Original U.S. WWII 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment KIA Grouping with Scrapbook, Purple Heart, War Trophies, MacArthur Signed Letter

Item Description

Original Items: One-of-a-kind set. Sergeant James F. Reed ASN 33101654 was assigned to Company G, 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment. He entered service on October 10th, 1941, went overseas on August 12th, 1942 and was Killed in Action on Corregidor Island during a combat jump invasion against the Japanese base there. He was laid to rest at the USAF cemetery in Luzon, Manila. Sgt. Reed spent early 30 months overseas before his death, participating in 4 invasions beginning with the jump into the Markham Valley on September 5th, 1943. Other missions were Noemfore, Netherland East Indies, Leyte (July 4th, 1944) and his final mission the jump into Corregidor where he was Killed in Action on February 16th, 1945.

This is a collection of War Trophies, Medals, Documents, Original wartime scrap book complied by his mother Mabel reed which contains dozens of photos of Sgt. Reed and his fellow paratroopers in the Pacific Theater of Operations as well as numerous letters, citations, and even a death sympathy letter signed by General Douglas MacArthur is simply incredible.

In a scanned letter to his mother dated dated Tuesday, September 26th Sgt. Reed describes the bring home box he sent to his mother which was stuffed with war trophies. This box is included with this offering and still contains the items Reed outlines such as-

- "Small parachute used on Parachute Bombs" (Which read 503rd Parcht. Inf. Company "G" Honor Roll" and lists all KIA soldiers to date of hone it was created and issigned by Reed and his fellow Paratroopers in the 503rd PIR Company G)
- "Japanese watch"
- "Watch Chain"
- "There is also a Gold Tooth I got from a Jap"
- "Jap Canteen"
- "Draftsman's inking pen"
- "Plexi glass heart with an Australian Coat of Arms"
- ""American Garrison Belt"
- "Jap Belt"
- "Jap postcards"
- "Jap pay book"
- "Some kind of Jap Prayer book"
- "Little leather case they wear around their neck"
- "That box I sent that stuff in was some kind of chest one of the boys got last September when we were in the Markham Valley. Since I needed a box anyway to send that chute with all the boys in the company names on it, I thought maybe you would like it".
- "Did you get those Jap pictures and negatives I sent you?"

The box also contained lot of other items including:
- Original inscribed Purple Heart with box and Certificate noting Sgt. Reed's wound on February, also original newspaper article where his mother accepted the medal.
- 503rd Combat Mission Certificate for New Guinea on September 5th, 1943.
- Original Map of Markham Valley with Jump Site and September 5th, 1943 date.
- Presidential KIA citation from FDR naming Sgt. Reed and the place and date of his death.
- Japanese insignia
- 2 x packs of Japanese cigarettes
- Japanese chopsticks
- Japanese Officer Map case
- 503rd PIR embroidered insignia patch
- Paratrooper Jump Wings
- Loads of other items clearly all sent back from the PTO.
- Reed's mother also saved all war correspondence including all original documents from his death and internment as well as multiple newspapers clippings and much more.
- In additional to the General Douglas MacArthur there is the original Western Union Telegram death notice dated March 20th, 1945.

This collection is chilling. To read through all the letters, documents, browse the photos in the scrap book you watch a young man's story unfold from early days in the Army culminating to a letter he wrote to his mother on February 14th, 1945 just two days before his death at Corregidor and ending with his internment and subsequent letters from his Army friends and official correspondence from the government. Even the death flag is included in the original box with the original care and display instructions. A real American Hero that made the ultimate sacrifice for his Nation at one of the most notable Paratrooper Invasions of the Pacific Theatre during World War Two.

The Battle for the Recapture of Corregidor, 16–26 February 1945, pitted American forces against the defending Japanese garrison on the island fortress. The Japanese had captured the bastion from the United States Army Forces in the Far East during their 1942 invasion.

Corregidor in 1945—though it lacked in importance to the defensive strategy of the Japanese than it previously had held for the Americans in early 1942—remained a formidable sentinel to the entrance to Manila Bay. Consequently, American planners thought it merited a separate attack.

MacArthur's strategy was to make a combined amphibious and airborne assault—among the most difficult of all modern military maneuvers—to retake the island. Although this particular plan of action had been used to good effect during the Luzon landings, the airborne phase was risky. As small as it was, at just over five square miles, the tadpole-shaped island made a difficult target for a parachute drop.

Complicating the strategy, was that the paratroopers were required to land on a hill known as 'Topside', the island's foremost dominant terrain feature. MacArthur's staff balked at the proposal, but on the other hand, there was little choice. From 'Topside', the Japanese could dominate all possible amphibious landing sites. The American premise was that the Japanese would certainly not expect an airborne landing on such an unlikely target.

The honors for recapturing the Rock went to the 503rd Parachute Regimental Combat Team of Lieutenant Colonel George M. Jones and elements of Major General Roscoe B. Woodruff's 24th Infantry Division, the same units which undertook the capture of Mindoro island. The 503rd PRCT included the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, Co. C, 161st Airborne Engineer Battalion, and elements of the 462nd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion with 75 mm pack howitzers. They were airlifted by C-47 aircraft of the 317th Troop Carrier Group. The amphibious assault was by the reinforced 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, carried by Landing Craft Mechanized (LCMs) of the 592nd Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment.

Touchdown on Topside
At 08:33 on 16 February, barely three minutes late from their intended time, and facing 16-18 knot winds over the drop zones, the first of one thousand troopers of the 503rd PRCT based at Mindoro, began dropping out of C-47 troop carriers of the US Thirteenth Air Force and to float down on the surprised[citation needed] Japanese defenders, remnants of Maj. Gen. Rikichi Tsukada's Kembu Group at the two tiny go-point areas of Topside's western heights. However, some paratroopers were blown back into Japanese held territory. No troopers drowned, although some who were unable to climb the cliffs through hostile territory, or had fallen close to the rocks, had to be rescued near Wheeler Point.
Paratroopers of the 503rd PRCT descend on Corregidor, 16 February 1945.

Despite the grueling air and naval bombardment that left the defending troops dazed and scattered, they vigorously rallied, and fierce fighting erupted almost immediately. At one point that same morning, they threatened to drive a salient into the paratroopers' tenuous foothold on 'Topside'.

Paratroopers and infantrymen waged a tenacious battle with the well dug-in and determined enemy. Private Lloyd G. McCarter, a scout attached to the 503rd, during the initial landing on 16 February, crossed 30 yd (27 m) of open ground under intense fire and at point-blank range silenced a machine gun with hand grenades. In the next few days, he inflicted heavy casualties on the Japanese, but was seriously wounded; McCarter was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Battle of Banzai Point
The most ferocious battle to regain Corregidor occurred at Wheeler Point on the night of 18 February and early the next morning, when D and F Companies, 2nd Battalion, 503rd PRCT, settled down in defensive positions near Battery Hearn and Cheney Trail. At 22:30 under a black, moonless night, 500 Japanese marines came out of the Battery Smith armory and charged the American and the Philippine positions. (This was also the night Pvt. McCarter earned his Medal of Honor). F Company stopped the attacks by the Japanese trying to break through to the south. Any minor breakthrough by the charge would have been cut short by the rear echelons.

Aside from flares fired throughout the night by warships laying offshore, the three-hour battle was decided by the weapons of the 50 paratroopers ranged against the Japanese Special Landing Force, the best among the empire's fighting men. Not all men of the company were involved in the fighting because of the ensuing confusion. The savage encounter ended in failure with more than 250 Japanese corpses strewn along a 200 yd (180 m) stretch of Cheney Trail. F Company suffered 14 dead and 15 wounded. This was the first significant attack by the Japanese on Corregidor. Official historians of the 503rd refer to Wheeler Point as "Banzai Point".

Seizure of Malinta Hill
At the same time the 503rd paratroopers touched down at 'Topside', the first wave of 3rd Battalion under Lt. Col. Edward M. Postlethwait of the 24th Infantry Division's 34th Infantry Regiment (under Col. Aubrey S. "Red" Newman) waded ashore and established a beachhead at San Jose Point on the eastern end of Corregidor named 'Black Beach'. The succeeding waves of troops took the brunt of the hastily organized Japanese defense, and several landing craft and infantrymen became victims of landmines. The battalion pushed inland against sporadic resistance, mostly from groups coming out of the subterranean passages of the island to waylay the advancing American troops.

Two 3rd Battalion units—K and L Companies under Captains Frank Centanni and Lewis F. Stearns, respectively—managed to secure the road and both northern and southern entrances to Malinta Hill, while Capt. Gilbert Heaberlin's A Company stationed itself near the waterline. I Company—under 1st Lt. Paul Cain—occupied the North Dock and guarded the harbor. They intended to keep the Japanese troops inside the tunnel as other units moved inland, accompanied by tanks and flamethrowers; weapons that devastated pillboxes and tunnels in the surrounding areas held by the Japanese. For eight straight days until 23 February, these units staved off successive banzai charges, mortar attacks, and even a suicide squad of soldiers with explosives strapped to their bodies; they killed over 300 Japanese.

On 21 February at 21:30, Malinta Hill reacted like a volcano when several detonations in quick succession tore it asunder. The Japanese trapped inside had blown themselves up, and after the explosions and rock falls ceased, some 50 Japanese exited the cave to attack, the Americans shot them down. Two nights later, a similar attack happened. Finally, engineers went to work, poured large quantities of gasoline down the tunnels and set them afire, they then sealed the tunnels' entrances. After some time, silence finally reigned inside Malinta Hill.

There were no more organized Japanese attacks for the rest of the campaign. Only isolated pockets of resistance continued to fight on until 26 February, when Corregidor was finally declared secured.
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