96th Infantry Division Deadeyes Asssociation

   At 10:00 am on October 20, 1944 (A-Day) the 96th Infantry Division made the amphibious assault landing on Blue and Orange beaches, Leyte Island, marking the return of U.S. forces to the Philippines.  Our oppposition was the Japanese 16th Infantry Division, infamous for taking part in the rape of Nanking, China and the 1942 defeat of U.S. forcess on Bataan.

   The landing was textbook perfect against light Japanese opposition.  Deadeyes, advancing over almost impenetrable swamps (described in intelligance reports as farmland) defeated the Japanese at Tabontabon and captured strategic Catmon Hill.  By October 30, the 96th had captured their entire assigned beachhead area. 

   During November and early December 1944 the 96th Division destroyed the remnants of the Japanese 16th Division in the hills and jungle west of Dagami, Leyte.

   Detween December 6th and 10th elements of the 96th Division combated and destroyed Japaanese paratroops who had descended upon and captured Buri airfield near Burauen, Leyte.  For action during this fighting, Pvt. Ova Kelly, Company A, 382nd Infantry was posthumously awarded tche Congressional Medal of Honor.

   For the Leyte Battle, sadly, 514 Deadeyes were killed in action or died of wounds.  Almost 1,500 were wounded, with a like number of disease casualties.  As of 2007 there were 12 men from the 96th Infantry Division still listed as Missing in Action for the Leyte Battle.

   For its part in the liberation of Leyte the 96th Infantry Division was awarded the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation.  Deadeyes are still well remembered on Leyte, where every October 20th is celebrated as Liberation Day.  Hill 120 on Blue Beach 1, where the 3rd Battalion, 382nd Infantry landed is now the 96th Infantry Division Veterans Memorial Park.  There are also four 96th Infantry Division Veterans Memorial Libraries at Jaro, Burauen, Tabontabon and Dagami, Leyte.

Don Dencker