Based on the letters of Earl Philip Reinhalter (1922-1953). Edited by his son, Earl Philip Reinhalter (1950-).
|<- PREVIOUS LETTER||December 6-8, 1944: Jap Paratrooper Attack
San Pablo, Leyte, Philippines
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At the time of the attack, Manila was still under Japanese control. A different view of the battle was promoted in the December 8, 1944, issue of The Tribune, published on the third anniversary (on Japan’s side of the International Date Line) of the Pearl Harbor attack and what they called the Greater East Asia War. Headlines announced, “Japanese Air-Borne Troops Land on Enemy Bases in Leyte” and “‘Troops From Skies’ Engage U.S. Forces At Enemy Airfields.”
The opening lead: “Landing from the air on the American airfields on Leyte Island on the night of December 6, members of the Japanese Takahiro air-borne unit launched a close-range attack on the enemy at the points, according to an announcement issued by the Imperial General Headquarters at 2:30 p.m. today.” Photos showed paratroopers boarding a plane and seated inside.
It was apparently during this battle that my father earned his Purple Heart. According to family lore, a bullet grazed his temple. His sister Yvonne told me that he didn’t say much about it in his letters because he didn’t want the family to worry about him, and that even after he returned home from the war, it was some time before he discussed it.
Information about other casualties has been difficult to find. My request for squadron records from the National Personnel Records Center was repeatedly delayed. Every time I asked for a status update, the “estimated date of completion” was pushed back by several more months. Then the process came to a complete halt when the coronavirus pandemic shut down operations there altogether. As of this writing, eighteen months after my initial request, I’m still waiting.
One clue is in my father’s letter of April 29, 1945. Concerning a Jap infiltrator who was killed at his base, he said: “I was glad to see a Jap killed. It kind of makes up for one of my buddies who wasn’t so lucky one time at my old base.” That seemed to imply that at least one person in his unit was killed.
Additionally, Leonard Stringfield, editor of The Squadron Pulse newsletter, mentioned in the captions in his personal photo album the names of three soldiers who were “later killed”: Sgt. Robles, Al Radler and George Hoffstead. He noted that Radler died on December 7, 1944.
The battle also took an emotional toll on the men, as my father’s letter of May 27, 1945, noted:
As the war was ending, the editor of The Squadron Pulse newsletter conducted a brief survey of the men in the unit (September 16, 1945, issue):“After the Jap paratroop invasion, some of the other boys were sent home with shattered nerves. Some of the guys don’t seem to be able to take it. They just crack up mentally when the going gets really rough. I have seen some soldiers tied down with ropes in an ambulance. They had gone completely wild. Mentally cracked - battle fatigue.”
Below are two photos that my father mailed home.“The first question asked, ‘What in your opinion was the 3rd's roughest experience?’ The second question, ‘What was the roughest personal experience or when most scared?’
“REINHALTER: The 3rd’s roughest experience was, without a doubt, the Jap paratroop incident at San Pablo, Leyte, Dec 6, ‘44. 2. My roughest personal experience was in connection with that mentioned above.”
NOW AVAILABLE AS A KINDLE BOOK!
The Kindle book includes the letters; all 23 issues of the unit’s wartime newsletter “The Squadron Pulse,” which was originally edited by Leonard Stringfield; all 12 issues of the “Pennant Parade” newsletter that Stringfield published while sailing home after the war; complete text of the U.S. government booklet “Pocket Guide to Australia,” which soldiers heading Down Under were given to read; more than 200 photos; pre-war and postwar family history; and over 700 explanatory endnotes.
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This page established: October 6, 2020 Last updated: February 23, 2023
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