May 5, 1972
Key Taps Out "Taps" for Coregidor
When historians write about
wars and big battles, they rarely deal with the individual foot soldier
and when they do, they rarely write about what he feels in the thick of
the fight. For one thing, what soldier can record in the thick of battle
what he feels?
"They are not near yet. We are waiting for God-only-knows-what; how
about a chocolate soda?... We may have to give up by noon, we don't know
yet. They are throwing men and shells at us and we may not be able to stand
it. They have been shelling us faster than you can count ..."
And after the order, "Execute
Pontiac" -- the surrender order-went out, Strobing tapped on:
"We've got about 55 minutes and I feel sick at my stomach. I am really
low down. They are around now smashing their rifles. They bring in the
wounded every minute. We will be waiting for you guys to help. This is
the only thing I guess that can be done. General Wainwright is a right
guy and we're willing to go on for him, but shells were dropping all night,
faster than hell. Damage terrific. Too much for guys to take ... the jig
is up. Everyone is bawling like a baby ... they are piling dead and wounded
in our tunnel ... I know now how a mouse feels. Caught in a trap waiting
for guys coming along to finish it up
When the white flag of surrender
went up at noon, Strobing tapped on:
"My name is Irving Strobing. Get this to my Mother. Mrs. Minnie Strobing,
605 Barbey Street, Brooklyn, N.Y. They are to get along O.K. Get in touch
with them as soon as possible. Message. My love to Pa, Joe, Sue, Mac, Garry,
Joy, and Paul. Also to my family and friends. God bless 'em all, hope they
be there when I come home. Tell Joe, wherever he is, to give 'em hell for
us. My love to you all. God bless you and keep you. Love. Sign my name
and tell Mother how you heard from me. Stand by ..:'
The text of Private Strobing's
message was read on the Army radio program and was reported in part in
the New York Times the next day.
Perhaps the only soldiers
who can do this are those who operate the communication systems, that is,
if they are so overcome with emotion that they break the rules about using
official communications for personal messages.
One such person was Private
Irving Strobing who was on Corregidor 30 years ago. On May 6, 1942, when
Corregidor was all in shambles, the Japanese were on the "Rock:' and it
was just a matter of time before the defenders would have to surrender,
Strobing tapped his key in the depths of Malinta tunnel:
The official army history
-- The Signal Corps: The Test by George Raynor Thompson, et al. -- rather
stuffily observes that on the day Corregidor surrendered, "a soldier named
Irving Strobing had been filling in the time with poignant if unauthorized
farewells to his family."