Heroes: the Army
"...Pop, a flare went up, and when it exploded it spread light on two figures I could see in the glare, ninety feet away. I swung my BAR up quickly to my shoulder, pulled the trigger and fired the entire magazine at them; and that was twenty rounds in six seconds. Wow..."
William R. Hill
- Branch of Service: Army
- Unit: M. Co, 382nd Regt, 96th "Deadeye" Division
- Dates: 1944-1946
- Location: Pacific Theater
- Rank: T/5
- Birth Year: 1926
- Entered Service: Indianapolis, IN
Once a Deadeye, Always a Deadeye
© copyright William R. Hill 2002
By William R. Hill
Photo Page and Additional Material...
Image #1: Bill Hill in basic training
Image #2: Bill Hill in formal photo
Image #3: Alton, Anderson and Bill
Image #4: Ben Pentacurin and Bill
Image #5: Ken Morgan and Bill
Image #6: Bill at Intramoros in Manila, 1946
Image #7: Bill Hill in recent photo
Image #8: Bill Hill memoir support team
Additional Material Related to Bill's Story...
After my division went home in December, I was bounced around here and there. I ended up with a cushy spot in the Public Relations Office of the 86th Blackhawk Division.
I had an opportunity in March of 1946 to take a newspaper position with the Daily Pacifican, the largest local Army daily newspaper. The Army Brass in Manila fired the staff already in place there. Our unit in the 86th Division was chosen to replace the present staff, because of our diverse qualities of the men on the Blackhawk Bugle staff. I took the job.
We walked into a strange old building early one morning to a tall spacious room. There were a few open desks back to back, with scattered papers about. I was working with men I had only met about an hour ago. One guy was in charge. We had to somehow put out the newspaper from that day on, so we scrambled to get things done. It was really hectic. I jumped right in. We developed plans as we went. It was touch and go for a while, we worked long hours, and we made it work. No one took breaks and we staggered hours going to chow. We were busy seven days a week and we fell into a comfortable routine that the brass liked.
I didn't have a set job at first but pitched in by reading the typed articles and writing the headlines. I also helped type and make corrections and counted letters line by line to get the correct number of lines, for the final paste-up used by the civilian typesetters who made up pages one at a time. This setup was all spaced out with lead chunks' just like I learned how to do back in high school print shop. Each page was set up in a frame about one inch thick and every thing was carefully hammered into position. From this they made a rounded paper mold of each sheet. This was set in the presses for printing.
The newspaper we produced was well accepted and had a circulation of about 45,000 daily and also featured a special Sunday edition. We were now in the "I and E "Detachment of AFWESPAC, Armed Forces Western Pacific Command APO 707. I had a new shoulder patch to wear. On my other shoulder I wore my old favorite double diamond Deadeye Patch. Lt .Archibald our very able Commanding Officer was a West Point graduate, who led by a friendly intellect; not dumb discipline.
The Army retained the services of civilian Filipino men that were employed by the Army to assist the staff. These men did a lot of the typing and the handled a lot of the manual projects. They all spoke perfect English and were a big help. I had a favorite question I often asked men here and there while I was in the service. It was: what is the difference between the word ambiguous and equivocal? I finally found someone who knew the answer, and it was one of the Filipinos in our staff. He was better versed in English than many Americans I knew.
Our staff was located in a dingy old factory type building down a back street out a ways from downtown. Our office in the building was near the pressroom. During the war the Japanese used these same presses to print their occupation money. The presses were old and noisy. When a roller became worn they were repaired efficiently. They simply scraped the rubber compound off the central rod, heated them into a molten mass and then poured a new roller around it.
This move was necessary because the Army Brass of AFWESPAC felt reporters on the staff of the Daily Pacifican were being far too aggressive in their pursuit of their own agenda. One issue the reporters had been harping on was the presence of weevils found in the Army barrels of baking flour. After this was confirmed, the Army agreed to alleviate the situation by simply adding new flour to the old contaminated flour, and thereby cutting down the percentage of weevils. We really didn't know we were eating them.
The war was over, and because of that these reporters staunchly held on to the idea that the United States was maintaining a larger force in the Pacific than was needed. However in the larger perspective, and in their defense, I feel that the State Department may have wanted this for a strong military presence in the area, and as there were many issues in the area still in flux, our presence may have been vital for our country until the area in the larger Pacific stabilized, especially with the Russian presence.
These reporters had researched these issues and subsequently promoted their positions. They referred to the lack of ships leaving Philippine ports and those leaving with empty berths, which supported their reasoning. They even had pictures showing empty berths. Thousands of troops from our area remained in the Philippines, and this activity they said, if the aforementioned facts weren't true, that this inaction smacked of inefficiency, and poor planning. This was a very important issue to my buddies and me because we all wanted to get home as soon as possible.
These persistent editorials effectively needled the brass too long to stomach. They undoubtedly thought that it not only could this erupt into a morale issue, if continued and so they didn't want these ideas to escalate and possibly embarrass them. Subsequently the brass fired this staff the first thing one morning, shipped them out into different units, and moved us en-mass into their desks.
We had our sleeping quarters in tents with wooden floors right along side the Rizal Baseball Stadium in the Pasay province of Manila. It was set aside from other sites and not the typical Army Base. We also had jeeps of our own to get back and forth and after hours if we wanted them. The food was good and otherwise pleasant surroundings with no quarters inspections to deal with. We hired Filipinos to do our laundry and clean our quarters. We really had it made. Some local officer in charge of the facilities tried to give us a hard time about all these privileges, not having inspections, and our lack of doing the menial jobs, but Lt Archibald stuck up for us told him to leave us alone; we had more important jobs. (Finally we had class.)
There were many good men on our newspaper staff, and we all got along really well. Most of us had no professional writing experience. We just used our natural talents. Our photographers did have prior experience and it was apparent. They were provided with good cameras and a dark room. Our Editor was Alan Agol and rose to that position from the ranks as many other of the rest of us did. Glazer was our engraver that processed the photographs and also our pressroom liaison man. Do to his aggressive demeanor rose to a much higher rank too. He really pressed hard for his rank. Allan Kanter was a reporter; Gabe Burton was the Sunday Editor and Austin Lynn one of my reporters. Thomas Woebke was a reporter and my drinking buddy. We had one ingenious photographer who rigged up a ham radio from spare parts. Lt Archibald did advance a lot of the men in rank and for the most part we all deserved the new stripes. After he gave me mine I was reluctant to sew them on my uniform and he reminded me that I needed to put mine on.
Our offices were eventually moved to real nice offices on the third floor of the Roces Building in downtown Manila. Because of my efforts I was rewarded with the job and title of City Editor and this is why I was promoted from Private First Class, (PFC) to Technician Fifth Grade, by our C.O. Lt. Archibald.
I had the responsibility of covering the local news, which meant I often assigned reporters and/or a photographer to cover an event. I also handled the incoming material the Army provided their news services. I also listed the USO shows in our area, which I never attended because there were movie stars appearing that I never heard of. My assignment also included human-interest articles and numerous photographs that we often used for filler. I also set up the standard notices by the Red Cross and their events and the tours to the Bataan Peninsula where the famous death marches began and Corregidor Island, the last base held by the US Army in the Philippines early in the war. I had the opportunity to see those sites but unfortunately neglected to go.
I did get to go to the Island of Lubang on an assignment for the paper. This island is the main island of a chain of Lubang islands, southeast of Manila, out in Manila Bay. The Philippine Scouts were in a hostile skirmish with Japanese soldiers still in hiding there a year or so later that had refused to surrender.
I left Luzon with two other men on a fast navy crash boat one morning, and that was quite an experience bouncing on the waves at forty or so knots. I was soon on ship out in the harbor that had taken on board the prisoners. I saw some of the wounded and bloodied Philippine Scouts. This is the name of the Pilipino Army.
When I landed on the island I saw several grass shacks nearby and a brick school building in the center. I was surprised as it looked like a primary school back home. I went inside and enjoyed seeing several rows of seats and a large American flag up above the blackboard. Our forces were using this building for headquarters.
It was getting late and the situation was well in hand. I wanted to get back to the ship right away so I joined others took a very small Navy craft back. It was dark. We were out in the bay going full force towards the ship in high tide when we suddenly crashed on a submerged coral reef, and couldn't get our craft off. We were fortunate because we had a small battery powered lantern with us. The sailors aboard did not know how to signal to the ship, so I did. I knew Morse code from back in high school. I told them by code that we were stuck and needed help by flipping the light on and off. They responded with a lot of K's. I thought that was strange, but I learned that the K was short for OK which meant they had received the message.
It was in a very scary situation getting back to the ship in the little alternate craft they provided as the water was choppy and was splashing over the sides. We were busy dipping with our hands and we had no life preservers and I did not know how to swim. I was scared that I was going to drown. It was pitch dark except that the ship had a large blinding searchlight trained on us and we could not look straight ahead. I was greatly relieved to get my hand on the net and climb aboard. I saw some bloodied Filipinos on board.
The story? We missed getting our coverage back in time. When I got back the newsroom the article was already prepared to print. A commercial reporter had forwarded the information about the Lubang incident to the wire services. The Filipino Scouts did bring the hiding Japanese soldiers back; however both sides took several casualties.
That wasn't the only story we missed. The Philippine Islands were granted their Independence on July 4th 1946. Manuel Quezon, the former President of the Philippines, had escaped from the Philippines when the Japanese forces invaded his country early in the war. However he died in the United States during the war. We honored him and his country and brought his body back on July 4th at the time of their celebration.
As a member of the press we wanted to get a story and pictures. However as we were not professionals we did not have the right connections to access the leaders during the official ceremonies nor be in the right place for pictures, consequently our group was locked in a slow traffic jam six lanes wide seemingly going nowhere, and that is how we missed it.
One story we did not miss was the marriage of one of the top command officers in the Manila area. He wanted coverage in the paper so he invited the members of the staff there to take pictures of the reception. It was held in the Army-Navy Club and was a gala event with a lot of the brass in attendance. Our newspaper crew was given special treatment in an all officer environment. We were invited to partake of the freebee drinks at the bar. Our paper ended up having a nice spread for him.
When we could we took advantage of every freebee we could. Whenever the members of the "fifth estate," i.e. the press, were offered invitations to attend a function, we tagged along for the goodies. Our CO was probably amused at our actions, knowing what we were doing.
One time I attended such a meal for the press, which was a seven course Filipino cuisine, at a nice downtown restaurant. We always stood out in a civilian crowd in our khaki uniforms, and I often wondered if they felt we were an intrusion in their party. The event dragged on one course at time, with speakers droning in between. I was beginning to wonder why I had tagged along, however I was finally rewarded, because the dessert was a Chinese delegacy; Bird's Nest Soup. It had a thick soupy texture, which I found somewhat lumpy. It was a translucent mixture, and like warm tapioca, and without much flavor. I later learned that the soup is made by scraping the bird nests from caves found in China, then boiling the mixture down to a desired thickness and straining off the twigs.
One of the very nicest of the excursions of our staff was to an island owned by businessman who owned a large fish hatchery. About three of us soldiers gathered on a dock and awaited the boat. It was a flat-bottomed wooden unwieldy craft about twenty feet long and held about ten people. It was rowed to this island in the middle of a lake about 60 yards from the shore. Upon arriving we were handed a "fish on a stick," which had been baked. It was a type of milkfish and had been browned and basted. It was delicious. It was a little strange eating it off a stick. We were invited to partake of food provided lavishly for the guests, displayed on two long tables about thirty feet long. There was a canopy of large banana leaves overhead and the table was also covered with banana leaves. As I remember there was a lot of variety food, which consisted of pork, chicken, rice and fruit. They had warm San Migual beer for those interested. We had no entertainment, just a lot of food bestowed on the visitors. The highlight of the boat rides was the presence a very attractive young Filipino girl with large entrancing eyes.
I stayed with the newspaper until I left to go home for in September of 1946.
----- William R. Hill
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To read any of the three parts of the story by Mr. Hill
("Once a Deadeye, Always a Deadeye", please click on a link below...
Once a Deadeye, Always a Deadeye, William R. Hill
Once a Deadeye, Always a Deadeye, William R. Hill, Pt #2
Once a Deadeye, Always a Deadeye, William R. Hill, Pt #3
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The material is re-printed here on World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words with the kind permission of Mr. William R. Hill.
Material contained within this narrative is ©Copywrited by Mr. William R. Hill and cannot be reproduced without his permission and the permission of this website.
Our sincerest THANKS to Mr. Hill for allowing us to share these excellent memories.
Original Story submitted on 29 July 2007.
Story added to website on 1 August 2007.
September 5, 2002.
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