Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at places and events of interest in Bulloch County history.
While being loaded onto “Peeps” (2-ton trucks), Japanese mortar shells hit one of the trucks, killing six and wounding 11 more men. Other trucks quickly came under fire, and there were more casualties. It turned out there was a major battle going on over the Mokmer Air Strip.
The Bulloch Boys began firing their artillery pieces straight up into the air at the Japanese bombers and their "Zero" fighter escorts streaking by overhead, bringing down at least 14 planes.
Unfortunately, they also shot down an American bomber, killing its crew of six in the process. Once Mokmer was captured, the nearby Borokoe and Sorido airstrips were taken. The Japanese began pouring in artillery and mortar fire on the American-occupied airbase. By the time all of the fighting in the area was over, the Japanese had lost 10,00 men while the Allies had only 300 men killed.
At first the American servicemen were paid in Australian money, but now the Bulloch Boys found they were being paid in Dutch currency. Back at Hollandia on “R&R,” the Bulloch Boys got to see Bob Hope, Jerry Colonna, Frances Langford and Patty Thomas at a USO concert at the main American rear base.
An enterprising young Bulloch Boy, Gilbert Cone, began making chairs out of whatever materials he could find and then selling them to enlisted men (for 5 guilders or $2.65) and officers (for 9 guilders or $4.75).
Before Cone returned to the front he had made 32 chairs and pocketed more than $100. The gathered Philippines invasion force boarded over 100 ships and 80 LSTs and sailed for Leyte Islands, the Philippines.
The Bulloch Boys were told to prepare to support both the First and Forty-First Division Commands. Arriving on Oct. 22, 1944, the Bulloch Boys first set off in support of the First Cavalry forces at Tacloban and then the Twenty-Fourth forces at Caragar.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail Roger at firstname.lastname@example.org.