In early December, elements of the Japanese 16th and 26th Divisions in the central mountains combined with the 3d and 4th Airborne Raiding Regiments from Luzon to attack the airfields in the Burauen area, which the 7th Division had taken in October.

Some 350 Japanese paratroopers dropped at dusk on 6 December, most of them near the San Pablo airstrip. Although the Japanese attacks were poorly coordinated, the enemy was able to seize some abandoned weapons and use them against the Americans over the next four days.

Monday, 11 December 1944

Hastily mustered groups of support and service troops held off the Japanese until they were reinforced and concentrated enough strength to contain and defeat the enemy paratroops by nightfall of 11 December. Although the Japanese destroyed a few American supply dumps and aircraft on the ground and delayed construction projects, their attacks on the airfields failed to have any effect on the overall Leyte Campaign. Tom was on duty as a medical corpsman during the attacks.

Wednesday, 13 December 1944

Crashed and burning American plane, WWII, Pacific Theater

While taking off on a routine mission, the plane piloted by 2nd Lt. J. Collins crashed into some B-24's parked near the runway as a result of a tire blowing out. The resultant fire was terrific.

Lt. Collins was thrown clear but was burned seriously. He died before the day was over. He was one of the newer pilots in the unit.

Thomas C. Wanta is Killed

June 1944. Tom Wanta pictured on Biak Island with his ambulance and a B24 bomber in the background.

Tom Wanta was on duty in the Flight Surgeon's "Emergency Crash Ambulance" at 5:00am, ready for the first sorties of the day. When Lt. Collins' plane crashed, Tom's ambulance was hit by the wreckage.

He died later that day at the hospital, Dec. 13, 1944, never regaining consciousness at the Leyte Airdrome, Phillipine Islands.

telegram from Tom Wanta with holiday greetings to his family, December 1944. His last words, delivered 11 days after he was killed.

Tom's last words home, delivered 24 December 1944, eleven days after his death.

David Atkinson 2017. All Rights Reserved.