“I only had one clip which was 12 shots so I had to use it very sparingly”
RT presents War Witness – a special project dedicated to the 65th anniversary of the Victory in the Second World War.
Former Staff Sergeant Harry Akune from the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regimental Combat Team remembers how he was airdropped on the island of Corregidor in the Philippines.
“Well, I really didn’t have formal parachute training. However, they did throw me out of an airplane one time and I got hurt. That was seven days before the operation. And these paratroopers acted like, ‘Oh, a piece of cake – jumping out an airplane.’ So you kind of believed that, and I thought ‘Yeah OK, I'll go,’ and I didn’t think… I wasn’t really afraid to go out, you know,” revealed Akune.
“And from there, after making one amphibious landing with them, they asked me to go on this mission. It was my duty to do the interrogation of prisoners and translating documents. And that was the reason why I was with this unit and I landed on the island of Corregidor. They did not tell me how dangerous it was or anything like that; they just told me to make a parachute landing,” remembers Akune.
“I left the plane and I couldn’t judge distance, and I thought I was soon to go into the water. The island's top side is a little over one mile and we were jumping in the middle of it.”
“So I tried to maneuver like they told me to do, and I did everything wrong. I was trying to avoid this jagged, shattered tree. I thought I was sure going to get impaled and I tried frantically to miss that tree. In the meantime, because I had tried to change it suddenly, the parachute started to turn around and pretty soon I didn’t know where I was going. Then I felt my feet land and I rolled on my back, and my parachute took me down this hill. I was just lucky I didn’t get hurt. And then I looked around and I didn’t see anybody. I thought I was possibly on the top side. So I was going up and then suddenly I looked up at the top and I saw a line of rifles pointing at me, and I knew that if one let go, they would all let go. So I just raised my hand, and then I lowered my rifle and ran up to them. As it happened this particular sergeant, the demolition sergeant, recognized me. First of all, I think he recognized the carbine and the coverall; otherwise, that's all I had. Anyway, I was able to join the ad hoc group and move forward with them,” he said.
“I was fired upon by the enemy with the rest of the guys, The thing is, I only had one clip which was 12 shots. So I knew I’d have to use it very sparingly. And so therefore, these paratroopers were just fantastic. When they heard firing, they didn’t crouch and look around; they ran right at the firing, absolutely. And I just followed them. That unit was… I would be happy to go anyplace with them, because they would go to the fire instead of waiting, they just went right at it. Their aggressive attitude was really something.”
“I left Smolensk four hours before it was invaded by the Nazis”, remembers Zoya Kochkina, former intelligence section commander of an antiaircraft artillery battalion.
“I came to the city of Yaroslavl and inquired at the Komsomol city committee if they had any jobs. I worked day and night shifts,” she said. “On April 10, 1942, I along with several other girls from our plant joined artillery regiment 201 which was defending the city of Yaroslavl.”