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On the 64th Year of the Leyte Landing

by Justice for Filipino Amertican Veterans Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2008 at 11:35 AM
jfav_causa@yahoo.com 213-241-0906 337 Glendale Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026

While we in the Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV) are commemorating the 64th Year of the Leyte landing, October 20, 1944- the start of the Liberation of the Philippines with the proper rites at the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center (HPMC) in Vermont and Fountain St in Los Angeles on Oct. 22, 2008 in Los Angeles, it is gratifying to note that even the Americans have unsung heroes. I reprinted an article written by retired general Ramon Farolan about a great American hero, forgotten by his countrymen. The same forgetfulness the American public does to the Filipino World War II veterans. Some people only celebrates victories. They try forget the past nor study its lessons. Let this article speaks for itself.

On the 64th Year of ...
2405551111_dbf65549b7_o.jpg, image/jpeg, 1280x853

JFAV Update

October 20, 2008

On the 64th Year of the Leyte Landing:

Los Angeles – While we in the Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV) are commemorating the 64th Year of the Leyte landing, October 20, 1944- the start of the Liberation of the Philippines with the proper rites at the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center (HPMC) in Vermont and Fountain St in Los Angeles on Oct. 22, 2008 in Los Angeles, it is gratifying to note that even the Americans have unsung heroes.

I reprinted an article written by retired general Ramon Farolan about a great American hero, forgotten by his countrymen. The same forgetfulness the American public does to the Filipino World War II veterans. Some people only celebrates victories. They try forget the past nor study its lessons. Let this article speaks for itself.

*********

Leyte’s unsung hero

By Ramon Farolan

Fourteen years ago, the nation marked the 50th anniversary of the Leyte landings. The celebration was highlighted by a re-enactment of the actual landing by more than 4,000 US Marines and airmen brought in specially for the occasion. They were joined by units of the AFP and elements from Australia.

A few months earlier, a similar commemoration was held in France to mark the 50th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Europe. At Normandy, the United States was represented by President Bill Clinton. Chancellor Helmut Kohl of Germany was not invited and even their diplomats were kept out of the guest list for the receptions and other activities lined up for the great event.

In the case of Leyte, Secretary of Defense William Perry and Gen. John Shalikashvili, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were the highest officials from the United States. Japanese war veterans were invited to participate in the program, specifically in a “joint WWII veterans military salute.” Also, Japan was officially invited to the ceremonies but declined to send any representative other than the resident ambassador.

I leave it up to the reader to figure out why the difference in the guest list of the two events, both of which were landmark invasions of World War II. One excluded the enemy; the other embraced their former foes.

The Leyte landing

The Leyte landings which kicked off the campaign to liberate the Philippines were the result of one man’s pledge to return to this country. When Gen. Douglas MacArthur arrived in Australia from Corregidor in 1942, he declared, “I came through, and I shall return.” Those last three words, “I shall return,” represented a personal commitment which would be adopted by the American people in the face of opposition from members of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Among the senior American officials, Gen. George Marshall, Army Chief of Staff, Admiral Ernest King, Chief of Naval Operations, and Gen. Henry Arnold, Chief of Staff, Army Air Corps, were seriously considering heading for Formosa. MacArthur’s position was for the liberation of the Philippines. In the end, MacArthur was able to convince President Franklin Roosevelt to honor his “I shall return” pledge.

While MacArthur got most of the credit and publicity for the Leyte offensive, not much has been written about the US Army field commander, Gen. Walter Krueger, who actually carried out on the ground the successful campaign to reclaim the Philippines from Japanese control.

In the latest Quarterly Journal of Military History, author Rod Paschall refers to Krueger as MacArthur’s forgotten field commander. During World War II, the Americans had 14 field commanders and the oldest was General Krueger who led the 1944 Leyte invasion.

General Walter Krueger

Walter Krueger was not a West Pointer or an ROTC graduate. He was born in Germany and after migrating to the United States he joined the US Army as a private. During the Spanish-American war, he rose to the rank of sergeant. Transferred to the Philippines, he saw action against Filipino rebels fighting for independence. His performance earned him a battlefield commission as a second lieutenant; in a way, this experience prepared him for his greatest challenge some 40 years later.

For the Philippine invasion, Krueger organized two special units: the Alamo Scouts, and the Sixth Ranger Battalion. The Scouts were made up of teams consisting of two officers and five enlisted men capable of remaining behind enemy lines for weeks at a time.

The Ranger Battalion was for special operations. Both would specialize in daring raids, reconnaissance missions and in rescuing allied prisoners in Japanese POW camps. An example of their operations was the brilliant, near-flawless raid on the Cabanatuan prison camp, resulting in the release of 511 American and allied prisoners at a cost of only two Rangers killed.

Gen. Rafael Ileto, a former AFP vice chief of staff, served with the Alamo Scouts during the war and when he rejoined the AFP, he organized the First Scout Ranger Regiment. Former Defense Secretary Ernesto Mata and Gen. Tomas Karingal were pioneers in this Ranger Regiment.

On Oct. 20, 1944, the Sixth Army landed on the beach of Leyte with MacArthur wading ashore and proclaiming, “I have returned.” But it was the work of Krueger, relying on daring raids and sound battlefield judgment, that led to Japan’s defeat in Leyte. Japanese losses were 56,600 killed or captured, as against only 3,000 for the Sixth Army or a kill ratio of 19 to 1. By Christmas Day, organized resistance on Leyte ended.

Despite earlier criticism by MacArthur who at times was not satisfied with Krueger, when it came to prepare for the invasion of the Japanese homeland, MacArthur with 14 Army field commanders to choose from decided on Krueger for this greatest mission of the Pacific War.

The use of the atom bomb would render unnecessary what undoubtedly would have been a long and bloody campaign.

********

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