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Staff Sergeant Howard Longerbone

H Troop, 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment

The humid jungle erupted in artillery and small arms fire, trees bursting all around the men of H troop. Staff Sergeant Longerbone orders his men into position to effectively support the rifle troops in taking the Kapatalan Sawmill, the chokepoint seperating the 7th Cavalry Regiment and their target of Infanta. The fighting was fierce, culmenating in a pitched battle on the floor of the sawmill, however without men like Staff Sergeant Longerbone, the battle could have been lost, resulting in a delay in ending the campaign on Luzon and costing the United States even more lives.

Staff Sergeant Howard Weldon Longerbone was born on August 10th, 1918 in Pickaway County, Ohio to John and Lora Longerbone, though grew up in Mount Sterling in Madison County. He served as a police officer in Mount Sterling, eventually becoming the town's chief of police. On August 15th, 1944, Longerbone was inducted into the army at Fort Hayes, Ohio, training for deployment overseas to fight in World War II. He sailed from California, arriving in the Philippines on April 18th, 1945 before being assigned to H Troop, 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. H Troop was the 2nd Squadron's heavy weapon company, which retained anti-tank guns, heavy mortars, and heavy machine guns to support the entire Squadron during campaign. 

SSgt Longerbone joined the 1st Cavalry Division in the middle of the Luzon Campaign, missing the liberation of Manila and the crippling of the Japanese Shimbu Line. When he joined H Troop, the 2nd Squadron was temporarily assigned to the 8th Cavalry Regiment as they fought to liberate the barrio (town) of Lipa. 2nd Squadron was tasked with mopping-up operations as the 8th Cavalry Regiment advanced. On April 23rd, the 8th Cavalry Regiment and 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment were ordered to assist the 11th Airborne Division in destroying remnants of the Shimbu Line under the command of Japanese General Tomoyuki Yamashita near Mt. Mataasna Bundoc. The reinforced regiment fought fiercely against the Japanese on the mountain for three days when the squadron was returned to its parent regiment, moving from the mountain to Siniloan. Since the beginning of April, the 7th Cavalry Regiment was engaged in fierce fighting near Siniloan, namely on the east and north slopes of Mt. Malepunyo where the Japanese had dug in deep, fighting tenaciously against the American advance.

Click on a photo in this slideshow for a closer look or click on the arrows at the edges of the slideshow to look through the photos.

The Road to Infanta: Kapatalan Sawmill

When SSgt Longerbone reached H Troop, the 7th Cavalry Regiment was preparing to capture the barrio of Infanta, the last pocket of resistance in Southern Luzon and the last remnant of the Shimbu Line. Rallying in Siniloan, the regiment was going to first advance east towards the shore on a dirt road via Famy, the Kapatalan Sawmill, Real and Gumian and then moving north to the final objective of Infanta. The regiment, minus 2nd Squadron, began the operation, taking Famy without resistance, though encountering stiff Japanese resistance in the hills above the barrio around the Kapatalan Sawmill. Scouts indicated that the Japanese main line of resistance was between the Romero and Lagunlan rivers, both retaining steep shores with heavy jungle growth. The terrain mixed with the Japanese buildup at the sawmill required the 7th Cavalry to take it. It was later determined that the sawmill was the Japanese strongpoint protecting the passage through the Sierra Madre Mountains, a common theme of the Japanese defensive tactics on Luzon where they dug in deep in the mountains of the island.

Most of the Japanese forces protecting the sawmill were remnants of various units that were decimated in previous engagements on Luzon. On May 6th, 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment rejoined the regiment, just in time for the assault on the saw mill. On the night of May 6-7, the regiment advanced at dawn on the saw mill, 1st Squadron leading the column and 2nd Squadron in the rear. 1st Squadron secured a bridge spanning the Lagunlan River, setting up defensive positions while the 2nd Squadron advanced further inland to secure a jumping-off point at the base of the ridges beside the dirt road. The regiment then advanced quickly over the steep ridges, securing multiple hills near the sawmill, with 2nd Squadron taking seven. The squadron then shifted to the north, moving around the sawmill to cut off the Japanese escape route. By May 8th, with a mixture of fierce infantry fighting and artillery support, the cavalrymen neutralized the sawmill. The troopers swarmed the compound, defeating the final defenders before preparing to resume moving towards the east coast of Luzon.  

The Road to Infanta: Real & Gumian

The 7th Cavalry Regiment advanced along the dirt road, Route 455 following the Battle of Kapatalan Sawmill before having to abandon them due to the road becoming nothing more than mud. However, losing them so close to the shore, they were easily replaced by amphibious resupply by the 592nd Engineer Boat & Shore Regiment. Before being able to take Infanta, the 7th Cavalry Regiment had to take the barrios of Real and Gumian. Real was taken on May 21st after an intense naval bombardment. An infantry assault assisted by artillery and air support firmly placed the barrio in the hands of the 1st Cavalry Division. Following this was Gumian, defended by 150 Japanese soldiers. Despite putting up a fierce fight, the town was taken on May 23rd. 

Click on a photo in this slideshow for a closer look or click on the arrows at the edges of the slideshow to look through the photos.

The Road to Infanta: Infanta

The Battle of Infanta lasted for two days, May 25-26, ending in an American victory. On May 25th, the garrison of naval infantry retreated from the town, scattering into the mountains with the town being fully put under American control the following day. On May 28th though, remnants of the Infanta garrison assaulted the regimental and squadron headquarters with machine guns, mortars, and small arms but were repulsed by the regimental commander who massed the headquarters troops to form ad hoc rifle companies. On June 1st, the entirety of Luzon was secured and by the end of the month, the 1st Cavalry Division was preparing to land in Japan for occupation duty. The division reported having killed 14,114 Japanese troops and taken 1,199 POWs during the Luzon Campaign.

Occupation of Japan

Following his service on Luzon, Longerbone and the rest of H Troop were redeployed to Japan, taking part in the occupation of Japan. The 7th Cavalry Regiment was boarded at the Japanese Merchant Marine Academy and oversaw garrison duties, along with guarding strategic locations across Tokyo like the Imperial Palace and Bank of Tokyo. 

One of the most important assignments given to the regiment was the protection of the Bank of Tokyo, which housed Japan's supply of gold and silver bullion, along with priceless treasures and other precious metals. Prior to the American occupation, the Japanese had thrown over one hundred gold bars into the harbor, forcing the American military to send navy divers to recover them. On top of this, members of the 7th Cavalry Regiment assisted in conducting the Tokyo War Crimes Trials, the often-forgotten about sibling of the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials. 


Longerbone departed Japan in early March 1946 and returned to the United States on April 4th, being discharged from the army on April 12th, 1946 at Camp Atterberry, Indiana. Following his military service, he worked as a truck driver for a local grain elevator and passed away in 1971 at 52. He left behind a wife and one daughter. 



  • Boudreau, William. “WWII: Pacific.” 1st Cavalry Division History - WW II, Pacific 1941 - 1945, 1996, 

  • Davis, Art H. “An Infantry Regiment in the Attack - Jungle Terrain.” The Armored School, Fort Knox, KY, The Armored School, 1948. 

  • Smith, Robert Ross. United States Army in World War II: The War in the Pacific: Triumph in the Philippines. U.S. G.P.O., 1991. 

  • Wright, Bertram C. The 1st Cavalry Division in World War II. Toppan Printing Co., 1947. 

Author's Note:

  • I'd like to thank Alex Drury, founder of the 36th Infantry Division Archive (, for his help in acquiring the artifacts of SSgt Longerbone. 

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