Each year, at this time, I reflect, as many do, on how lucky I am to live in a country where freedom is its signature. That liberty would not be possible without the courage and fortitude of the men and women of the United States Military Forces.
Standing among those honorable Americans was my father, Charles M McCurry. Dad joined the Army in 1943, shortly after graduating from Franklin College. Towards the end of “boot camp” he volunteered for Paratrooper School, and was accepted.
After training was complete, dad was assigned to the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regimental Combat Team (RCT). He was a member of the ‘E’ Company, and was eventually selected for a secret operation, to recapture the Philippine Island of Corregidor. The mission was initiated on February 16, 1945.
Historians write the assault on Corregidor was the most intense combat action in which the 503rd engaged during its existence. Braving intense fire, the paratroopers rushed forward and overcame the heavy blockhouse defenses, dropping explosives into embrasures to kill hidden Japanese gunners. For its successful capture of Corregidor, the unit was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation (US) and received its nickname, “the Rock Regiment” from it.
“How do I explain why I volunteered to jump out of an airplane? … The first time I ever rode in an airplane I jumped out of the damned thing.” — Charles McCurry (reflecting on his first jump)
According to dad, it took three weeks to complete the mission, and by that time, nearly all the Japanese soldiers were killed, except for the very few that were captured. More than 250 men on the RCT lost their lives, and many more were injured. In dad’s squad alone ( he was squad leader), three died.
Here is a video I found that briefly documents the 503rd’s experience at Corregidor:
I personally have no idea what it must be like to participate in combat, as I have no military experience. I do know I have the greatest respect and admiration for anyone that has served our country so courageously, and unselfishly, to protect our borders.
My dad never spoke to me, or anyone else (as far as I know), about his experiences of WWII. Throughout his post-war life, he suffered with episodes of recurrent Malaria, an unfortunate badge he carried, as a haunting reminder of the jungles of the south pacific. I can only imagine some of the nightmares he must have had. Finally, in 1985 he wrote his memoirs, and attempted to characterize his view of the war.
“Please know this will be the one and only time I will try to describe the jungle and fighting Japs. I don’t have the words, and the script writer and movie director can’t recreate it… It was a lousy experience and I have not yet met a man who said he liked it!” — From Charles McCurry Memoirs, 1985
After Corregidor, dad’s RCT went on to Los Negroes, for one final combat mission, which was difficult, but successful. My father received several battlefield commissions, and a letter of commendation, for his leadership, bravery and accomplishments during his military service. At discharge, he was promoted to the rank of 1st Lieutenant. I am very proud of him.
You see, without men and women like dad, you and I would not enjoy the freedoms we are privileged to enjoy today. With the evil intentions, and horrific acts committed by the Nazis, and the Japanese, in WWII, can you imagine how different our society would be today, if they had prevailed. The thought of that possibility sends a chill up my spine.
God Bless America, and thank you to each member of the United States Military Forces protecting us! No Words can convey the depth of our appreciation for what you have done for our country.