Cries of "Banzai" rang through the snake infested jungles while the staccato of enemy machine guns, mortars and rifles rolled. The bayonet charges were suicidal but the 158th Regimental Combat Team, the "Bushmasters," repulsed the enemy and advanced. It fought day after day, in critical battles to open the Visayan passages for allied shipping in the Pacific. The merciless campaign lasted two months in terrain laced with tank traps, wire, mines and bamboo thickets. This proud Arizona National Guard unit, organized as the Arizona Volunteer Infantry for the Indian campaigns in 1865, wore its motto, "Cuidado," - Take Care - in jungles six years. Mustering in the great southwestern desert, the unit was mainly "Mexican-American" and North American Indian from twenty tribes. Expanded in Panama, it was one of World War II's few organizations to complete the trail from there to "down under" to Japan. Its shoulder insignia reflects familiarity with the deadly Panamanian Bushmaster snake and the Philippine machete--the bolo. Today, Headquarters Detachment, 158th Military Police Battalion, Tucson, holds the lineage and honors.
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