Philip H. Nast

NAST, Philip H.

Birth Date: 1923

Army Serial Number: 12066158

Enlistment Date:  25 May 1942

My Battalion was pulled off the line at Zig Zag Pass in Luzon, Philippine Islands on or about 5 February 1945. We were surprised at the move because, although we had taken casualties in the four days we had engaged the Japanese at the Pass, our losses were nowhere near as heavy as were the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 34th-Infantry Regimental combat team. We walked the ten or twelve miles to the town of Olongapo; from which we had driven the Japs late in January. 

After the platoon leaders had seen to the "comfort" of their men, the officers were called to a Battalion officers meeting. There Col. Postlethwait informed us that our Battalion was to attack and recapture the Island of Corregidor- The assault force would include one Battalion of the 503 Parachute Infantry. The troopers would jump into the Top Side of the Island about 1 hour before our units would land at the South Dock.

 The Colonel informed us that the 3rd Battalion had been selected for the operation because we had been the least hard hit at Zig Zag Pass. The other two Battalions had sustained too many casualties.

LT. Cain, I Company Commander, told me to take my platoon to Grande Island, a small Island in Subic Bay, and to instruct the men in my platoon in the use of the flame thrower and the bazooka. Most of the men in our company were new replacements that had joined us on board ship as we moved to assault Luzon, on January 19th. We would also have time to allow the men to zero their rifles, something they had not had the opportunity to do before they went into combat. It was believed that the Japanese would be well dug in on Corregidor so that bazookas, flame throwers, and satchel charges would be required. In the course of the day I was able to give limited instruction to the men in my platoon and we rejoined the company. 

While we waited for the order to move to the port area, my platoon conducted, as did the other platoons, patrols to insure that the Japanese did not infiltrate our lines.

On or about the 8th of February, another officers’ meeting was held in a room that had drapes over the Windows and sentries outside the house. Col. Postlethwait again cautioned all not to reveal our objective until we were on board ship. At that time, we would meet with our platoons and tell each man of our mission. He further informed us that intelligence reported that the Japanese were evacuating the Island so that the 15 hundred paratroopers and our Battalion of 1,500 men would be more than enough to overrun the Island in a day or so. That thereafter, we would garrison the Island for a month or two at which time we would receive replacements and train. (So much for military intelligence a true oxymoron. It took 10 days to secure the Island. Over 5,000 Japanese were killed and we filled the Hospital Ship Hope the first day of the operation.)  Prior to moving to the port area, I was ordered to go to Regimental headquarters to pick up the mail for my company. When I go to the Regiment, it seemed that everyone there knew that our outfit was going to Corregidor. So much for security. The men who did not know where they were going were the men who were going there. 

On February 12, LT Cain told me to go to the port area, find the LST that would transport the Battalion and act as loading officer. I WAS SCARED!!! I didn't know a damn thing about boats and all I could picture was the boat I loaded getting to the middle of Subic Bay and capsizing killing all the men on board. I reported to the skipper of the boat and told him I was the loading officer and that I knew nothing about boats. He had one of his men give me a six pack of beer and suggested that I stay out of the way. WHICH I WAS ONLY TOO HAPPY TO D0!!!!

The Battalion boarded the ship on the 13th and we sailed on the 14th. The trip south to Mariveles was uneventful except that the men in my platoon complained because instead of a good breakfast, rumor had it the Navy always ate well, they were served beans. It appears that there is or was a Navy tradition, at least on that boat, that on Wednesday and Saturday beans were served for breakfast.

We arrived at Mariveles early on the 15th and left the ship via cargo nets and LCVPs. Mariveles, at the tip of Bataan was where the American and Filipino prisoners started on the Death March that resulted in the death of many of the POWs.

We dug in on the beach. That night Japanese speed boats that had mines attached attempted to sink the American ships that were in Manila Bay. As a result, we were kept awake most of the night by the sound of the Navy gunfire, some of which flew over our heads but we took no casualties.

Corregidor invasion February 15 1945

Philip H- Nast
1st. Lt. I Company
34th Infantry Reqt.
24th. Infantry Division
At about 0600 on February 16, 1945, we entered the assault boats by platoons, one platoon to an LCVP. We left the dock at Marivales by companies in the order that we were to hit the beach. I Company was in the second or third wave as I recall. My boat joined the other three from my company, went a distance into Manila Bay and proceeded to circle while the other companies loaded up and joined us. The boats from each company formed its own circle and awaited the signal to start for the beach.

Corregidor is a small island, about 2 miles long and 1/2 mile wide; it is shaped like a tadpole with its head, which is also the high ground, facing toward the entrance to the Bay. Near the center of the island is a hill, Malinta hill, which contained a large tunnel often referred to as the hospital tunnel.
We were to hit the beach at 1000 hours. As we circled, the small Higgins Boats bobbed in the heavy swells giving the allusion that we were riding some adult version of an out of control merry-go-round upon which none of us really wished to take a ride but because of circumstances beyond our control we were there. Men tended not to focus their eyes on anyone or thing but each seemed to be locked in his own thought with his eyes looking inward.

At about 0930, one of them men said, "Here they come”. He was referring to a battalion of the 503 Parachute Regiment which was to jump onto the high ground and thus take the pressure off us as we landed at South dock. On the left flank of the beach was the High Ground on the right flank was Malinta Hill. Colonel Postlethwait, our Battalion Commander told us at our briefing that we were not to stop for wounded.  That unless we managed to get off the beach and take the high ground at Malinta Hill we would be sitting ducks on the beach. 

We starred in awe as the troopers spilled out of their planes and fell a short distance before their shoots opened. That is the lucky ones had their shoots open. Some of the shoots were streamers. 

While this was taking place, the navy continued to rake the Island with fire from its heavy guns. Simultaneously, aircraft hit the island-with rockets, bombs and napalm. I observed an LST equipped with rockets turn parallel to the beach and fire a broadside from its rocket launches. A section of the beach, at least the size of a football field, turned black as the rockets exploded. The vessel reversed its course and repeated the devastating salvo.

At about this time, someone noticed that some of the paratroopers were over shooting the drop zone and falling into the sea. That problem was corrected when the transport planes began to drop seven rather than ten men on each pass.

On the western tip of the Island, there was a small spit of land on which the Japs had placed some sort of anti-aircraft weapon. It was delivering heavy fire on the transport planes as they flew lover overhead, one of our destroyers slowly approached the spit of land and from a distance of 500 yards or so fired three rounds. When the smoke cleared there was no longer a gun nor a spit of land.

I felt my boat straighten out and begin its run for the beach. I gave the command to lock and load. As the boats approached the beach, they increased their speed. There was no sound other than the roar of the motor none spoke. The men crouched low fearful that we might take fire from the shore. I began to yawn and was unable to stop no matter what I did. I was not tired. Far from it my adrenalin was surging but the yawning persisted. I overheard one of the men say to another, "look at the Lt. he's bored". I felt it better to leave him with his mistaken impression rather than tell him exactly how I felt at the time. (Years later in a psychology course I learned that some individuals yawn when frightened, as I was never frightened, I must have been under some sort of stress.)

The sailor in charge of the boat, "yelled hold on" hold on" the boat ground to a halt, the ramp dropped away and we ran like hell to get off the beach. A short distance from the water I found myself approaching a mess of live shells that were strewn all over the ground. I suspect a Jap ammo dump had been hit and the shells were thrown about. My choice was to run straight through the mess trying not to kick one of the shells or to try to run around them, I chose to run straight through them praying all the way. l was lucky.

A few seconds, minutes (who knows, time moves slowly) later, I heard the sound of sharp explosions coming from my right. Without slowing down, I looked in the that direction and found that the noise was caused by the explosion of 20mm rounds that appeared to be coming from the high ground on the left flank of the beach. The gun had the beach enfiladed. The rounds were exploding against the side of Mallnta Hlll. At that moment, had someone put stop watch on me, I suspect that I might have broken the four minute mile wearing combat boots and carrying a full pack. I prayed harder. My luck held.

I hit the sand behind a slight rise that may have been 150 yards or so from the water s edge. As I peered over the top of the slope, I noticed a platoon of Americans just going around the far end of Malinta Hill. I gathered two of my squads, one squad was missing. I told the squad leaders to disperse the men while Sgt. Farrel, my platoon sgt., a messenger and I went to the top of the Hill to see what the situation was. It was a steep climb over rubble, but we took no fire and soon found ourselves at the top. We were on top of and just to the right, as you face it, of the entrance to the tunnel that ran back into Malinta Hill. We could see that the mouth of the tunnel was sand bagged and that it had a heavy iron gate partly across the entrance. We saw no sign of the enemy. I saw that the beach was under heavy small arms and mortar fire. As I watched an assault boat plunged to a halt on the left flank of the beach. One man ran from the boat before it pulled back from the shore. (Later in the 54th General Hospital in Hollandia, I was told the boat held the men from Bn. Hq . and the Colonel Postlethwait was the one who got off. The boat had taken heavy fire and had a number of men wounded.) As I looked toward North Dock, I saw a ring of white smoke slowly rise from the ground. It reminded me of the smoke rings my grandfather would blow when he smoked cigars. When I looked toward the beach, I would see an explosion shortly after one of the smoke rings would appear. I assumed that a Jap mortar crew was responsible for the smoke ring and that they were probably being directed from someone on the high ground.

Overhead our planes, F4Us circled. Suddenly we saw a green smoke grenade let loose, as I recall it was green, regardless of the color it was the signal for air support. As we watched, one of the planes began to dive towards the smoke. I suggested to my companions that perhaps it was a good time for us to leave our position, rejoin the rest of the platoon and seek out Lt. Cain, the company commander. All concurred in my decision and we got the hell out of there as fast as we could.

When we arrived at the base of the Hill, a runner was there who informed me that Lt. Cain had need of my platoon. By this time the missing squad had joined us, so we followed the runner to Cain's position. He was behind a hill towards the left flank some distance from the beach. He told me that through his glasses he could see movement some distance up a road that led from our position to Top Side. He said that it was not possible to determine whether the troops he saw were them or us because the paratroops wore a sandy colored uniform not too unlike what the Japs wore. My orders were to take my platoon up that road and make contact with the 503 PR. I was to be careful because the individuals I was to approach might be on our side, so I was not to shoot at them. I gave him my best Benning "yes sir" but my intent was that if anybody shot at me he was going to get shot back at.

At about the time I was ready to move out, Sam Snyder shouted that he had seen a Nip at the top of the hill. We looked, saw nothing so I told the outfit “follow me.” As I recall, I took about two steps, saw black smoke and felt something hit my left chest. I felt like I had been punched. When I came to, Sam Snyder had pulled me back behind the hill and was shouting for a medic. For some time I was in and out of consciousness. Each time I came to Sam was shouting for a medic. He had already put my field dressing over the wound and had tried to get me to swallow one of the wound tablets. (If you want an experience, try swallowing one of those pills, big enough to choke a horse, while lying flat on your back with a hole in your chest drinking water from a canteen.) Sam came up with the school solution, he crushed the tablet and poured it into the wound.

I heard Sam shout, "Where in the hell have you been?" as two medics approached. For a moment I feared that 5am and the medics might ignore me and get into a private war of their own. I was loaded on to a stretcher and those two guys carried me to the beach. If you think that it takes guts to be an infantryman, try running around a hot beach standing up carrying a stretcher. If I could have gotten off and walked I would have. I tip my Combat Infantry Badge to anyone who served in combat with the field medics.

When I go to the aid station, a medical Captain looked at my chest and told me that I had a sucking wound. Fortunately that meant nothing to me. I remember that as I was lying there, the sun was terribly hot and bothered my uncovered chest and my eyes. As I was given plasma, the Doc told the man who was holding the bottle to stand in such a way that his body cast a shadow on my face. I don't know who had more guts the doctor for telling the medic to stand that way on a hot beach or the medic who carried out his order.

I came to again to find that I was once more on a stretcher. I was placed on the deck of an assault boat as more wounded were loaded on board. The boat was almost full when I heard explosions close to us. I heard one of the medics shout to the coxswain that the Japs were trying to hit us with mortar fire and that he should get us out of there. Apparently he did so because the next thing I remember I was on the deck of an LST. A doctor was moving from man to man. He would check the wound and then say something to other men who were with him. He examined me, said something and moved on as two men picked up my stretcher and carried me to the tank deck. I later learned that the doctor was conducting triage. I floated in and out of consciousness for an unknown period of time. When awake I noticed a great amount of activity at the far end of the hold. Sometime later, a medic approached and said that I was about to be moved. I had not a great deal of pain. My main discomfort came from the fact that it was difficult to breathe, my left lung had collapsed. Because I had not had a shot for pain since I was first hit, I asked the medic if I could have a shot before I was moved. It arrived almost immediately. I just didn't give a damn. If the doctor had said they were going to cut off my head and sew it back on I suspect that I would have told him to go at it. They moved us top side and I saw heaven. A big white ship loaded with beautiful women all looking down at us. I was transferred to the white cloud half expecting to be issued G.I. wings and a harp. Not so. The ship was for real. It was the Hospital Ship Hope and the beautiful women were army nurses who were going to Lingayan Gulf to join the hospital there. It turned out that many of the nurses had sailed from Frisco on the same ship, the General Howse, that had carried me and many of my buddies to Hollandia where they disembarked while we went as replacements to the 4th Reple Depl. at Tacloban. A number of them came to visit me and to ask about many of the other men- But, I digress. I was carried below to clean sheets in a soft bunk. Soon a big, and I do mean big, and very pretty navy nurse came to my bunk took one look and disappeared. She soon returned with a basin of hot water and a cloth and began to give me a bath. How she knew that I had not had a bath in over a month I'll never know. The bath was followed by a bowl of strawberries with cream. I may not have been real cream but after a diet of C and K rations it sure tasted like cream.

Some of the other patients were not so fortunate as was I. Across the aisle from me was a man whose whole body appeared to be covered with gauze. I was told that he was navy and had suffered severe burns over most of his body.

Sometime later, a day or so, I was picked up by a corpsman and carried to x-ray. The medics wanted to know where the fragment had lodged in my body. Unfortunately, because the left chest cavity was filled with fluid, the x-ray revealed nothing. Soooo, a doctor soon appeared at my side with a slender piece of metal and said that he would probe in order to try to determine the direction the fragment had taken He then proceeded to insert that mental object into the hole in my chest I felt no pain, but there is something very unpleasant about watching a piece of metal disappear for a number of inches into your body. I suspect the problem was that because the wound was so close to my heart they couldn't quite figure out why I was still alive. Regardless, my stay on the Hope' about a week or so because we went to Lingayen to drop off the nurses, was not at all unpleasant. I had to sleep sitting up to relieve the pressure on my heart but it beat sleeping where the rest of my outfit was. I was on a soft diet, baby food mounds of yellow (carrots) and green (peas) pureed stuff not too tasty but D bars weren’t so hot either.

My only unpleasant experience on the Hope was when a nurse told me that the ship was unarmed but she felt that it was all right because it was brightly lighted so the Japs would know it was a hospital ship and would not fire on it. I didn’t bother to tell her that aid men removed the red crosses from their helmets because they made good targets. Except for that it was a somewhat pleasant cruise. The trouble started when in a general hospital in Hollandia, New Guinea.

I was in the 54th General Hospital for a number of days when a Doctor, I capitalize Doctor because as I recall he was a Light Colonel and is due that respect, came and said that they would have to aspirate me because of the fluid in my lung, What did I know, they never talked about aspirating anyone at Benning when we studied combat medics. So I said, “go at it Sir”. The next day I began to question my rash decision, I really had no say in the matter, when an orderly brought a tray to my bedside The tray was covered, I wish it had stayed that way because when the Doctor came and took off the towel I saw the n biggest hypodermic needle ever invented by man It was even bigger than the needle with the hook that that they told you about in basic training. The Doctor was a caring and feeling man, for a Light Colonel, he asked if I would prefer to have him stick that bayonet in the front of my chest or in the rear. My mother, Mr. Nast, not having raised any heroes, a nut maybe or I wouldn’t have gone to Benninq; I elected to have him approach me from the rear. It was not too bad for me because I didn’t have to watch but the rest of the guys in the ward did. They soon learned to read a book or hobble to the head when they saw my tray coming. The first time it was done, it was done 4 times, the Doctor kept asking me how I was doing. I kept saying, "fine Sir keep going”. And so he did. Shortly after he finished, I began to have trouble breathing and began to spit up a white foam. A nurse saw this, picked up my hand, saw that the nails were turning blue and took off. She returned with a few other people and an oxygen tank and mask. And all was right with the world again. It appears that my heart had been pumping against the resistance of the fluid in the chest and when too much was taken off at one the heart began to race with the result that the blood could not pickup sufficient oxygen and so for a short time I was in DEEP TROUBLE.

Regardless, I spent four or five weeks at the 54th and was then transferred to a General Hospital in New York State. I did not return limited duty until September of 1945. And was medically discharged in March of 1946.

Albert J. Amatuzio Research Center | Veterans Memorial Hall (

Philip H Nast in WWII Army Enlistment Records - Fold3


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