Information

General MacArthur returns to the Philippines


After advancing island by island across the Pacific Ocean, U.S. General Douglas MacArthur wades ashore onto the Philippine island of Leyte, fulfilling his promise to return to the area he was forced to flee in 1942.

The son of an American Civil War hero, MacArthur served as chief U.S. military adviser to the Philippines before World War II. The day after Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941, Japan launched its invasion of the Philippines. After struggling against great odds to save his adopted home from Japanese conquest, MacArthur was forced to abandon the Philippine island fortress of Corregidor under orders from President Franklin Roosevelt in March 1942. Left behind at Corregidor and on the Bataan Peninsula were 90,000 American and Filipino troops, who, lacking food, supplies, and support, would soon succumb to the Japanese offensive.

After leaving Corregidor, MacArthur and his family traveled by boat 560 miles to the Philippine island of Mindanao, braving mines, rough seas, and the Japanese navy. At the end of the hair-raising 35-hour journey, MacArthur told the boat commander, John D. Bulkeley, “You’ve taken me out of the jaws of death, and I won’t forget it.” On March 17, the general and his family boarded a B-17 Flying Fortress for northern Australia. He then took another aircraft and a long train ride down to Melbourne. During this journey, he was informed that there were far fewer Allied troops in Australia than he had hoped. Relief of his forces trapped in the Philippines would not be forthcoming. Deeply disappointed, he issued a statement to the press in which he promised his men and the people of the Philippines, “I shall return.” The promise would become his mantra during the next two and a half years, and he would repeat it often in public appearances.

For his valiant defense of the Philippines, MacArthur was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and celebrated as “America’s First Soldier.” Put in command of Allied forces in the Southwestern Pacific, his first duty was conducting the defense of Australia. Meanwhile, in the Philippines, Bataan fell in April, and the 70,000 American and Filipino soldiers captured there were forced to undertake a death march in which at least 7,000 perished. Then, in May, Corregidor surrendered, and 15,000 more Americans and Filipinos were captured. The Philippines were lost, and the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff had no immediate plans for their liberation.

After the U.S. victory at the Battle of Midway in June 1942, most Allied resources in the Pacific went to U.S. Admiral Chester Nimitz, who as commander of the Pacific Fleet planned a more direct route to Japan than via the Philippines. Undaunted, MacArthur launched a major offensive in New Guinea, winning a string of victories with his limited forces. By September 1944, he was poised to launch an invasion of the Philippines, but he needed the support of Nimitz’s Pacific Fleet. After a period of indecision about whether to invade the Philippines or Formosa, the Joint Chiefs put their support behind MacArthur’s plan, which logistically could be carried out sooner than a Formosa invasion.

On October 20, 1944, a few hours after his troops landed, MacArthur waded ashore onto the Philippine island of Leyte. That day, he made a radio broadcast in which he declared, “People of the Philippines, I have returned!” In January 1945, his forces invaded the main Philippine island of Luzon. In February, Japanese forces at Bataan were cut off, and Corregidor was captured. Manila, the Philippine capital, fell in March, and in June MacArthur announced his offensive operations on Luzon to be at an end; although scattered Japanese resistance continued until the end of the war, in August. Only one-third of the men MacArthur left behind in March 1942 survived to see his return. “I’m a little late,” he told them, “but we finally came.”


Shore Party: The Truth Behind the Famous MacArthur Photo

Douglas MacArthur’s anger at being forced to wade ashore at Leyte in October 1944 (above) faded when he saw the powerful photo that resulted.

I conic photos often have their own stories—some real, some myth.

For more than 76 years, questions have swirled around the famous photos of General Douglas MacArthur’s beach landings—first on Leyte, then on Luzon—as American troops returned to liberate the Philippines. Stories persist that MacArthur, no stranger to controversy or drama, staged the photos by coming ashore several times until the cameraman got the perfect shot, or that the photos were posed days after the actual landings. Those who were present say neither of these oft-repeated stories is true. But what really happened is even stranger than these misguided rumors.

MacArthur’s return was the high point of his war. In July 1941 he had been named commander of U.S. Army Forces in the Far East, including all American and Filipino troops in the Philippines. In March 1942, with Japanese forces tightening their grip around the Philippines, MacArthur was ordered out of the islands for Australia. After reaching his destination, he vowed to liberate the Philippines, famously proclaiming, “I shall return.”

By April 1942, Japanese units advancing across the Philippines forced beleaguered Allied troops there to surrender. From then on, the Philippines “constituted the main object of my planning,” MacArthur said. By late 1944 he was poised to fulfill his promise—until an interservice battle threatened to derail his plans.

The U.S. Navy wanted American forces to bypass the Philippines and invade Formosa (now Taiwan) instead. MacArthur objected strenuously, both on strategic grounds and upon his belief that the United States had a moral duty to the people of the Philippines. The dispute went all the way up to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who ultimately sided with MacArthur.

Finally, on October 20, 1944, MacArthur made his long-anticipated return. At 10 a.m., his troops stormed ashore on Leyte, an island in the central Philippines. The heaviest fighting took place on Red Beach, but by early afternoon, MacArthur’s men had secured the area. Secured, however, did not mean safe. Japanese snipers remained active while small-arms and mortar fire continued throughout the day. Hundreds of small landing craft clogged the beaches, but the water was too shallow for larger landing craft to reach dry land.

Aboard the USS Nashville two miles offshore, a restless MacArthur could not wait to put his feet back on Philippine soil. At 1 p.m., he and his staff left the cruiser to take the two-mile landing craft ride to Red Beach. MacArthur intended to step out onto dry land, but soon realized their vessel was too large to advance through the shallow depths near the coastline. An aide radioed the navy beachmaster and asked that a smaller craft be sent to bring them in. The beachmaster, whose word was law on the invasion beach, was too busy with the chaos of the overall invasion to be bothered with a general, no matter how many stars he wore. “Walk in—the water’s fine,” he growled.

The bow of the landing craft dropped and MacArthur and his entourage waded 50 yards through knee-deep water to reach land.

Major Gaetano Faillace, an army photographer assigned to MacArthur, took photos of the general wading ashore. The result was an image of a scowling MacArthur, jaw set firmly, with a steel-eyed look as he approached the beach. But what may have appeared as determination was, in reality, anger. MacArthur was fuming. As he sloshed through the water, he stared daggers at the impudent beachmaster, who had treated the general as he probably had not been treated since his days as a plebe at West Point. However, when MacArthur saw the photo, his anger quickly dissipated. A master at public relations, he knew a good photo when he saw one.

Still, rumors persisted that MacArthur had staged the Leyte photo. CBS radio correspondent William J. Dunn, who was on Red Beach that day, hotly disputed these rumors, calling them “one of the most ludicrous misconceptions to come out of the war.” The photo was “a one-time shot” taken within hours of the initial landing, Dunn said, not something repeated sometime later for the perfect picture. MacArthur biographer D. Clayton James agreed, noting that MacArthur’s “plans for the drama at Red Beach certainly did not include stepping off in knee-deep water.”

The next landing, however, was a different story.

Hoping to replicate the effective walk ashore at Leyte, MacArthur arranged for his landing craft to stop offshore at Luzon, which photographer Carl Mydans captured in this famous image. (Carl Mydans/ The Life Picture Collection/Getty Images)

On January 9, 1945, American troops arrived at Luzon, the main island in the Philippines, catching the Japanese by surprise. Opposition was light. MacArthur watched the landings from the cruiser USS Boise and at 2 p.m.—about four hours after the initial landings—he headed for shore.

Navy Seabees had quickly built a small pier with pontoons so that MacArthur and his staff could exit their vessel without getting wet. On seeing this, MacArthur ordered his boat to swerve away from the pier so that he could wade ashore through knee-deep water as he had done at Leyte. He knew that Life magazine photographer Carl Mydans was on the beach. As he strode toward shore, MacArthur struck the same pose and steadfast facial expression as at Leyte. Mydans snapped the famous photo that soon appeared on the front pages of newspapers across the United States and became what Time magazine called “an icon of its era.” No one, Mydans said later, appreciated the value of a picture more than MacArthur.

There is little doubt that MacArthur chose to avoid the pier—and dry feet—for dramatic effect. “Having spent a lot of time with MacArthur,” Mydans said, “it flashed on me what was happening. He was avoiding the pontoons.” Biographer D. Clayton James wrote that the Luzon landing “seems to have been a deliberate act of showmanship. With the worldwide attention that his Leyte walk through the water received, apparently the Barrymore side of MacArthur’s personality could not resist another big splash of publicity and surf.”

MacArthur, on the other hand, blamed fate. “As was getting to be a habit with me,” he wrote, perhaps with tongue in cheek, “I picked a boat that took too much draft to reach the beach, and I had to wade in.” (continued after photos below)

Editors from Life used Maydan’s other photos to present different view of the famous, widely published Luzon photo, perhaps as a ploy to make readers believe they were seeing something different after being scooped. (Photo by Carl Mydans/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

(Photo by Carl Mydans/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Other circumstances conspired to make it appear that MacArthur had waded in at Luzon more than once. Although Mydans worked for Life, on that day he was the pool photographer, which gave any news organization free license to use the image. On January 20, 1945, a tightly cropped version of the photo, making MacArthur the focal point, appeared in newspapers throughout the United States. When Life ran the photo a month later, editors used the uncropped version, which included other vessels and figures on the periphery and even another photographer in the foreground. Only a sharp-eyed viewer would realize that it was the photo they had already seen in newspapers weeks earlier, giving rise to the impression of repeat photo sessions. Life had also surrounded the iconic photo with other images Mydans had snapped moments before and after that one, including an unflattering shot of MacArthur being helped down the ramp of the landing craft. All of this may have been a ploy by the magazine—having been scooped by its own photographer—to make readers think they were seeing something new and different.

In the end, controversies about MacArthur’s landings will likely continue. “These are stories that once created will keep being told,” Mydans said, “and each new generation will find…some reason for telling it. Usually it’s with delight.” ✯

This story was originally published in the January/February 2017 issue of World War II magazine. Subscribe here.


“I Have Returned!” – General MacArthur and FDR

On Oct. 20, 1944 Gen. Douglas MacArthur waded ashore on Leyte Island in the Philippines and fulfilled his promise to return. The charismatic and dashing General was one of the most famous American military leaders in the world and his dramatic return to his beloved Philippines was a crowning achievement in his relentless battle to drive the Japanese Army out of Southwest Asia. The Universal Newsreel captured the moment.

It was a redeeming moment after the devastating losses the U.S. Army and Gen. MacArthur had endured two years earlier. Despite the early warning given when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Gen. MacArthur’s forces in the Philippines were unprepared on Dec. 8 th when the Japanese Air Force attacked. They destroyed nearly 50% of the American warplanes at Clark Field, most of which were still on the ground. By January the Japanese had driven the Allied forces onto the Bataan Peninsula and the situation was desperate. Gen. MacArthur was forced to move his headquarters to the island fortress of Corregidor. As the situation deteriorated President Roosevelt ordered the General to leave for his own safety. The General and his family and closest aides were forced to escape in the middle of the night and relocate in Australia. When Gen. MacArthur arrived in Australia he made his famous declaration:

“I came through and I shall return.”

President Roosevelt awarded Gen. MacArthur the Medal of Honor for his courageous defense of the Philippines. But in fact the public support masked a deep tension between the President and his most difficult General.

The White House had asked the General to change his declaration from “I Shall Return” to
“We Shall Return” but the General refused. The animus between FDR and Gen. MacArthur goes back many years. As early as 1932, when he was still Governor of New York FDR told a close advisor that he thought Douglas MacArthur was one of the two “most dangerous men in America.”

Franklin Roosevelt and Douglas MacArthur had first met in 1916 as the nation was preparing for the First World War. MacArthur was a Major on the Army’s General Staff and FDR was the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. For the next three decades their paths would cross again and again. President Roosevelt once told MacArthur “Douglas, I think you are our best general, but I believe you would be our worst politician.”

President Roosevelt was furious when he was first told that the U.S. Far East Air Force had been caught “on the ground” when the Japanese attacked. Many military historians have judged Gen. MacArthur harshly for his lack of preparation and the subsequent defeat of Allied forces in the Philippines. Early 1942 was a very dark time for the Allies, with Nazi forces sweeping across Europe and Russia, the Japanese Navy in control of most of the Western Pacific and the British Empire under siege. While there were many reasons to blame Gen. MacArthur for the humiliating surrender of the American and British forces in Corregidor and the brutal Bataan Death March that followed, President Roosevelt applied a different strategy. Always the wise political leader, FDR understood that what the American public needed was a hero, not a scapegoat. So he promoted Gen. MacArthur to Supreme Commander of the Southwest Pacific Forces. In that role the general began preparing for his return to the Philippines.

On Oct. 20 th , 1944 he fulfilled his plans and stepped ashore with the whole world watching. President Roosevelt sent him this telegram congratulating him on his victory.

In fact Gen. MacArthur came ashore while the battle was still raging and against the advice of his senior staff. Always aware of his role as an historic figure, MacArthur delivered his prepared speech with, as Prime Minister Winston Churchill might say, great vigor.

“People of the Philippines: I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God our forces stand again on Philippine soil—soil consecrated in the blood of our two peoples. We have come dedicated and committed to the task of destroying every vestige of enemy control over your daily lives, and of restoring upon a foundation of indestructible strength, the liberties of your people.”

Gen. MacArthur went on to ever greater glory, and he accepted the Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri on Sept, 2, 1945.

By then President Roosevelt was dead, and President Harry Truman now had to manage the difficult General. Douglas MacArthur went on to become the Allies Supreme Commander in Japan. He helped rebuild the country and put in place a functioning democracy that represents one of the post war era’s greatest success stories. It would not be until the Korean War that President Truman and General MacArthur had their great confrontation. But that is a different story.


Related Videos

Manila's V Day

Macarthur Returns To The Philippines Aka Mac Arthur Returns To The Philippines

General MacArthur returns to the Philippines during the invasion.

Macarthur's Return To The Philippines

At the age of 81 the liberator of the Philippines returns for a last visit with his wife to Manila.

General Macarthur "Returns" To The Philippines

GENERAL DOUGLAS MACARTHUR, AMERICA'S COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF IN THE PACIFIC DURING WORLD WAR II, ARRIVED AT MANILA AIRPORT IN THE PHILIPPINES ON JULY 3RD FOR A 10-DAY SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY TO THE SCENES OF SOME OF HIS FAMOUS BATTLES.

Various: General Douglas Macarthur, 84, Ill Again In Hospital -- Library Film Of His Life.

84-YEAR-OLD GENERAL DOUGLAS MACARTHUR -- ADMITTED TO A WASHINGTON HOSPITAL ON TUESDAY (MARCH 3) SUFFERING FROM A "MODERATELY SEVERE JAUNDICE" -- HAS FOR THE LAST HALF CENTURY BEEN ONE OF AMERICA'S FOREMOST MILITARY MEN.

Allied Forces Attack Luzon

MacArthur's forces return to the Philippines

Philippines: Mrs. Marcos Attends 30th Anniversary Celebrations Marking Allies Forces Dahding On Leyte.

United States, Australian and Filipino troops on Sunday (20 October) re-enacted the landing 30 years ago by allied forces in the central Philippines, signalling the liberation of the Philippines from Japanese military occupation during World War II.


Without Chick Parsons, General MacArthur May Never Have Made His Famed Return to the Philippines

Chick Parsons needed sleep. He’d been hack- ing through jungles by day and island-hopping by night for almost four months. His mission in the Philippines—assigned by Gen. Douglas MacArthur himself—was to contact soldiers who had taken to the hills when the Japanese Army defeated the United States on Bataan and Corregidor in the spring of 1942. These scattered fighters, both American and Filipino, had been trying to organize themselves into a guerrilla force that could harass the occupiers throughout the 7,000-plus islands of the Philippine archipelago. They desperately needed medicine, weapons, ammunition and radio gear, and on a clandestine mission in the spring of 1943, Parsons delivered it.

More important, he offered an early sign that MacArthur would make good on the vow he’d issued after retreating from the Philippines. The general was still in his headquarters in Brisbane, Australia, 3,000 miles away, but to the unorganized and information-starved men in the jungle, the presence of his personal envoy whispered: I shall return. “The effect upon the guerrillas (also upon the civilians) was miraculous,” Parsons wrote in a letter to the Philippine president-in-exile, Manuel L. Quezón. “It was touching to observe the gratitude of the men for the supplies. It showed them they were not abandoned, that their efforts were known to and appreciated by General MacArthur—it gave them new life.”

Before World War II, Parsons had been the toast of Manila society, successful in business and unrivaled on the polo field, a gregarious, muscular expat American with a shock of wavy brown hair, a winning smile and an eagle tattooed across the expanse of his chest. Now, he needed respite and time to organize the intelligence he’d amassed in the field. He had ten days to burn before his rendezvous with a submarine that would take him back to MacArthur’s headquarters, so he sought safety in the port town of Jimenez, on the island of Mindanao. One of his many friends, Senator José Ozámiz, had a manor house there, and Parsons set himself up in a second-story room. Between naps, he began writing a voluminously detailed report for MacArthur: guerrilla leaders’ names and abilities their men’s health and morale plans for equipping them to track and report Japanese ship movements where and how to build a bomber base.

The afternoon of Saturday, June 26, was typically steamy, but a breeze off Iligan Bay blew across Parsons’ high-ceilinged room. He was still there at dusk when one of the senator’s daughters stopped by with a warning: A Japanese patrol was near. But there had been a series of false alarms recently, and besides, the Ozámiz house, like many others in Jimenez, had been boarded up on the first floor so it would seem abandoned. Parsons stayed put.

Some time later, he heard an engine idling and a vehicle door thrown open, followed by footfall on the pavement below. At that point, few Filipinos were allowed gasoline or permits to drive. They rode horses, drove ox-drawn carts or walked on their bare feet. Not so the occupying army. “The guerrillas knew—we learned, all of us learned—that they always wore boots, complete equipment,” Parsons recalled years later. “So when you were going down a trail at night and you could hear somebody coming on the trail the other direction, if they were wearing shoes, you knew damn well they were Japanese.”

MacArthur's Spies: The Soldier, the Singer, and the Spymaster Who Defied the Japanese in World War II

A thrilling story of espionage, daring and deception set in the exotic landscape of occupied Manila during World War II.

He had surveyed escape routes as soon as he arrived at the house, according to an account provided by his son Peter. Now, he jumped from his bed, scooped his papers into a shoulder bag and peered down from the corner of a window in his room. Soldiers were circling the house. As they started banging on the boards covering the front door, he bolted downstairs to the darkened archways of the parlor, then toward the kitchen at the back of the house, then out the back door. A pig ambled and snorted nearby, nose to the ground. Parsons vaulted down the steps and past the water well. A soldier spotted him, but not in time to shoot. All he saw was a nearly naked man, with wild hair and beard, bounding over a low concrete wall.

Even before his mission to Mindanao, Chick Parsons had had an eventful war: In the chaotic early days of the Japanese occupation, he remained in Manila with his family to spy for the Americans, and he kept his cover even after he was detained, beaten and almost certainly tortured. After he was released, he brought his family to the United States—and soon heeded a summons from MacArthur to get back into the war. By 1944, he was preparing the way for the Allies’ victory in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, which many historians consider the biggest naval engagement in history.

“He is the main organizer of the resistance movement on the ground,” James Zobel, the archivist at the MacArthur Memorial Museum in Norfolk, Virginia, told me. “He knows all the people, gets them set up in all the military districts and gets them to understand: ‘Unless you follow the rules that MacArthur has laid down, we’re not going to support you.’ It would be hard to imagine anyone other than Parsons accomplishing this. Headquarters has a paper idea of how things should go, but he’s the guy who really gets it implemented.”

And yet Chick Parsons’ name barely registers in accounts of the Pacific war. A few years afterward, he collaborated with a writer, Travis Ingham, on a memoir, Rendezvous by Submarine. While some passages shift into the first person, he shied away from self-aggrandizement. “I am not a colorful figure,” he wrote in a letter to Ingham, “and I wish to be kept out of the story of the guerrilla movement as much as possible.” His modesty may be one reason that the book was never widely read.

I first learned about him while researching the life of another American expatriate caught up in the Philippines’ wartime intrigue, Claire Phillips. A singer and hostess, she wrangled intelligence from Japanese officers who frequented a nightclub she set up in Manila. Phillips’ wartime diary, which I discovered among about 2,000 documents pertaining to her and her allies at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., includes cryptic entries for June 30 and July 3, 1943: “Will be busy for next four days. S. Wilson and Chick Parsons arrived. Must get all to them.” (Parsons and Sam Wilson, an American friend turned guerrilla, were in the vicinity of the capital.) My research ultimately led to my book MacArthur’s Spies, which focuses on Phillips and includes Parsons and the American guerrilla John Boone in supporting roles.

As I wrote it, I came to laugh at Parsons’ self-assessment—“not a colorful figure”—and to feel that his wish to be kept out of the story was too modest by half. Accounts of his World War II service lie fragmented in the reports he filed, records kept by military commanders in the Pacific and documents in the MacArthur Memorial Museum archives. Those records, plus interviews with his son Peter and an unpublished oral history Parsons gave in 1981, help clarify one of the most vital yet shadowy stories of the Pacific war.

Charles Thomas Parsons Jr. was born in 1900 in Shelbyville, Tennessee, but his family moved frequently to avoid creditors. When young Charles was 5, his mother sent him to Manila for a more stable life with her brother, a public health official in the American-run government. The boy received his elementary education speaking Spanish at the Santa Potenciana School, a Catholic school founded in the 16th century. Parsons’ nickname, “Chick,” was perhaps shortened from chico, for “boy.” While he loved his childhood in colonial Manila, Parsons confessed late in life to his son that he never really got over the pain of being sent away. “It hurt him a lot,” Peter Parsons told me. “He asked me, ‘Can you imagine how I felt?’”

He returned to Tennessee as a teenager and graduated from Chattanooga High School. He sailed back to the Philippines as a merchant marine seaman in the early 1920s and shortly got himself hired as a stenographer for Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood, a hero of the Spanish-American War (he commanded the Rough Riders beside Theodore Roosevelt), who was then serving as the U.S. governor general of the Philippines.

Parsons’ business contacts ranged all over the Philippines, making him invaluable to MacArthur’s hopes for organizing Filipino and American guerrillas hiding in the hills. (Guilbert Gates)

Parsons traveled throughout the country with Wood learned Tagalog, the basis for the national language, Filipino, and made friends and visited places beyond the reach of most travelers. Unlike other Americans, he went beyond the society of the colonial elite and formed enduring friendships with Filipinos. In 1924, he parlayed his contacts into a job as a lumber buyer with a California-based logging firm, traveling to make export deals and  extending his knowledge of the islands and his array of friends. While working in Zamboanga, on Mindanao, he met Katrushka “Katsy” Jurika her father was an émigré from Austria-Hungary who owned a coconut plantation and her mother had come from California. Chick and Katsy married in 1928. He was 28, she 16.

The Wall Street crash of 1929 doomed the logging firm, but the next year Parsons became the general manager of the Luzon Stevedoring Co., which exported manganese, chrome, coconuts, rice and other commodities to several countries, including Japan. Chick and Katsy moved to Manila, and he joined the U.S. Navy reserve in 1932, receiving a commission as a lieutenant, junior grade. Their social circle included Jean and Douglas MacArthur, then commandant of the Philippine Commonwealth Army, and Mamie and Lt. Col. Dwight David Eisenhower.

Through 1940 and 󈧭, as economic tensions between the United States and Japan surged, Parsons labored to protect his company’s dwindling export options. Those options ran out on December 8, 1941 (December 7 in the United States), when news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor reached Manila. Before sunrise that day, Adm. Thomas C. Hart, commander of the Pacific Fleet, summoned Parsons to his office and swore him in as an active-duty officer, assigned to naval intelligence in Manila’s port.

Within hours, Japanese bombers destroyed most of the U.S. Army Air Force stationed in the Philippines while its planes were still on the ground. In the following days, Japanese sorties rained ordnance on the port. All Parsons could do was tend to the wounded and carry away the dead. As Japan obliterated U.S. defenses, MacArthur ordered his forces in Manila to retreat to Bataan and Corregidor on Christmas Eve. Parsons stayed behind to supervise a skeleton crew assigned to scuttle ships and destroy other materiel to keep it out of enemy hands. On January 2, 1942, the Japanese Army marched into Manila unopposed.

Parsons retreated—only so far as his house on Dewey Boulevard, where he burned his uniforms and any other evidence that he was a United States Navy officer. But he held on to his Panamanian flag. Because of his experience in shipping and port operations, Panama’s foreign minister had named him the country’s honorary consul general to the Philippines. While the occupation authorities ordered that the 4,000 Americans in Manila be detained at the University of Santo Tomas, they left Parsons, his wife and their three children alone, believing he was a diplomat from Panama, a neutral country.

For the next four months, speaking only Spanish in public and flashing his diplomatic credentials whenever necessary, Parsons collected strategic information, including Japanese troop strengths and the names and locations of American prisoners of war. He also began to organize friends in Manila and beyond for an eventual underground intelligence network that would range through all of Luzon, the largest and most populous Philippine island. But his time ran out  after Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle led a 16-plane bombing run on Tokyo on April 18. The raid left 87 people dead, most of them civilians, and 450 wounded, including 151 serious civilian injuries.

In Manila, the Japanese Army’s feared Kempeitai military police retaliated by rounding up all non-Asian men—including Parsons, diplomatic immunity be damned. They were thrown into a stone dungeon at Fort Santiago, the 350-year-old fortress within Intramuros, the colonial walled city where Chick had lived and played as a child. Prisoners there were routinely beaten with wooden bats, tortured with electric wires and waterboarded. “They pushed me around a little bit, didn’t amount to very much, but it was painful,” Parsons recalled in 1981. Chinese diplomats in an adjoining cell, he said, had it far worse—and one day “they were all marched out of the cell and. beheaded.”

Fort Santiago, the seat of Spanish power in the Philippines since 1571, became a Japanese torture center in World War II. Parsons had played nearby as a boy—and was held there as an adult. (Jes Aznar)

Under interrogation, Parsons admitted nothing. “I had done so many things,” he recalled. “. If I’d admitted to one, they might have taken me out and hung me.” After five days of grilling, Japanese guards sent him without explanation to the civilian detention center at the University of Santo Tomas. Lobbying by other diplomats got him released, and he was taken to a hospital, suffering from unspecified kidney problems—one possible consequence of taking in too much water, as waterboarding victims often do.

Still, the Japanese believed Parsons was Panama’s consul general to Manila, and they allowed him and his family to leave the Philippines in June 1942 in an exchange of diplomatic detainees. In a daring parting gesture, he and Katsy smuggled out documents they had gathered in a diaper bag they carried for their infant son, Patrick.

By the time the Parsons family reached New York on August 27, the Navy had lost track of Chick—he was listed as missing in action. But he reported for duty within days and settled in at the War Department in Washington, D.C., to write a review of his six months in occupied territory.

Late that fall, MacArthur began receiving intermittent radio messages from the guerrillas in the Philippines, declaring they were ready to fight. He had no way of assessing the communications, or even guaranteeing it wasn’t Japanese disinformation. Then the general received word from the Philippines government in exile that his old friend wasn’t missing in action. He cabled Washington: “SEND PARSONS IMMEDIATELY.”

The two were reunited in mid- January 1943 at the U.S. Southwest Pacific Area headquarters in Brisbane. In MacArthur’s office, Parsons recalled, “The first thing he asked was, ‘Would you volunteer to go back to the Philippines?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘You know you don’t have to. You know this is purely a voluntary deal.’” Then he added: “I do need you badly.” Parsons was assigned to the Allied Intelligence Bureau, but MacArthur broke the chain of command and dealt with him directly.

Within a month, Parsons was on a submarine bound for Mindanao. “I don’t want you to be silly about doing anything that would jeopardize your life or get you into the hands of the enemy,” MacArthur had told him before he boarded.

Over Parsons’ months of island- hopping and jungle-trekking, he did what he was told, gauging the guerrillas’ strength, establishing reliable communications and laying down MacArthur’s rules. Guerrilla leaders had been jockeying for rank and power, with some even calling themselves “general.” No more. They were now under the direct command of the U.S. Army, and there was only one general, MacArthur, and he ordered them to avoid taking the offensive against the Japanese for the time being. The guerrillas weren’t yet strong enough, and any attacks by them could bring reprisals against civilians. As he did so, Parsons managed to unite disparate Filipino Muslim guerrillas with Christian fighters in a common effort against the Japanese.

There is strong anecdotal evidence that he took a potentially lethal side trip to Manila.

That May, Japanese Prime Minister Hideki Tojo marched triumphantly through the capital’s streets on his first foreign visit of the war. As the occupation authorities pressed Filipino leaders to serve in a puppet government, they were tightening their hold on the city. It would have been brazen, to say the least, for an American spy to enter, but at least half a dozen people reported after the war that they saw Parsons in Manila that spring.

John Rocha, who was 5 at the time, recalled that a man on a bicycle stopped to give him magazines and candy. “That was Chick Parsons,” Rocha’s father told him. “Do not mention that you saw him.” A bartender at Claire Phillips’ nightclub, Mamerto Geronimo, said he met Parsons on the street, dressed as a priest. Peter Parsons once overheard his father telling a friend, “I really looked the part. I even had the beard. I looked like a Spanish priest.” A Japanese officer said he realized in retrospect that Parsons had used the same disguise to visit his friend Gen. Manuel Roxas—while the general was under surveillance.

Such a visit would have been operationally useful. Roxas was one of the most respected leaders in the Philippines, and although he eventually agreed to serve in the puppet government, he secretly passed information to the guerrillas. But Parsons also would have had a second, entirely personal motive for sneaking into Manila: his mother-in-law, Blanche Jurika. She had refused to leave with the Parsons family so she could remain close to her son Tom, who was fighting with the guerrillas on Cebu and Leyte islands. In Mamerto Geronimo’s recollection, Parsons, in his clerical disguise, was walking down a street close to the monastery where she was staying.


General MacArthur “I have returned” to the Philippines

Landing barges loaded with troops sweep toward the beaches of Leyte Island as American and Jap planes duel to the death overhead. Troops watch the drama being written in the skies as they approach the hellfire on the shore. October 1944 American troops of Troop E, 7th Cavalry Regiment, advance towards San Jose on Leyte Island, Philippine Islands. 20 October 1944.

In March 1942 the Unites States forces on the Philippines had fought a bloody but unsuccessful action against the Japanese invasion. Famously when General MacArthur had then been compelled to evacuate the islands he had declared that “I will return”. Now that US forces were again landing on the Philippines he was not going to let the occasion go without publicity.

General Valdes accompanied General MacArthur and Philippine President Osmeña onto the landing beaches:

Entered Leyte Gulf at midnight. Reached our anchorage at 7 a.m. The battleships, cruisers, and destroyers opened fire on the beaches and finished the work begun two days before ‘A Day’ by other U.S Navy units. The boys in my ship where ready at 9:45 a.m. At 10 a.m. sharp they went down the rope on the side of the ship. Their objective was Palo.

At 1 p.m. General MacArthur and members of his staff, President Osmeña, myself, General Romulo, and Captain Madrigal left the ship and proceeded on an L.C.M for Red beach. The beach was not good, the landing craft could not make the dry beach and we had to wade through the water beyond our knees.

We inspected the area, and at two instances shots were fired by Japanese snipers. General MacArthur and President Osmeña spoke in a broadcast to the U.S. We returned to the ship at 6 p.m. under a torrential rain. We transferred to the Auxiliary cruiser Blue Ridge flagship of Admiral Barbey, as the SS John Land was leaving for Hollandia

MacArthur was now able to declare “I Have Returned”. In a speech, delivered via radio message from a portable radio set at Leyte, on October 20, 1944 he sent this message:

This is the Voice of Freedom,
General MacArthur speaking.

People of the Philippines: I have returned.

By the grace of Almighty God our forces stand again on Philippine soil – soil consecrated in the blood of our two peoples. We have come, dedicated and committed to the task of destroying every vestige of enemy control over your daily lives, and of restoring, upon a foundation of indestructible strength, the liberties of your people.

At my side is your President, Sergio Osmena, worthy successor of that great patriot, Manuel Quezon, with members of his cabinet. The seat of your government is now therefore firmly re-established on Philippine soil.

The hour of your redemption is here. Your patriots have demonstrated an unswerving and resolute devotion to the principles of freedom that challenges the best that is written on the pages of human history.

I now call upon your supreme effort that the enemy may know from the temper of an aroused and outraged people within that he has a force there to contend with no less violent than is the force committed from without.

Rally to me. Let the indomitable spirit of Bataan and Corregidor lead on. As the lines of battle roll forward to bring you within the zone of operations, rise and strike!

For future generations of your sons and daughters, strike! In the name of your sacred dead, strike!

Let no heart be faint. Let every arm be steeled. The guidance of Divine God points the way. Follow in His name to the Holy Grail of righteous victory!

The famous image of General Douglas MacArthur making his return to the Philippines.


MacArthur’s Triumphant Return To Philippines

US #1424 – MacArthur considered the Philippines his second home, having married his wife and raised his child there.

On October 20, 1944, General Douglas MacArthur fulfilled his promise to return to the Philippines.

In 1935, MacArthur was made military advisor to the Philippines, tasked with helping them create an independent army. (The Philippines had been an American colony since the Spanish-American War at the turn of the century). MacArthur established a home there with his family and retired two years later.

Item #M7393 – Grenada Carriacou sheet honor MacArthur.

In July 1941, as tensions were rising around the globe as World War II escalated, President Roosevelt federalized the Philippine army and recalled MacArthur to active duty as commander of U.S. Army Forces in the Far East.

Then the unthinkable happened. The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, forcing America into the war. Ten hours later, the Japanese invaded the Philippines. MacArthur and his men first retreated to the Bataan Peninsula. As the attacks continued, he moved his headquarters to Corregidor, but that too became a target of air raids and other attacks. By February 1942, the situation was bleak and President Roosevelt ordered MacArthur to leave for Australia. Forced to leave his men behind, MacArthur did as he was ordered, but promised, “I shall return.”

US #1424 – Classic First Day Cover.

While MacArthur took over the defense of Australia, 70,000 of his American and Philippine soldiers were captured on Bataan in April and embarked on a death march that took the lives of thousands of men. Corregidor surrendered the following month, adding another 15,000 Allied prisoners. The Philippines were firmly in Japanese control and the Allies had no clear plan for their liberation.

Item #20035 – MacArthur received the Medal of Honor for his service during the Philippine Campaign of 1941-42.

But MacArthur wouldn’t forget his promise. He repeated it frequently in interviews and resolved to follow through. Over the next two years, he won a string of victories in the New Guinea campaign and was ready to invade the Philippines by September 1944. However, Admiral Chester Nimitz, commander of the Pacific Fleet, had planned to strike Japan through a more direct route that wouldn’t involve the Philippines. MacArthur made his case and the Joint Chiefs agreed to invade the Philippines.

US #2838i – Leyte Gulf was the largest naval battle of the war with over 300 Allied ships and 1,500 planes against 67 Japanese ships and 300 planes.

The Allies assembled the largest landing force ever used in a Pacific campaign – more than 300 ships approached the Philippines that fall. Then, on October 20, 1944, MacArthur’s troops stormed the beach at the Philippine island of Leyte. MacArthur waded ashore hours later and declared via radio broadcast: “People of the Philippines, I have returned!”

Item #4902610 – Leyte Gulf proof card picturing Admiral William Halsey, who commanded the Third Fleet there.

The ensuing Battle for Leyte Gulf was one of the greatest naval battles in history. It marked the first appearance of Japanese kamikazes – suicide pilots who would crash planes filled with explosives into Allied warships. In spite of this, the Japanese retreated and wouldn’t launch another major offensive for the rest of the war.

MacArthur continued his drive through the Philippines, liberating his imprisoned troops in January 1945. Though he re-took the capital of the Philippines in March and considered the offensive over in June, sporadic fighting continued until the end of the war in August.


Christmas 1944: The Liberation of Leyte

The iconic photograph of General Douglas MacArthur returning to the Philippines on the beaches of Leyte Island in October 1944. (U.S. National Archives)

Published Jan 1, 2020 4:34 PM by William Thiesen

"People of the Philippines: I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God our forces stand again on Philippine soil&mdashsoil consecrated in the blood of our two peoples. We have come dedicated and committed to the task of destroying every vestige of enemy control over your daily lives, and of restoring upon a foundation of indestructible strength, the liberties of your people." - General Douglas MacArthur, U.S. Army, October 20, 1944

Seventy-five years ago, on December 25, 1944, after a six-week campaign to liberate the Philippine island of Leyte, Allied forces under General Douglas Macarthur were mopping up the last vestiges of Japanese resistance. The invasion of the Philippines was one of the last major land battles of the Pacific War leading up to the surrender of Japan. By the 26 th , MacArthur announced the end of organized resistance on Leyte. It was a fitting Christmas gift to the Philippine people and MacArthur&rsquos forces would pursue the enemy back to the island nation&rsquos capital in Manila.

LST-66 (second from left) and other LSTs debarking troops and supplies on the beaches of Leyte Island, the Philippines. (U.S. Coast Guard Collection)

Coast Guard manned ships, such as LST-66, ensured a steady stream of troops, equipment and supplies to Allied offensives like the Battle for Leyte Island. At 328 feet in length, the LST (short for &ldquolanding ship, tank&rdquo) was a product of British and American engineering genius, and the Allies&rsquo desperate need for amphibious ships in the European and Pacific theaters. The largest of the Allies&rsquo purpose-built landing ships, the LST carried 2,100 tons of troops, tanks, trucks, supplies and ammunition. A crew of 110 Coast Guard officers and enlisted men called LST-66 their home.

In the fall of 1944, the Allies launched one of the most strategically important amphibious operations of the war&mdasha campaign to liberate the Philippines from Japanese occupation. In so doing, General Douglas MacArthur would redeem his pledge made in 1942, before the surrender of the islands, to return and free them. More importantly, Allied control would cut-off the Japanese homeland from vital raw materials, such as the oil reserves located in the Dutch East Indies and Malaya, and isolated Japanese military units holding out as far south as Borneo.

Japanese military leaders knew all too well the strategic importance of the Philippines. Its loss would initiate the final chapter of a retreat to the home islands that had begun in mid-1942 with the Allied &ldquoisland-hopping&rdquo campaign. To hold onto the Philippines, the Japanese military resorted to desperate measures. These included sending the last major units of the Imperial Japanese Navy on a suicide mission to destroy the Allied invasion forces and a new aviation tactic termed &ldquoKamikaze,&rdquo or &ldquoDivine Wind.&rdquo Japanese kamikaze pilots flew one-way missions to crash-dive their fighters and fighter-bombers into Allied ships.

American military leaders decided on Leyte Island as the target of their first Philippine landings. One of the largest amphibious operations of World War II, the Leyte invasion included nearly 430 amphibious vessels supported by aircraft carriers and warships of the Navy&rsquos 3 rd and 7 th fleets. On Friday, October 20, 1944, LST-66 helped land the first of the invasion&rsquos nearly 200,000 troops.

U.S. Army Air Corps employed the P-38 &ldquoLightning&rdquo pursuit fighters in the Pacific theater of operations. (Courtesy of U.S. Air Force)

At Leyte, enemy resistance met Allied forces on land, in the air, and at sea. Entrenched Japanese troops fought U.S. Army units in the jungle while kamikazes crashed into Allied ships and Japanese fleets attacked the Allied armada in world history, Allied warships repulsed Japanese naval forces leaving most of the enemy&rsquos warships damaged or destroyed.

On Sunday, November 12, LST-66 returned to Leyte to land more troops and supplies. At 8:30 a.m., the 66 ran ashore on the grey sandy beaches near the town of Dulag, opened its protective bow doors and dropped its landing ramp. The shoreline had been cleared of enemy defenses, so the LST&rsquos doors remained open for the day to deposit cargo and embark exhausted American troops from the invasion&rsquos first wave. Members of the LST&rsquos crew even had a chance to observe the anniversary of Armistice Day (now known as Veterans Day) a day late at the growing Allied military cemetery located not far from the beach. Little did these shipmates know that several of their number would soon lie in that hallowed ground.

In the afternoon, the 66 embarked men of the 75 th Joint Assault Signal Company. Prior to the initial October landings, this joint Army-Navy reconnaissance unit had been inserted on the Leyte coast to identify Japanese defenses and communicate their location back to the invasion planners. After weeks of living in the jungle on C-rations, the recon men were happy to board a friendly vessel with bunk beds and hot chow. The weary troops made their way to the relative safety of the LST&rsquos stern, out of range of enemy snipers. A lieutenant with the unit even brought aboard a cockatoo perched on his shoulder, which drew a crowd of curious 66 crewmembers.

Throughout November 12, Japanese &ldquoZero&rdquo fighter aircraft had made suicide attacks against the landing ships, so the U.S. Army Air Corps sent up P-38 fighters to protect the vessels. Fast and deadly, the fighter&rsquos manufacturer named the P-38 the &ldquoLightning,&rdquo but the Japanese called it &ldquotwo planes with one pilot&rdquo because of its unique twin-fuselage and center cockpit design. At about 5:00 p.m., with two P-38s hot on its tail, a Zero appeared from behind the mountains on Leyte. The Lightnings hit the Zero with machine gun fire, suddenly broke off their pursuit, and rocketed skyward. A 66 crew member who saw the dogfight from the forward deck, recounted:

"Over the high area forward I saw two P-38 fighters zooming straight up as if to avoid our ship from being gunned down by us. At that very instance [sic],I saw and heard this roaring Japanese kamikaze plane with the meatball markings almost 15 feet directly overhead that is forever imprinted in my brain."

What happened next was a brutal shock to everyone. The wounded Zero zoomed straight for the Army and Coast Guard men gathered on the starboard side of the LST&rsquos stern. In milliseconds, the enemy fighter impacted the LST&rsquos deck, careened across the ship&rsquos aft quarterdeck, sprayed aviation fuel over everything, exploded, and obliterated men and machines. The Zero left a swath of carnage and wreckage in its wake before crashing into the water. The lieutenant and one of his men were killed instantly with another seven Army men severely wounded.

Early photo of LST-66 hero Robert Goldman in his Coast Guard uniform. Goldman will be the namesake for a new Fast Response Cutter. (Courtesy of the Goldman family)

The crash took a greater toll on the ship&rsquos crew, with four Coast Guardsmen killed and seven wounded. All that remained of the parrot were white feathers sprinkled over the twisted metal and mangled bodies strewn about the quarterdeck. In the aftermath, Pharmacist&rsquos Mate 2 nd class Robert Goldman swung into action treating the wounded and dying in spite of his own burns and shrapnel wounds. He was honored with the Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals and will be honored as a Fast Response Cutter namesake next year.

LST-66&rsquos dead were tagged for identification and sent ashore for burial in the same military cemetery that several of them had visited earlier that day. Like the fallen of LST-66, thousands of other Coast Guardsmen serving on the high seas never returned home. They made the ultimate sacrifice and remain part of the Coast Guard&rsquos long blue line of brave men and women who go in harm&rsquos way to defend the freedoms we hold dear.

William H. Thiesen is the U.S Coast Guard Atlantic Area historian.

This article appears courtesy of Coast Guard Compass and may be found in its original form here.

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.


MacArthur, Corregidor, and the Battle for the Philippines

Seventy-five years ago, the Imperial Japanese Army captured Corregidor, the tadpole-shaped island situated at the mouth of Manila Bay in the Philippines, once known as the “Gibraltar of the East.” On a recent trip to the Philippines, a friend and I took a two-hour ferry ride from Manila to the historic island, which has been preserved as a military museum.

In late December 1941, as Imperial Japan’s forces worked their way down the Bataan Peninsula, American and Filipino forces under the command of General Douglas MacArthur retreated to Corregidor, also known as “the Rock,” some two miles across the water and prepared to hold out until reinforcements arrived.

MacArthur’s initial headquarters, called “Topside,” was situated in a building on the summit of the highest hill on Corregidor. That building and several large barracks that housed American and Filipino soldiers were mercilessly bombed and strafed by the Japanese invaders, but still stand today alongside the rubble as memorials to the fierce fighting on the island. MacArthur soon had to find another location from which to direct his forces on the island and on Bataan.

“My new headquarters,” MacArthur later wrote, “was located in an arm of the Malinta Tunnel.” He later described the headquarters as “bare, glaringly lighted, and contain[ing] only the essential furniture and equipment for administrative procedure.” The tunnel, which is now a popular tourist attraction, was carved into the rock of a steep hill and contained hospital wards, ammunition magazines, and storage rooms. It also hosted the president of the Philippines, Manuel Quezon, and his family. The tunnel was 1,400 feet long and about 30 feet wide.

On Corregidor, MacArthur was fearless. During Japanese bombing raids, writes biographer Arthur Herman, MacArthur frequently stood outside in the open “impervious to the destruction around him.” He once told Quezon, who scolded him for taking such risks, that “the Japanese haven’t yet made the bomb with my name on it.”

In Washington, political and military leaders knew that there were no reinforcements on the way to the Philippines, so they ordered MacArthur — against his wishes and repeated protests — to escape from Corregidor and the Philippines and go to Australia where he could organize and lead allied forces in a campaign to retake the archipelago.

There were no reinforcements waiting in Australia either. MacArthur was furious with Washington. He believed, with justification, that Washington had deceived him. He privately criticized President Franklin Roosevelt’s “Europe first” policy. MacArthur, who famously said, “I came through and I shall return,” was determined to keep his promise to retake the Philippines.

Diplomat Brief

Weekly Newsletter

Get briefed on the story of the week, and developing stories to watch across the Asia-Pacific.

Meanwhile, American and Filipino forces were being slowly starved into submission on Bataan and Corregidor. Bataan fell on April 9, 1942. U.S. General Jonathan Wainwright, left in command by MacArthur, had little choice but to surrender the island. On May 6, 1942, at a house (which still stands) located on the side of a small hill near one of the island’s beaches, Wainwright surrendered his forces to Japan’s General Masaharu Homma. It was a humiliating defeat for the American army, and was made even worse by the atrocities that followed in the infamous Bataan Death March.

MacArthur eventually kept his promise, but it took three years for U.S. forces under his command to retake the Philippines. MacArthur first conceived and led a brilliant combined air-sea-land campaign in New Guinea. Then he had to battle with Washington and the Navy to get permission to invade the Philippines. At one point at the close of the New Guinea campaign, he looked to the north toward the Philippines and remarked to an aide: “They’re waiting for me there. It’s been a long time.”

Indeed, American and Filipino prisoners of war and Filipino civilians were desperately waiting for MacArthur. On October 20, 1944, MacArthur’s forces landed at Leyte Gulf, just south of Tacloban. In one of the iconic scenes of World War II, MacArthur waded ashore with aides and the new Filipino president and memorably urged Filipino citizens and guerrilla forces to rally to him against the Japanese occupier:

People of the Philippines: I have returned.

By the grace of Almighty God our forces stand again on Philippine soil – soil consecrated in the blood of our two peoples. We have come, dedicated and committed to the task of destroying every vestige of enemy control over your daily lives, and of restoring, upon a foundation of indestructible strength, the liberties of your people.

At my side is your president, Sergio Osmena, worthy successor of that great patriot, Manuel Quezon, with members of his cabinet. The seat of your government is now therefore firmly re-established on Philippine soil.

The hour of your redemption is here. Your patriots have demonstrated an unswerving and resolute devotion to the principles of freedom that challenges the best that is written on the pages of human history.

I now call upon your supreme effort that the enemy may know from the temper of an aroused and outraged people within that he has a force there to contend with no less violent than is the force committed from without.

Rally to me. Let the indomitable spirit of Bataan and Corregidor lead on. As the lines of battle roll forward to bring you within the zone of operations, rise and strike!

For future generations of your sons and daughters, strike! In the name of your sacred dead, strike!

Let no heart be faint. Let every arm be steeled. The guidance of Divine God points the way. Follow in His name to the Holy Grail of righteous victory!

The fight to retake the Philippines was fierce and savage. Manila fell to American forces, but only after more than 100,000 Filipino civilians had been killed — most slaughtered by the Japanese. More than a thousand American soldiers and more than 16,000 Japanese soldiers died in the battle. Many more were wounded. It was urban warfare at its worst. Some of the fiercest fighting took place on high ground near where the awe-inspiring American Military Cemetery sits today, with its row after row of white crosses.

Bataan was retaken with fewer casualties than initially feared. The next target of U.S. forces was Corregidor. “The Rock,” writes Herman, “was crucial for MacArthur’s strategy.”

In late January and early February 1945, American air and naval forces pounded Corregidor. On February 16, a daring paratroop assault near the old parade ground on “Topside” was followed by a seaborne landing near the Malinta Tunnel. After 12 days of fighting, Corregidor was in American hands. Nearly all of the 6,000-man Japanese garrison were killed some of them committed suicide by attempting to blow up the Malinta Tunnel.

MacArthur returned to his “Topside” headquarters and memorably remarked: “I see that the old flag pole still stands. Have your troops hoist the colors to its peak and let no enemy ever haul them down.” He then extolled, with only slight hyperbole, the men who had originally defended Bataan and Corregidor:

Bataan, with Corregidor the citadel of its integral defense, made possible all that has happened since. History, I am sure, will record it as one of the decisive battles of the world. Its long protracted struggle enabled the Allies to gather strength. Had it not held out, Australia would have fallen, with incalculably disastrous results. Our triumphs today belong equally to that dead army. Its heroism and sacrifices have been fully acclaimed, but the great strategic results of that mighty defense are only now becoming fully apparent. It was destroyed due to its dreadful handicaps, but no army in history more fully accomplished its mission. Let no man henceforth speak of it other than as a magnificent victory.

Today, a visit to Corregidor allows you to go back in time. The bombed-out barracks and batteries are just as they were in 1945. The flagpole mentioned by MacArthur still stands across from a bombed-out building that once served as his offices on Topside. You can walk through portions of the Malinta Tunnel and view some of the side-tunnels destroyed by the Japanese. You can stand on the dock from which MacArthur departed the island. You can see the big guns situated on hilltops that made the island seem impregnable. You can, in other words, walk in the footsteps of heroes.

Francis P. Sempa is the author of Geopolitics: From the Cold War to the 21st Century and America’s Global Role: Essays and Reviews on National Security, Geopolitics and War.


General Douglas MacArthur Landing Area

The return of General Douglas MacArthur to the Philippines during our fight against the Japanese invaders was one of the major turning points in our country's history. The dwindling hope of the Filipinos were rekindled. We were able to stand up again after numerous assaults to our losing forces. To this day, we live in gratitude to General MacArthur for the big role he played in our country's fight for independence.

The landing of General MacArthur in the Philippines is one of the most significant historical events in the country. The dwindling hope of the Filipinos were rekindled when he fulfilled his promise and returned to the country with thousands of armies to help defeat the Japanese invaders.

Where can it be found?

The Landing Memorial of General Douglas MacArthur or also known as MacArthur Landing Memorial Park is located at Red Beach in Barangay Candahug, Palo, Leyte.

Why is it called Red Beach?

The &ldquored&rdquo doesn't refer to the natural color of the beach instead, it is the coast's color after being drenched in blood.

What is its history?

On October 20, 1944, General Douglas MacArthur made his promise to return to the Philippines to help the country fight against the Japanese colonizers. This was where the phrase &ldquoI shall return&rdquo came from.

To fight against the Japanese forces that had overtaken the country, General MacArthur convinced President Roosevelt and Pacific Commander Chester Nimitz to send forces to the Philippines. With the company of President Sergio Osmeña, General Carlos P. Romulo, General Sutherland, U.S Fifth Air Force, U.S Seventh Fleet under Vice Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid and some members of the government, General MacArthur arrived at Red Beach with 225, 000 troops and 600 ships.

The largest marine battle happened in the Gulf of Leyte it was known as the Second Battle of the Philippine Sea. This marine battle was the last battle during the World War II.

This naval battle was actually a campaign consisting of four interrelated battles:

  • The Battle of Surigao Strait
  • The Battle of the Sibuyan Sea
  • The Battle of Cape Enga
  • And the Battle of Samar

What can I see at the tourist spot?

Now, it is called the Leyte Landing Memorial, measuring 4 ½ hectares in land area. The memorial consists of larger than life bronze statues (about 10 feet tall) where President Sergio Osmeña, General Carlos P. Romulo, members of the government and General Douglas MacArthur are standing in a man-made pool.

In front of the statue of General MacArthur are two plaques: at the right hand side is the plaque of &ldquoA Memorial for a Fulfilled Promise&rdquo and at the left hand side is the plaque of MacArthur&rsquos speech when he returned to the Philippines, entitled &ldquoProclamation&rdquo.

What is Gen. Douglas' Proclamation?

To the People of the Philippines:

I have returned. By the grace of the Almighty God our forces stand again on Philippine soil &mdash soil consecrated in the blood of our two peoples. We have come, dedicated and committed to the task of destroying every vestige of enemy control over your daily lives, and of restoring, upon a foundation of indestructible strength, the liberties of your people.

At my side is your President, Sergio Osmena, worthy successor of that great patriot Manuel Quezon, with members of his cabinet. The seat of your government is now therefore firmly re-established on Philippine soil.

The hour of your redemption is here. Your patriots have demonstrated an unswerving and resolute devotion to the principles of freedom that challenges the best that is written on the pages of human history. I now call upon your supreme effort that the enemy may know from the temper of an aroused and outraged people within that he has a force there to contend with no less violent than is the force committed from without.

Rally to me. Let the indomitable spirit of Bataan and Corregidor lead on. As the lines of battle roll forward to bring you within the zone of operations, rise and strike. Strike at every favorable opportunity. For your homes and hearths, strike! strike! For future generations of your sons and daughters, strike! In the name of your sacred dead, strike! Let no heart be faint. Let every arm be steeled. The guidance of Divine God points the way. Follow in His Name to the Holy Grail of righteous victory!

Statues were erected at the site to commemorate the event. During the term of President Ferdinand Marcos, First Lady Imelda Marcos, who originated from the province, developed the memorial site. It was then named Imelda Park but the original name MacArthur Park was restored after the Marcoses left the country. The historic stretch of beach was turned into the MacArthur Landing Memorial Park in time for the golden jubilee of the Leyte Landing in 1994.

How to get there

From Manila, super ferry is serving a route from Manila - Cebu City. From Cebu city you can choose either Cebu Ferries or the Supercat traversing to Ormoc, from there going to Tacloban or you can take a route from Manila going straight to Tacloban City (Capital of Leyte).

From Manila, various bus companies like Philtranco and Eagle Star are providing an air-conditioned or ordinary directly to Tacloban City.

There are flights from Manila to Tacloban City by Philippine Airlines or Cebu Pacific that cost around 1,700 &ndash 2,000.


Watch the video: Macarthur Returns To Philippines 1944 (December 2021).