JACK HEYN IN THE SOUTH WEST PACIFIC
(MEMBER OF THE 3RD BOMB GROUP)
In May 1944 we boarded an L.S.T. and headed for Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea. We arrived two weeks after the initial landing. We pulled up to the most congested beach we had ever encountered. There was about 50 yards of beach, and then swamp. But one road led off that beach, and it was full of traffic 24 hours a day. We did manage to get our equipment unloaded on the beach, but there was no way we were going to get off the beach that day. So the cooks set up their field stoves, and proceeded to fix something for supper. The beach had been a prime target for Jap bombers and it had been blown up three times in those two weeks. The engineers just bulldozed the debris into the swamp. So that first nite we would spend on that beach amongst piles of 500 lb. bombs and 90mm artillery shells. A lot of prayers were said that nite, and fortunately the Japs did not come over that nite.
Unloading onto a very congested beach
The Photo Section guys take a well earned break
The next day we did get our equipment and supplies off the beach and headed to our camp area and the airstrips, some 20 miles inland. The next couple weeks were spent in the usual getting things back in operation routine -- and digging the mandatory slit trenches. This was probably the lousiest setup the Photo Section had. It consisted of a tarp stretched over a frame work, for the finishing area; two pyramidal tents on one side, for supplies; and the two trailer labs on the other side. Except for the trailer labs everything else was dirt floors. After some of the nicer spots we had had, it was a bit of a let down -- but it was wartime. It did have an attraction for some of the pilots as they liked to buzz us. One day a B-24 came thru the area, a friend of Capt. Speith I believe, and was so low the tarp was flapping in the windstream.
It was rather scenic country, and once again as seen thru the view finder of a camera, New Guinea did have some beauty. The area around Lake Sentani was especially nice. As usual we did some exploring and sight seeing in our spare time. Lake Sentani was a favourite spot for swimming, unfortunately it proved to be a deadly one for Sgt. Warren (Hut Sut) Huston, as he drowned in it. He was in the motor pool and a real nice kid. Tack and I took off one day on a little exploring trek. Made the airstrip where there were several bombed out Jap aircraft. Got down to the town of Hollandia to get a few photos and once again saw a shot up church. Got the last photos of Tack that day, before he was rotated back to the States. It was about this time (summer of '44) that they started rotating ground personnel back to the states. Don't know what criteria they used for picking who goes when; but Tack was one of the first ones. It would be six months before I would make it, this would be the first time a shortage of photo lab-techs would rain on my parade. Sgt. Bill Marnell, a truck driver would be sent home from Hollandia, only he never made. On the way down to the ship the truck he was riding on went over a cliff, and Bill was killed. That's a hell of a way to go -- but then, there isn't a good way to go.
A shot up church in the little town of
nothing is sacred in wartime.
Last photo of Jack Heyn with his buddy,
Tack, before he was rotated back to the States.
While at Hollandia we had more entertainment than we had had the whole time we were over there. Bob Hope and his troupe, including Frances Langford, Jerry Cologna, Patty Thomas and a guitar player I can't remember his name. Also Judith Anderson, a well-known Shakespearian actress and some lesser lights visited us. Thirdly we had a U.S.O. troupe come in, nobody famous, but good entertainers. Having come up with good results with the Gary Cooper troupe back in Dobo Dura, I got the job of photographing all the shows and visits they made to our camps. Also made a P.R. trip to a plantation where General Eichelberger had his headquarters, and got some photos of the General and a lesser brass. We also did a group photo of the Photo Section, with two missing from the one that had been taken at Dobo. Sgt. Geo. Newcomb, he had been on my lab crew; and S/Sgt Harold Koplan, our camera repair man were both missing. Both of them were on flying status, and both had been shot down on missions. Along with Marvin Culbreth, who went down over the Owen Stanleys on the way to or from a leave in Aust, that was 3 of my work mates that paid the ultimate price.
Members of Bob Hope's troupe entertaining
the troops. Frances Langford singing.
Patty Thomas dancing
While at Hollandia our Group was to experience two blows to their pride. The first was the fact that the WACs caught up with us. They came in with some headquarters outfit and were strictly clerical workers, I think. Our officers had a big party for them at the Officers Club, and once again I was dispatched to photograph the event. One of the guys in Intelligence made arrangement for he and I to have a date with a couple one afternoon. Couldn't even tell you her name, she was cute (witness the photo in my album) but other than that I wasn't much impressed. Besides I still had my sights set on Annie. The other blow to our pride was a tactical one. Being a ground support outfit we had always been the first Bomb Gp. to move up. In Oct. MacArthur fulfilled his promise to the Philippine people and "Returned". For the first time the 3rd was not the first to move up. The 38th Bomb Gp., a B-25 outfit that had arrived in the summer of 1942 were moved up ahead of us. Unfortunately they paid a price. While waiting to disembark at Leyte they got hit by Jap bombers, and did suffer some casualties. Our pride might have been hurt, but we dodged a bullet. The next month, November, it was our turn. Once again we tore everything down, packed everything up and loaded it on an L.S.T and headed for Leyte Island in the Philippines.
Jack Heyn in the South West Pacific during WW2 - The Full story
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© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 1 January 2001
This page last updated 08 December 2017