ASOM visitors

14 Mar

Airborne museum  October 28, 2013.  Charlie wrote this at the age of ninety, on the news his artifact would be at ASOM.iphone1 135

This is about a raggedy handful of Army parachute panels. Mine. They did their job over Luzon PI and now will be cared for at the Airborne and Special Ops museum. They are in fine company; kindly spirits walk the streets of Fayetteville. My chute and I met on a stormy night with high winds whistling and the promise of a rotten tomorrow. My chute was one of the sopping pile of twisted laundry, sitting under the wing of a c-47 delivery wagon. The sergeant yelled. “Grab one, any one and be on with it. They’re all the same”. That’s not true and every paratrooper who has experienced a blown chute or a streamer or a ripped harness will tell you so. “There’s an unlucky one in every thousand, you might pick a winner”. We were on Mindoro by ship, delivered over a savage typhoon and thirty foot waves. We had not eaten for three days, nor did our toilets work. We were vacuum sealed and what we owned went overboard with our barracks bags. We lived to tell.                     After Leyte, hell was a vacation. Skies were clear. A homesick kid played sad songs on a harmonica. On the morrow, we would land on Luzon, Tagatay Ridge overlooking the Lake Taal volcano. The news was mixed: three friends were killed in the first wave at Nasugbu. On the good side, the first wave of the 511th had little resistance. We loaded our gear. One trooper I did not know had a chute malfunction and i saw him for only a second as he plowed the dirt. He had done his duty. Our drop would have been perfect had we not been dropped in the wrong zone, out of formation,at too high a speed and we were loaded like mules. “Get weaponry on the ground as fast as you can.” Whatever we hit, shattered. I was impaled on a rotten corn stalk, paralyzed. It took a minute to see my problem and my knife cut me free. Horrors! Filipinos came from everywhere to gather up the parachutes and turn them into peace loving rayon. .. which they turned into ladies underwear and white shirts with an embroidery of a Chinese dragon. I bought one and somebody stole it. They demanded American cigarettes. “we got MacCarthur’s “i have return”. They stink. Company B entered Paranaque and paid too much for the privilege. We were also first to land in Japan… before the surrender. Neat trick.                                                                                      Meanwhile, i rolled up the blown panels and cut them free. They would become my portable air conditioner soaked in water and stayed with me through Manila, Mt Malepunyo, McKinley, Los Banos, Santo Tomas and Aparri. In the finale, they served me all the way to Japan where we wrote more names. Their work was done. What to do when there’s nothing to d? I drew pictures on them and collected more signatures. I got most of them, though, though a lot of us did not do well: the enemy, sickness and wounds took their share. We wish our men peace wherever they are. We wish, too, that they could be with us. They delivered on their promise. Airborne all the way. They delivered.



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