The 3ACS LSTs headed south west through a passage marked in a minefield . Two mines were sighted and exploded en route before the LSTs were in position for the run into the beach next morning. Shellfire on the beach and enemy air activity added to the tension. Breakfast was at 4am. At dawn the men could see Mindoro dead ahead, the red roof and black stack of the San Jose sugar mill standing out behind the beach markers. Enemy aircraft attempted to harass the landing, but met accurate antiaircraft fire. As the infantry landed and penetrated inland enemy aircraft were sighted overhead. Five were shot down by anti aircraft fire. Two LSTs were hit by diving suicide bombers as 3ACS landed on White Beach at 8.45 am on 15th December.
The unit was the first to unload, but, according to the Filipinos they were late the landing had been expected on the 12th. Without delay, the surveyors established the centre line for airfield `A2'. The squadron, disorganised by lack of communications and with plant spread out or bogged on the route to its allocated campsite, established a temporary overnight bivouac. Half hourly enemy raids continued throughout the night. Next morning the squadron moved to its permanent campsite.
The squadron commenced work on the `A2' taxiway on 16 December. It was a day of high drama. A suicide bomber in Magarin Bay hit the command cruiser. Casualties were heavy. Colonel Hill, the Task Force Chief of Staff was killed one of 350 casualties. 3ACS also suffered its first casualties. Leading Aircraftman W.E. Barham was killed by debris from a suicide plane, which attempted to dive through the open doors of an LST on Red Beach, and Leading Aircraftman P. Cutajar suffered from petrol burns in the same incident.
3ACS combined with the 866th and 1874th Aviation Engineer Battalions to construct the `A2' airfield (now named Hill Field) near San Jose. Work commenced on the main runway on 17th December. Three days later 15 Dakotas landed on the airfield, confirming the urgency of the requirement. This was also reflected in the shifts worked only two and a half hours each day were allocated as non productive.
The defending Japanese did not abide by the invader's plans. During daylight hours the beachhead was under constant threat from enemy aircraft and surface units. Overhead the P 38 Lightnings, P 47 Thunderbolts, and Navy Corsairs countered the incursion of Japanese fighters and suicide bombers. Squadron Leader A. Overland has left a graphic account of one dogfight. On 20 December he records that there was.