Freedom Fighters: Paul Douglas

CHANDLER, TX (KLTV) - After 72 years, the nightmares that disturb Paul Douglas's sleep aren't as vivid as they once were. But his experience in World War II in the South Pacific, aren't so easily forgotten.

"I don't like to be reminded of them."

Douglas was 18 and just out of high school when he was drafted into the Army in 1943. Soon after basic training at Tyler's Camp Fannin, Douglas was shipped to the South Pacific, where he fought in three of the most ferocious campaigns of the war, with his first invasion at Luzon.

"They were dug in, I'll tell you. They were in caves. They were tied up in trees."

The entire island was riddled with connecting caves, giving the Japanese soldiers the advantage of location and sight.

"I remember one particular hill that we were assigned to take. They were dug in and it was a pretty good size hill so the first platoon went in and I mean they slaughtered them. The colonel that was in charge, he got on the phone and called headquarters and said,' let me tell you something, he said this is not going to work and I'm not going to send my boys in anymore and if you want to take this blankety-blank hill down here, you can come down here and take it yourself, we're leaving.'"

Bombs and tanks with flamethrowers soon took care of the cave situation, although the snipers in trees and the night attacks weren't so easily solved.

When Douglas and his company arrived in Manilla, he found that the Marines had driven the Japanese out of the city and into the hills, and that's where the Army did their fighting in the Philippines.

"When we went up into the hills it was right in the middle of it and I mean they counter-attacked."

One of Douglas's most vivid memories is that of freeing the American prisoners who had been on the Bataan Death March. Thousands had died on the perilous uphill march and those who did survive were, as Douglas describes it, only skin and bones.

Paul Douglas was honorably discharged from the Army in 1946 and at the age of 91, he looks back on his service with pride, and on his survival with wonder.

"The only answer is God took care of me because I had some close calls."

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