"FREQUENTLY ASKED 503d QUESTIONS"
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4How can I get my medals or those of my family? 

4How can I get a copy of my DD Form 214, Report of Separation (or equivalent form)?

4Where can I get a copy of Military Service Records

4To whom do I write to obtain decorations awarded but not received? 

4I was sent to Japan from the Philippines, but never received my "Army of Occupation Medal."  

4Can I check where a Trooper is buried?

4If a Trooper  is buried in Manila where should I write?

4How many Combat Jumps did the 503rd make?

4Who landed on the beach?

4Where is Suicide Cliff?

4But there were cliff suicides, weren't there?

4How many Japanese were killed in retaking the Rock?

4How many 503d Paratroopers were killed on Corregidor? And elsewhere?

4Were any 503d Paratroopers captured and tortured by the Japanese?

 


GO TO FAQ AWARDS PAGE

 

Where can I get a copy of Military Service Records?

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the official repository for records of military personnel who have been discharged from the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard.

Paper copies of military service and pension records can be ordered by mail from the facility which holds the records.  Visit National Personal Records Center.

How can I get a copy of my DD Form 214, Report of Separation (or equivalent form)?

The DD Form 214, Report of Separation, is filed in the official military personnel file.  Complete instructions for obtaining a copy of your DD 214 may be found under Official Military Personnel File including Active Duty Health Record, Services for veterans, next-of-kin, or the veteran's representative.

To whom do I write to obtain decorations awarded but not received? 

 

If it shows on your DD 214 that you were entitled to the medal but didn't receive it, you can  obtain a replacement by contacting  your former military service.  For information about that process, check the website of the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. 

The section of its website for requesting medals is:  http://www.nara.gov/regional/mprawr.html

  How can I get my medals or those of my family?

NPRC (MPR) does not issue service medals; that is a function of each military service department.  Nevertheless, veterans may request issuance or replacement of their medals and awards.  Family members may only request medals and awards of living veterans by obtaining their signed authorizations.  For deceased veterans, requests will be accepted from next-of-kin (unremarried widow or widower, son or daughter, father or mother, brother or sister of the deceased veteran).  Military Awards and Decorations contains instructions and addresses for submitting requests.  A sample authorization is also included for review.

I was sent to Japan from the Philippines, but never received my "Army of Occupation Medal."  

If you need a copy of your DD214 or other military records, go to the same website, only go to this site: <http://www.nara.gov/regional/mpr.html>.  However, if your DD 214 does not show that you earned the medal, you'll need  to apply to have your records corrected.  You can do that by contacting your former service's Board for Correction of Military Records.  Those addresses  can be found on <http://www.va.gov> to the left side under "Today's VA" and clicking on "Public Affairs."  At the next page, click on "Feature Items," and then finally on the document "Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents."  Look for the section "Correction of Military Records on pages 59-60. " If you have any problems downloading and printing out the necessary SF 180 to request your records or the DD149 for a correction of records, or in accessing the addresses, let me know and I'll mail copies of those items to you.

Clayton E. Cochran 
Consumer Affairs Service 
VA Central Office, Washington, D.C. 

Answer furnished by Bob Flynn

Can I check where a Trooper is buried?

 

If he is interred in a family plot, no. If he is interred in a Military Cemetery maintained by the AMERICAN BATTLE MONUMENTS COMMISSION conduct a search at their web search facility

If a Trooper  is buried in Manila where should I write?

To: American Battle Monuments Commission, Washington, D.C. 20314-0001 

 

Details on the Manila Cemetery

How many Combat Jumps did the 503rd make?

Three jumps in five actions.

1. COMBAT JUMP #1: The  Markham Valley, New Guinea,  5 September 1943.  After the concept of vertical envelopment came close to being abandoned following several 'less than successful' engagements in Europe,  this was the first successful US Airborne Combat Jump. We forced the Japanese evacuation of a major base at Lae to take a route which proved to be disastrous for them. The third Battalion of the 503nd had a major skirmish with the rear guard of this exodus.

2.  COMBAT JUMP #2: Noemfoor, Dutch New Guinea, July 1944.  Two rifle Battalions jumped, followed by an amphibious landing by the other rifle Battalion a few days later. The Regiment was employed in the elimination of the Japanese garrison. Sergeant Ray E. Eubanks was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, posthumously.

3. Mindoro, Philippines, 15 December 1944.  - Amphibious landing, due to inadequate airstrip facilities at the embarcation point on Leyte. We were subjected to intense air and naval actions during this operation, at one point being shelled for 25 minutes by a Japanese Naval task force. A   503rd Coy  engaged in a fierce battle against a Company-size enemy air raid warning station on the North end of Mindoro.

4.  COMBAT JUMP #3:  Corregidor,  16 February 1945.   Awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. Private Lloyd G. McCarter was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.  D Coy made amphibious landing.

5. Negros, Central Philippines - Amphibious landing, to bolster the 40th Division which was bogged down.  The 503rd engaged in fierce battles against frantic Japanese resistance in the mountainous areas of Negros for more than five months.   In August 1945, about 7,500  Japanese troops surrendered to the 503rd PRCT, the 40th having withdrawn.

The War Department has not recognised  Markham Valley and Noemfoor as officially credited combat jumps.

Answer furnished by Don Abbott

Who landed on the beach?

In general every one except the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 503rd para inf , the 462nd para FA battalion [less those who might have come in with the 1st Battalion], Co. C 161st para engineers, [less those elements with the 1st Battalion]

Landing on the beach were
1st Battalion, 503rd [reinforced]
3rd Battalion, 34th Inf [reinforced]
Battery A, 950th AA AW Battalion
18th Portable Surgical Hospital [reinforced]
174th Ordnance Service Detachment [Bomb Disposal]
Detachment 98th Signal Battalion
Detachment 592nd Engineer Boat and Shore Regimentt
Detachment 1st platoon, 603rd Tank Co.
Detachment 592nd JASCO [A signal unit some of whom may have jumped]
Detachment 6th SAP [forward air controllers]
3rd Platoon Anti Tank Company, 34th Infantry Regiment
3rd Platoon, Cannon Company. 34th Infantry Regiment

Source Field Order #9, Headquarters 503rd Parachute RCT 

Answered furnished by John Lindgren

Where is Suicide Cliff?

Well, it's not where the guides say it is (above Wheeler Point,) that's for sure.  Whilst Japanese did jump from cliffs, bodies from the top of the cliffs at Wheeler Point would hardly have landed on the beach, which is where reliable reports place them.

 

There isn't one.  On the morning of February 19, 1945 the D Company soldiers who survived the night at Wheeler Point removed nearly 300 bodies of Japanese soldiers they had killed during the terrible night battle. There was no way the company, probably then less than 70 able bodied men, could have shoveled in the hard ground to bury the corpses. Instead they simply carried the dead Japanese marines and dropped them over the cliff 10 meters south of Wheeler Point.  I can see how there had come to be some explanation for the remains found on the sheer cliff but the reasoning is dead wrong. The name appears to have been attributable to the black hand of history, less than careful scholarship.  Members of D Coy refer to the place as Banzai Cliff.

John Lindgren
D Coy, 503rd PCT

"Suicide Cliff" is a fairy tale.  I was one of the most active of troopers in the so-called two platoons who were assigned to heave the bodies of the killed Japanese soldiers early on the morning after the 19 February.  I never saw a single Japanese "leap" over the cliff or any sign that any had done so during the night attack.   Any of them that ended on the beach either fell during the attack (which is pure speculation) or were thrown over.

One of us would grab the feet and another the arms and swing them over as far as we could. I believe this was done to reduce the smell of decaying bodies in that tropical setting, if that was ever possible. We were so desperate to get this chore over with that I can't even recall any of us worrying in the least with searching their bodies for souvenirs or even military information. I hope this sets to rest this small item once and for all, brochures notwithstanding.

Tony Sierra
"D" Coy 503rd PCT

But there were cliff suicides, weren't there?

Yes.   On or about Feb 20  I was with a partial squad of engineers assigned to an infantry company unit. We were patrolling the beach when one of the scouts reported enemy activity on the beach below Wheeler point.  The officer in charge cautioned us not to make noise and to keep out of sight while he and the scouts moved forward to assess the situation. When the officer returned, he spoke softly, admonishingly.

He stated that a large number of Japanese soldiers had jumped from the cliffs near Wheeler point in an act of mass suicide. The patrol was motioned to move forward cautiously. I noted that some of the bodies sprawled on the rocks were alive. I examined the general appearance of some of the bodies and noted that some were wearing clean white socks and were not armed, nor were they wearing any ammo belts. They were, for a combat operation, rather clean, almost as if they had participated in a ceremonial activity of washing and preparing to die.

I do not for a minute dispute John Lindgren's account of disposing of the bodies because of the impracticability of burying the dead on "Topside." But I do believe that some of the Japanese soldiers jumped to their death from that point.

Answer furnished by Robert J. Flynn
"C" Coy, 161st Para Engineers

How many Japanese were killed in retaking the Rock?

We don't know exactly. It altogether depends upon how many were on the island in  January 1945, when the pre-invasion bombardment commenced.  Post invasion estimates tend to agree that there were between 6000 and 7,000.  

A better question would be 'How many survived?'

We know the answer to that. About 40. The regiment captured 20, but one of them was killed after he attacked and nearly throttled Harry Akune,  a Nisei interrogator who was questioning him. 20 holdouts surrendered New Years Day 1946. Not surprisingly, these are referred to as 'The New Year's Day Twenty.'   The US Navy picked up several prisoners as they tried to swim from the island.   This number is not known by me.   I found one of them in, of all places, Santa Monica, California. He was a petty officer with the suicide boat that was kept in caves at Enlisted Men's beach at Bottomside. The 7,000 figure  is probably correct.  I have correspondence from some of the Japanese Corregidor survivors.  Several years ago they stopped letters to me at the request (as far as I can gather) from the department that is responsible for veterans affairs.   I was told by Mr. K. Ishikawa to send letters through official channels. His outfit was made up, among others, of sailors whose ships had been sunk, servicemen released from hospitals; they had one rifle between four men. Sure enough he was stationed at Bottomside where the amphibious attack was sure to come.  Luckily for him, he was in Engineer ravine at the power plant; the landing came on South Beach.  The Japanese veteran's Association may well be the agency that furnished the official strength figure of 6850. I essentially had four survivors names and at least two of them used this figure.

Answered furnished by John Lindgren,
"D" Co. 503rd RCT

How many 503rd Paratroopers were killed on Corregidor?  And elsewhere?

I have compiled a list of names of 348 men of the 503rd PIR and RCT killed during WW2. The locations are:

Mindoro

1

Pt. Moresby

1

Biak

2

Gordonvale (Australia)

2

Paluan

2

Nadzab

11

Noemfoor

41

Negros

97

Corregidor

171

Unknown

19

Other figures from Bennett Guthrie's "Three Winds of Death" gives a figure of 163 killed on Corregidor with 7 missing, and Templeton's book "Return to Corregidor" lists 169. His list failed to list Pfc Frank M. Dugan and Robert L. Dunn,  so 171 seems to be very close, if not exact.

Bennett Guthrie states a total of 144 killed on Negros, and the S-3 of RMQ states a total of 117 KIA by 12 June 1945. Both figures are far above the names on my list, even of the 19 Unknown locations are added. Presumedly most of those 19 will have been killed as a result of the Negros mission.

My listing of the Corregidor casualties appears elsewhere on this website.

 The Corregidor Casualty List

My listing of the WWII casualties also appears.

 The WWII Casualty List

Answered furnished by Don Abbott

Were any 503d 'troopers captured and tortured by the Japanese? Q: My late uncle Henry was a paratrooper during WWII. In 1942 he volunteered for the First Special Service Force and went on to fight with them in Italy and Southern France. His first unit eventually went to the Pacific to fight the Japanese. He said that one of his friends from his old unit was captured and tortured to death at some point during the war. Could there be any truth to this story?

Dean Buske

A: I have not collected any stories about 503d troopers captured and tortured to death. Whilst some 503d individuals were not seen alive on Corregidor, it is unlikely they were captured and tortured to death.  The Japanese did bayonet men hanging in their parachutes. A number of bodies about which nothing is known, other than their mortal wounds,  were found in trees,  undergrowth, or near buildings.    There is an instance where the Japanese took possession of two American KIA’s (whose bodies were never found) though nothing appeared to come of it.

Paul Whitman

A: I know of no 503rd trooper who was captured and tortured on Corregidor, or elsewhere. There was a rumor on Noemfoor that a "E" Company man captured and tortured for several days before being killed and cannibalized. I don't believe this simply because I never met a man from "E" Company who believed it. In the 503rd, we were particular to recover the bodies of our dead. Every time a body was left there was hell to play, and you went back and brought out the body. I was sent north from Hill 395 July 19, to protect a litter party sent to  recover the body of Anchor of "E" Company. Ben Luscomb was to guide us. After a brief action, we came to several trails not on our map. Ben was unable to determine where to go, so we returned to the company. The body was found several days later. We were ordered never to leave a body, and found that the order better be obeyed.

William T. Calhoun

A: One incident that Henry Buske might have been recalling is the 503d mission on Noemfoor Island in Dutch New Guinea. We made a jump on the island on July 4, 1944. On August 12th "H" engaged in a very rough firefight. We were overwhelmed by a great number of enemy and had to relinquish some ground . It was late in afternoon and darkness arrived as we were digging in and for the night. Some men were missing.

Late on the night of the 12th several "H" men in the hastily set-up perimeter reported hearing screams. The screams lasted over an extended period of time – maybe two hours.

At dawn we moved out to re-engage the enemy.. The Japs had pulled out during the night but left the sliced up bodies of Shaw, Marion, and Geyer. They were carved up like animals in a slaughter house…All the fleshy parts were gone – thighs, buttocks, arms, and lower legs.

Later in the day we were once again in firefights. Some of the Japanese casualties had the flesh of our men in their mess kits

James Mullaney

 A: I am well aware that the Japanese soldiers were under the control of their own drummers. There were atrocities perpetrated by Japanese soldiers on Filipino and American soldiers and civilians. Most of these outrageous acts were committed by Japanese soldiers on captive civilian and combat soldiers. How badly invading troops were treated was dependant on how long they remained in the front line of combat. Since the time-lapse period of the 503rd's jump on to Corregidor was only three weeks duration, the savaging of the enemy (from both viewpoints) was practically nil. It seemed to me that when the Japanese soldiers were harried and frustrated by the American soldiers, they took their own life. On a patrol of the beach at Corregidor during the first few days of the invasion, we came across several hundred Japanese soldiers who had jumped to their death from the topside of Corregidor 500 feet above the beach.

Bob Flynn
503d Official Historian
 

 

 

 

 

         

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