When Major General Rapp Brush led the veteran 40th Infantry Division into the Philippine liberation campaign, he began retracing the steps of his youth.
On the day the 40th liberated the city of Lingayen, General Brush rode through its shell-pocked streets. “This doesn’t look like much of a playground for a boy,” he remarked.
As a boy in Lingayen, where his father was Military District Commander in 1901, the leader of the “Sunburst” Division had taught Filipino youngsters to play baseball. When General Brush had led his Doughboys in a lightning, 10-day liberation of the island of Panay, he established his headquarters in Iloilo, where his father once served as commanding general.
The thorough knowledge of the country owned by General Brush, plus the blazing combat spirit of his men, made the 40th a terror to the Japanese.
The Doughboys of the 40th were better than green hands at fighting when they landed on Luzon on D-day. Early in 1944 they had been in action on New Britain in the Bismarck Archipelago. The Infantrymen, knifing through snarled jungle growth, continued the offensive initiated by the 1st Marine Division. From Talasea on New Britain’s north coast, Doughboys of the 40th jumped 25 miles eastward to capture the Cape Moskins airdome, and make escape-proof the trap which surrounded thousands of Japanese troops in the Rabaul area.
The 40th, known also as tne namesnake "Rattlesnake" Division, struck with the speed of that reptile when it landed at Luzon. By nightfall of D-day, the 40th had rolled on past Lingayen and crossed the Agno-Calmay River. On January 21, 11 days after the invasion, soldiers of the 40th entered Tarlac, provincial capital and key highway-railroad junction. Crossing the Bamban River, Sunburst footsloggers were the first American troops to reach Clark Field, target of the earliest Japanese bombing attack in the Philippines after the outbreak of the Pacific war. The 40th went on to capture Fort Stotsenburg and Camp O'Donnell, where hundreds of prisoners of Bataan and Corregidor died.
At the end of 53 continuous day s. of fighting on Luzon the 40th had killed 6,145 of the enemy.
Early in March elements of the 40th surprised the Japs by landing on Panay Island in the Visayas. On the third day of fighting, the Doughboys captured Iloilo, second most important city in the Philippines. The city had been badly damaged by the Japanese but the harbor facilities were immediately put to use. Within ten days all of Panay had been liberated, and American planes began landing on airstrips at Santa Barbara and Mundurriao.
Units of the 40th landed on Guimaras and Inampulugan Islands, between Panay and Negros, to erase any threat to American sea lanes in the central Philippines. Late in March the entire Division jumped across Guimaras Strait for an invasion of Negros.
Twenty-seven hours after H-hour the Sunbursters had captured Bacolod, capital of Negros Occidental. By June 1 the 40th had killed and captured nearly 5,000 Japs on Panay and Negros.
While the 160th and 185th Infantry Regiments were operating in the Visayas, the 108th effected a landing on Masbate Island in the Visayan Sea between Luzon and Panay, and destroyed the Jap garrison there. The Doughboys of the hardhitting 108th then went ashore on the northern coast of Mindanao, to seal the doom of the Japs trapped between the 31st and 40th Divisions.
From Fighting Divisions, Kahn & McLemore, Infantry Journal Press, 1945-1946.
There are 15 soldiers of the 40th Infantry Division World War II still listed as missing in action.
|Private First Class Esteban L. Carrillo 160th Infantry Regiment 02/16/1945|
|Private First Class Lee O. Hogan 185th Infantry Regiment 05/15/1945|
|Private John A. Howard 108th Infantry Regiment 04/03/1945|
|Technician Third Grade Melvin B. Kieninger Headquarters Company 01/10/1945|
|Second Lieutenant Charles E. Komosinski 160th Infantry Regiment 01/29/1945|
|Private First Class Benito Lopez 160th Infantry Regiment 01/31/1945|
|First Lieutenant Bill A. Maxfield 160th Infantry Regiment 02/16/1945|
|First Lieutenant Kenneth S. McPheeters 160th Infantry Regiment 02/20/1945|
|Private First Class Frank Mergec 160th Infantry Regiment 02/24/1945|
|Sergeant Carl A. Nelson 108th Infantry Regiment 02/23/1945|
|Second Lieutenant Niel C. Nielsen 164th Field Artillery Battalion 10/26/1944|
|Lieutenant Colonel James B. Pettit 185th Infantry Regiment 04/29/1944|
|Staff Sergeant Joseph Robbins 160th Infantry Regiment 02/22/1945|
|Corporal Lee I. Tinsman 160th Infantry Regiment 02/18/1945|
|Private First Class Robert E. Wells 160th Infantry Regiment 02/15/1945|
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