After a few months, we were transferred up to the island of Luzon north of Manila, to a place called Subic Bay. The bay was packed with ships, and all the land around the bay was full of men. They took us out to a rice patty with water standing a foot or so deep, and said, this is your assigned area. Our Skipper did not complain. We built raised walkways, and wooden deck platforms for our tents, and moved into them. We put up a sign over the walkway into our camp that said, “Welcome to 34th Naval Regiment Amphibious Operation.” An interesting aside at this point is to mention that I was camped out at Subic less than a mile from where my friend Paul Silber was so badly wounded less than a year earlier.
What got me through all these months in WW II in the Pacific were letters from Charlotte. I know it is hard to believe, but she wrote me a letter every day that we were apart. I did not get mail regularly and sometimes, I would get ten letters or more at one time. I cherished every one of them, and read them over and over. I wrote her quite often, but she far out did me in that department.
The men all wanted some souvenirs to take home and I heard about some Negrito Pygmies up on the North part of Luzon so I loaded my jeep with mattress covers and cigarettes and headed North. I had a general idea where they were in talking with one of the men who had seen them. After several hours of winding around always trying to head toward a volcano I expected to find them near I finally ran into one of them. I was standing by the trail with a bow and arrow in his hands watching me.
I stopped and gave him a big”me friend” smile and showed him my mattress covers and cigarettes. I then pointed to his bow and arrows and again to my trading goods. He got the message and took a carton of cigs and gave me his bow and arrows, which I still have. By this time he was also smiling and he gave me a sort of stay here sign with his hands and disappeared into the forest. After a short time he comes back with about five or six others with bows, arrows and several Japanese rifles. Their arrows were all sizes. Small ones for small game and fish. They also had rather large ones that they had killed a number of Japanese with. That is where they got the rifles. I left with a Jeep Load of loot but no more cigarettes or mattress covers. I kept one of the rifles and gave the rest to the officers and men at my camp.
Photo of Negrito warriors found here.