, we would go north of them and make a landing. That would cut them off from their supplies because by this time, we had pretty much air superiority and they couldn’t be supplied by air and they were just left there; and we could slowly, but surely kill them all off.
I was the so-called gun officer. There was four officers. There was a captain who was the head cheese and then there was a range officer; and by that time, we had radar and he was in charge of the radar and the radar apparatus. Then there was a second lieutenant, he was a general handyman; and I was the gun officer, and I was in charge of, we had four 90 mm guns and they all reported to me. I was responsible for their operation. I told them when, we laid our guns by radar and when we were firing anti-aircraft, which was most of the time, and we laid the gun by radar and I told them, when we would be tracking an enemy aircraft, why, of course, in order to attack accurately, the Japanese aircraft would have to make a run for several miles on a straight and level course. Otherwise, they couldn’t attack; and it was during that period that then they were susceptible to our anti-aircraft fire. So as soon as they would off and the data was smooth, then I would give a command to commence firing and the guns would just fire at will. We had four guns in the battery until the planes were either destroyed or were out of range.
Our battery, during the war there, we had a record, as I recall, like 48 sure kills and then there were probables where everything was, we had lots of witnesses, they saw the planes go down and so forth, but they went down into water, so they couldn’t be recovered or seen, or counted and then they were called probables. We had about, I don’t remember now, about 25 or 30, or 40 of those.
I think what stands out most is when we would shoot down the enemy planes and we’d be firing at them and then all of a sudden, like we’d bracket one and the wing would fall off and the plane would crack, it would just come tumbling down. And you know, that was what was really the exciting part about it.