Staten Island Advance
"Salute to the Services"
Date unknown, circa 1944, newspaper clipping via Tracey McLean, transcript by Justin Taylan
A fighter pilot’s picture of combat in the South Pacific is contained in a recent letter from 1st Lt. Gabriel J. Eggud. Lt. Eggud who pilots a P-39 [Airacobra] has been in the South Pacific since December .
“These parts are composed mainly of all sorts of damn jungles, swift mountain streams, swamps and, naturally, mountains all over the place. Crocodiles roam around around the swamps and smaller streams, and have been seen by some fliers who were forced down in the wilderness.” he writes. “They tell us that if attacked by a croc, the best thing to do if unarmed is to stick your fingers into his eyes. That sounds simple though but --“
“So sorry, but I can’t give my exact location. All I can say is the places I've seen and been and flown over, which includes practically all of British [sic Australian colonies of Territory of Papua and Territory of New Guinea, today Papua New Guinea (PNG)] New Guinea, Port Moresby, Gusap, Nadzab, Saidor, Madang, Alexishafen, Wewak and all those. Then there are parts of New Britain where the Marines made several landings and Manus Island in the Admiralties.
Soon after we landed on Manus Island, the troops took over the strip [Momote Airfield on Los Negros Island] from the Nips, so we occupied the runway and one side of it, while the honorable sons of Tojo were on the other side. They seemed to like the idea of taking pot-shots at our planes, especially during take-off and landing, when their speed was comparatively low.
“It must have been a sort of rest camp for them, as they were nurses and geisha girls there. One “gorgeous geisha (?)” ran out to the strip as our [U.S. Navy Naval Construction Battalion] Seabees were running bulldozers, to show she was a woman. I suppose they were brought there to provide that feminine touch - or something.
“We’re still strafing Wewak, starting fires there and keeping little yellow boys busy running around. I have a camera in my ship, so am able to snap pictures of anything that looks like a good shot.
“Wewak is pretty well shot up from continuous raids. They sure were well dug in there. We got shot at most all the time, but the fellows have grown rather used to seeing shell bursts all around them. In fact, we’re a little disappointed when no ack-ack comes up, as it’s an intriguing sign - if one has a peculiar sense of humor.”
Lt. Eggud tells of attacks on barges, which they went after time and again with guns and cannon blazing, then turned out over the ocean hugging the white caps and skidding and slipping to throw the Jap gunners’ aims.
“Remember the Bogadjim campaign an Shaggy Ridge” he continues. “Well, when that was in progress, we dive-bombed and strafed the enemy positions in front of the Aussie [Australian Army] lines as they slowly cut their way through the jungle. On top of Shaggy Ridge were some Jap heavy guns which held back the Aussie advance. We had a field day up there - our whole squadron men along for the kill, and we put those ‘honorable’ guns out of commission.
“The Aussie high command has recommended our squadron for a citation as a result of those battles. That day I learned that it wasn’t a good idea to dive-bomb from low altitudes. I got to [sic too] absorbed in this whole affair that I released my bomb when I was too low and the explosion below lifted my ship up a bit. Later some Tonies [Ki-61 Tonys] came over and strafed our field [Japanese missios against Gusap Airfield]. I think they’re poor shots.”
Lt Eggud explained to his wfie that a Jap bullet he sent her was from one of these raiders. Mrs. Eggud lives at 86 Dale Avenue New Derp. Lt. Eggud is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Gabriel Eggud of 220 Kingsley avenue, Westerleigh.
He was commissioned and received his wings at Brooks Field, Tx. in February 1943. Before going to the South Pacific he was stationed at Meridian, Miss.