On Oct., 24, 1944, as a bulldozer operator with the 1897th Aviation Engineering Battalion, I landed at Dulag, Leyte, in a fog of smoke from constant 40 mm and 20 mm canon firing at Japanese planes overhead.
What we did not know was that this was the day of the big attack by the Japanese fleet to wipe out (Gen. Douglas) MacArthur's landing on Leyte.
The Japanese attacked with some of their largest ships, and all their aircraft. Admiral Halsey, with the bulk of the U.S. Navy, had gone chasing a decoy Japanese fleet.
The only naval forces left to protect the Leyte landing were escort carriers, destroyers and PT boats. The Japanese battleships, cruisers and destroyers soon sank some U.S. escort carriers, and the Navy planes were looking for a place to land.
Never miss a local story.
The Tacloban strip became overcrowded with planes so the Navy planes started landing on the Dulag strip. This was a Japanese-built strip, covered with grass turf, barely suitable for lightweight Japanese planes and good only for emergency landings by heavy American planes.