Skip to main content

tv   511th Parachute Infantry Regiment 1945 Los Banos Raid  CSPAN  April 11, 2021 12:55pm-2:02pm EDT

12:55 pm
good evening, everyone and welcome. once again to the macarthur memorial tonight. we commemorate the anniversary of the liberation of los banos and tournament camp in the philippines. it is a 76th anniversary 23, february 2021 of this event that happened in 1945 tonight. we are very happy to have with us author jeremy holm. he wrote the book when angels fall which outlines the history of the 511 parachute infantry regiment of the 11th airport and division during world war ii. this was the unit that along with filipino gorillas liberated over 2,000 civilian attorneys at los banos in 1945.
12:56 pm
it's a great program. it's a great book. we're very glad to have jeremy holm with us. and so we hope you enjoyed tonight's program and as always join us after the presentation for a question and answer period with the author jeremy holm. thanks a lot. well, thank you for joining us today. you know, i'm grateful to the macarthur memorial for this opportunity, and i'm honored to share this time with everyone today to discuss the los banos raid. this has to be one of the world war ii's most fascinating operations, and i kind of share in some of the sadness of the rescuers who are still alive and told me they wished more people knew what had happened 76 years ago when i first heard about the los banos raid for my own grandfather who as a young lieutenant served in the 511 parachute infantry regiment world war ii before he was wounded over the years. he and i had a lot of conversations about the war and the 511 role in the pacific theater and and any passed away
12:57 pm
in 2016 at almost 99 years of age and i miss him every day and my grandfather was my hero, but it led to an incredible opportunity to get to know many of the last living paratroopers from this regiment and some of the other members of the 11th airborne division, you know, when was asked to speak on this this ray the anniversary of it like a really excited now grandpa was fiercely proud of his regiment and the airborne division itself. one day he told us about the time the division rescued over 2100 men women and children from behind enemy lines. it it was a story that really started my journey into researching the 11th airborne division and becoming a unit historian. it also led to me publishing a book on the 511 parachute infantry regiment, which i'll mention a little bit later on, but i hope today that what i share will help honor the rescuers and the rescued and inspired greater interest in that fateful day 76 years ago.
12:58 pm
you know as secretary of the army john o marsh once said the los banos raid deep behind japanese lines ranks among the most daring and successful in our nation's history. now the story of los banos and really begins in december of 1941 when japan invaded lusan and made their way into manila among the american forces that remained in the city were actually 11 naval nurses who elected to stay behind in 10 to the wounded. they were known as the sacred eleven and they were known for their kind encouraging spirits, but eventually they became prisoners of the japanese now the nurses were were taken first to the santo tomas internment camp, but 14 months later. they volunteered to go help set up a clinic at a new camp and the shores of laguna de bay, which we know as los banos the los banos camp in may of 1943 the sacred eleven were transported to the agricultural college of the university of the philippines outside of los banos itself.
12:59 pm
there they help dr. dana nance set up a small clinic which eventually would see an average of 200 patients a day. now by december the camp's population was around 1,000 and at the time they could still buy extra food and supplies from the people of los banos so compared to some other camps on luzon things were not too bad but that really changed in early 1944 with the arrival of lieutenant sadaki konichi, you know if there's a villain in this story his name would be sadaki konishi kenishi was described as about five foot seven sadistic ferocious ignorant and brutal he had an intense hatred for the white race. well, he was only second in command the camp commandant really left the running of the camp to konishi which i had terrible repercussions for the internees. konichi openly stated that he wished to starve his prisoners to death and then he said by the time i'm through you will be eating mud now konishi. withheld the red cross food packages from the attorneys, and he also reduced their food
1:00 pm
allotments and then he refused to allow them to go out and buy more supplies from the local population anyone who was caught doing so was shot and several were one day after months of misery. konnichi told her hungry prisoners that he had sacks of rice that they could have if they would carry that carry them over to their kitchen. so some of the weekend men in the camp volunteered to do so in these sacks were 100 pounds, which to the attorneys felt like a ton, but they managed to do this and they got to their kitchen with all the sacks of rice. and then konichi said i changed my mind. you have to carry them back which they did and it was just it was devastating for the internees, but it just kind of shows the the daily malice that they were living under nurse dorothy still who was one of the sacred eleven. she said, you know by march of 1944 the spirit at los banos changed the camp just fell apart and the food situation really deteriorated after that now things only got worse when another 500 internees arrived in april followed by another 500 in july and 150 more in december.
1:01 pm
so this brought the kansas population to about 2000 which which was putting a tremendous strain on the artery reduced food availability and the sanitation conditions and and their small hospital. with camp so crowded the internees had to build some bamboo and and sawali barracks which fit 100 people each and you can see this picture. they weren't very big for 100 people this really left the internees with about three feet by three feet by seven feet of of living space, you know, as one intern. he said privacy just did not exist at los banos, you know, so so who were these internees and in reality? they were just every day men and women and children who happen to be living on loose on when japan invaded they're only crime was that they were foreign and the majority were americans but other nationalities included british australian canadian dutch norwegian polish french and italian, you know, they were school teachers. they were mechanics engineers
1:02 pm
secretary missionaries, there were nuns and priests and teenagers and children they ranged an age from you know, newborn to to advanced in years shall we say, but they learned that they had to work together to survive, you know, they organized classes for the children. they had sports in the beginning when they had had the energy to do so even had plays outside, but after july of 1944, you know, 300 priests and nuns and other missionaries came into the camp and they started having you know, 130 masses a day and their makeshift chapel and it was kind of funny because you know, all the clergy were in the the southwest corner of the camp, which they called vatican city which all the internees then said the rest of the hell's half acre. but by december of 1944 things were really starting to look bleak, you know, relentless hunger pains kept the internees awake at night, you know, konichi's guards were just becoming even more hostile and diseases were taking lives every single day so all but the most optimistic internees were
1:03 pm
starting to wonder if anyone would even still be alive when the allies reached the front gates. and and we have to remember the internees could hear the battle for manila going on. i was about 40 miles to the northeast, but they had hidden radios that reported that the allies had indeed landed on luzon and at night they could watch the artillery flashes in the sky and during the day they could see the allied planes flying overhead. so everyone believed that help would eventually come. they just didn't know if it would come in time and as internee terry talbot wrote. she said we prayed in desperation that god would send his angels and all the hosts of heaven to rescue us and this picture that you see here. it's kind of a famous picture 16 year old margaret squires the young girl that you see standing kind of in the right she noted in her secret journal the grave diggers are working overtime. the army must come soon. now, this is a really interesting photo because it was actually taken by japanese photographer who wanted to use it for propaganda. now margaret's mother is the
1:04 pm
woman you see there washing her hair. she knew exactly what the japanese wanted. so she whispered to margaret. don't smile and don't look at the camera. so rather than appease the enemy. both women defiantly look down. so while their spirits were still strong their bodies were starting to give out some reported losing up to 50 pounds. a body weight as lieutenant konichi reduced their rations even further down to 150 grams of unhust rice a day. no wonder the internees were secretly trading jewelry watches pens, you know, whatever. they had a value with the guards for for extra food just to say alive. they also augmented their diet with slugs worms cats rats dogs and leaves. you know, they even put up a sign half joking, but half serious that said keep off the weeds. we eat them things were so bad at the time that reverend william mccarthy said at the time of our rescue the camp
1:05 pm
doctor told me that most of the internees would have died of starvation within one month, you know, the internees were also worried that the guards could simply just shoot them all and abandon the camp so death was a constant reality for these these men women and children in camp and you know the japanese initially built wouldn't picnic tables for their prisoners prisoners to eat on but as time progressed that would had to be used to make coffins to bury their dead. so the fight for survival at those baños, it was coming to a high point in late 1944, you know one catholic priest said if we're going to get out of this alive, we better pray and a nearby nun said if we're going to get out of this alive. god will have to send the angels. which i find very ironic because little did they know that the 11th airborne division the angels. would soon be on their way, you know, let's leave the internees behind for a few minutes and let's let's kind of switch gears and go and talk about the other main characters in the story of los banos, and that would be the angels lead the 11th airborne
1:06 pm
angels. the 11th airborne division was formed at camp mccall, north carolina on february 25th 1943. that was just three months before the first internees arrived at the los banos internment camp now the 11th. airborne was an elite highly trained unit commanded by major general joseph swing. he was one of america's most experienced and respected airborne commanders of the time and his division was relatively small it only had about 8,000 men in it, but the general set high standards. he expected everyone in his command to meet those standards. and you know thinking ahead of where what operations he might be asked to perform with his men. he cross trained his glider troops to be parachute qualified and then he made his paratroopers become glider certified which they hated of course, but this actually made the 11th airborne one of the most parachute qualified divisions in the us army at the time. now one of general swings main core combat units was my
1:07 pm
grandfather's 511 parachute infantry regiment, which included some of the divisions most capable soldiers, but once he got to know those soldiers general swing joked, they were the greatest men in the world to go to war with and the last people in the world. i'd take home to date my baby sister now the 511 formed in january of 1943 at historic camp, toccoa, georgia under colonel orandi hard rock haugen a colonel halgan was one of america's first parachute officers and before he was assigned command of the 511. he served alongside some legends and airborne history including william miley william yarbrough robert singh and william ryder. you know given his experience hard rock understood what parachute troops could and would be asked to do in the war. so he wanted men who were intelligent athletic fearless and bold. you know, he set incredibly high standards even higher than general swings and they were so high that out of 12,000 men that volunteered for the 511 hard rock only accepted 3,000 and
1:08 pm
then out of that 3,000. he narrowed it down. to about 2200 almost the same number of men as there were internees at los banos at the time of the rescue hard rock pushed his men hard in training which included daily runs up and down the famous mount curry, you know, and that actually led one of the paratroopers to say he spent his time at camp toccoa sweating blood. you know passing all of hard rocks requirements gave the remaining paratroopers and understandably high level of confidence. which well, let's just say in the future would cause some headaches amongst other division units, but one of the paratroopers explained we were felt to be mavericks and troublemakers and prone to feel superior to the rest of the division, which of course we were now the men of the 511 to understood that they had joined an elite unit that they could take extreme pride in they were told that they could handle twice the amount of enemy as any other unit and their non-coms repeatedly said you'll be able to chew razor blades and spit nails. you know and and hard rock
1:09 pm
himself told his men when the bullets start flying you will know that you are physically tough and mentally prepared for the shocks. and real hardships of war and the hardships of war were not that far off about a year and a half of intense after about a year and a half of intense training stateside, you know, colonel haugin's 511 sailed from california over to new guinea where they they really spent about six months from nate from may to november of 1944 in theater training this was this was the same period that things were really starting to take a turn for the worst at low spanios. now the 11th airborne was in the pacific partially at the request of general macarthur who didn't have an airborne division in his theater at the time and he wanted one. so macarthur whom the angels they called him five stars, and he would actually maintain a close relationship with general swing's men all the way to tokyo. but you know, that's a discussion for another day. now in late november of 1944 while the los banos in chinese were fighting to survive the
1:10 pm
11th. airborne division was fighting from one side of the island of latey to the other and i don't want to spend a lot of time on that campaign today because we're focusing on los banios, but i do want to convey just how brutal this this campaign was for the angels especially for the 511th pir general swings men were fighting in ladies jungles and mountains during monsoon season. so they experience the typical pacific monsoon rains and muddy foxholes and and really cold nights because they were high in the mountains, but they also had to deal with of course, you know, the the japanese, you know, it's attacking like ghosts are the darkness and dropping grenades and their foxholes and bonds i charging their lines and the angels had to you know, go up against, you know, reinforce positions at the enemy had built on the island, you know, and on top of all that my grandpa said, you know, they didn't get a lot of resupply so they spent seven days without anything to eat, you know, they, you know roots and ber. they can find. um, it was just it was a miserable campaign and and you
1:11 pm
know, the officer said men never lost morale. but afterwards after the war, of course one of the angels said after laity hell was a vacation, you know, the 511's campaign on late. he only lasted 33 days during which hard rocks men and the 11th airborne division as a whole eliminated, you know about 6,000 of the enemy on that island, you know, it came at a cost though before coming down from the mountains on on christmas day of 1944. the 511 2200 men would suffer 409 casualties, which was 75% of the divisions casualties on laity. you know general swing may have questioned the character the 511 before laity, but afterwards he knew that his men would stand in and fight and get things done. and so did general macarthur he met with two of the paratroopers on laity and and he said tell your boys. that i'm real proud of the 11th airborne. you know this photo was taken at one of the 511 cemeteries in the late mountains and you know the
1:12 pm
first time i saw it just kind of stopped me in my tracks. to really see. the cost of freedom that was being paid in the pacific to to free people's that you know, these young soldiers didn't even know but they wanted to experience them to experience liberty so while the los banos internees were burying their dead their future rescuers were doing the same on laity. know jim holsum of b company who would actually take part in the raid in a short time. he said this cemetery was just the saddest place on earth now something happened in december of 1944 that really starts to bring our our two sides to the story together the 11th airborne division and the attorneys at los banos, you know, there was a farmer from latey who went up to manila. who sailed to manila and he was getting medicine for his wife and he happened to pass by the louis baños camp and he looked and he saw these men in these women and children in just terrible conditions. and so we went back to latey and he ended up in the 11th airborne division's headquarters.
1:13 pm
and he went and he stood before the g2 henry and he said they're dying. now. this was for the angels the first time they'd heard about los banos, but henry mueller actually started gathering some what information he could just in case the angels would be asked to perform an operation to rescue those people, you know a few weeks later on january 31st, 1945 the 11th airborne division landed on southern luzon and then they pushed north into manila to take part in the bloody battle to liberate that city now i covered this campaign in greater detail in my book, you know when angels fall but in three weeks the angels successfully broke through japan's, you know defensive genco line. they took nichols field fort mckinley the manila polo club historic intramuros mabato point and so on, you know, general mccarthur said the fighting was of the fierce's sort. and while the the under strength 11th airborne achieved incredible victories during the battle for manila again, it came
1:14 pm
at a cost especially within the 511 pir. to give you an idea on february 10th two weeks before the los banos raid. my grandfather's d company was finally given a break from the front lines. captain stephen kavanaugh selected an assembly point to the rear where they could clean up get a hot meal and so forth, you know, he'd been awake pretty much for that whole week and his nerves were just frayed from that plus combat and you know, he grew frustrated with what he thought was a delay in assembly for his company. and so he proceeded to chew out his first sergeant for what he thought was just you know, the men being slow. and any and and first sergeant paul farnsworth looked at captain kavanaugh, and he just has hollow look in his eyes and he said sir. that's all there is. everyone else was gone in less than a week d company had sustained almost 40 casualties one-third of the company strength and other companies.
1:15 pm
are approaching 70% casualties. which is part of the reason when the 11th airborne division moved to perform the los banos raid, the 511b company was selected because they had the most men. you know even colonel haugen himself would be wounded on luzon mortally actually, maybe wounded in the chest and then he would die on february 22nd one day. before his boys performed their famous raid on los banos. and while the angels were fighting in manila the famous liberation of the santo tomas internment camp took place and on february 7th general macarthur visited the camp along with general robert eichelberger. now general macarthur was genuinely concerned for all the pows and internees on luzon. he knew also that there were still 2,000 internees imprisoned at los banos, and he knew that that fell under general eichelberger's area of command and so he told macarthur told eichelberger get those people
1:16 pm
out of there as soon as possible. well who did eichelberger give the mission to general joseph swing and his 11th airborne division angels general eichelberger wrote to his wife emilina. i am very keen about this 11th airborne division. they are small and number but they are willing to fight but there was a problem general swing accepted the mission wholeheartedly but his division his under strength division was still heavily engaged in manila. so he asked for and got permission to postpone the raid until his men were in a better place to effectively pull it off. that does not mean the angels would ignore the attorneys at los banos entirely for the time though general swings g2 henry mueller. remember he'd been collecting evidence and intelligence on the los banos camp. since december and now as efforts kicked into high gear. his main sources of information included filipino gorillas which provided vital details on the camp's workings and the condition of the internees and i
1:17 pm
cannot emphasize enough. just how much local forces led to the success of the los banos raid. aerial reconnaissance missions were also flown over the camp which helped colonel mueller and his staff kind of start to sketch out a camp a layout of the camp, but perhaps some of the most valuable assets for mueller were a handful of internees who actually risked death to escape the camp and then contact local filipino. gorillas. um these heroic men improve the angels assessments of the camp and the internees conditions one in turning in specific miles. you know, who's an engineer any had more or less a photographic memory. so he helped the angels really fine-tune their their layout map of the camp and he could pinpoint where the machine gun in placements were in the guard routes and so forth, but he also had one more crucial piece of information. now pete told colonel mueller that the japanese guards exercised every morning from 6:45 to 7:15.
1:18 pm
what's more the guards actually locked their weapons up in the barracks? while they were doing their exercises, so only a nominal force would be armed if the angels decided to attack between 6:45 and 715, which is exactly what they're the angel's planners decided to do now one last source of intel was grouped which played a critical role on the day of the of the los banos raid itself, and that was the 11th airborne divisions recon or ghost platoon, you know, this was an all-volunteer group. that was highly trained in scouting and observation behind enemy lines, you know, they were tremendously effective in the lady campaign and then the luzon campaign so far and and everyone in the division regarded them as as capable fighters sergeant martin squires noted, we were mostly college men outdoorsman crazy as hell now. i want to point out an interesting component of the los banos history martin would take part in the raid, but then after the war he actually married one of the internees that he rescued, you know, margaret
1:19 pm
whitaker squires the young girl that we talked about earlier and you know, just a beautiful love story now five days prior to the raid the recon platoon set up on faculty hill overlooking the camp and they sent updates back to colonel mueller as did some filipino gorilla groups. they're also watching the camp and one thing that concerned everyone was that the japanese had local laborers dig a large pit and the camp southwest corner, which you can see on this map here now everybody knew that the japanese guards could slaughter the internees at any time. so on in february 21st 11th, airborne's headquarters received the following message urgent have received reliable information that -- have low spaños scheduled for massacre the supposed date for the massacre, february 23rd. just two days later. there was no time to waste the angels would have to put their plan into action before everyone in los banos was killed now this map shows the 11th airborne's overall plan, and i'd like to walk you through all the elements that had to harmonize
1:20 pm
for mission success first prior to the raid the recon platoon would sail undetected across laguna de bay and meet up with supporting guerrilla units. and the recon men and the filipinos would then spend all night hiking to their assigned positions outside the camp to strike enemy and placements and guards at 0700 on february 23rd. next the 511 pir is b company was selected to jump onto a drop zone just outside the camp at 0700. they would then rush to help the recompl platoon and the filipino gorillas eliminate the japanese defenders. now b companies commander was a young lieutenant john ringler who had just taken over the company, but was fully entrusted to get the job done. now, i recently discovered the photo that you see here and all evidence points to it being the only photo in existence of b company prior to their jump on los banos. i'm thrilled to share that with you today and i can only imagine the levels of excitement and
1:21 pm
anxiety that those boys felt the afternoon before the raid now while the recon men gorilla forces and b company assaulted the camp 54 amtraks. would ferry the bulk of the 511's first battalion across laguna de bay to take part in the rescue. now joining first battalion would be battery d of the 457th parachute field artillery battalion as well as some men from the 127th airborne engineers and they would help delay any japanese forces in the area. that would be moving to attack the camp now lastly with between 8 and 10,000 soldiers of japan's eighth division in the vicinity general swing sent a diversionary blocking force under colonel robert shorty sole towards los banos and this this blocking force would cross the colombo river and then they would try to make as much noise as possible to keep the spotlight off the lowest. us raid the task force would then fight its way to the camp then egress with the 511's first
1:22 pm
battalion while the internees shall shuttle the cross laguna de bay on the amtraks now, i have simplified each mission component for the sake of time, but i want to emphasize the very real dangers that the rescuers in the internees faced in this operation. if the japanese guards discovered the raid beforehand, they could quite easily just kill everyone and if enemy forces in the area mobilized, well, they could then swoop in and with their superior numbers overwhelm the rescuers and the internees in fact due to all these potential hazards b company was told that mission success would be declared. if only one-third of the internees made it out alive. but the battle hardened angels were not intimidated at all. lieutenant ringler noted everyone had the attitude and not only can be done. it will be done and once word of the mission got out paratroopers from across the regiment were begging for a seat on those c-47s and i can say that there were a few non-b company men who
1:23 pm
snuck on board. so what exactly happened on that faithful morning 76 years ago. well first the 11th airborne's recon platoon and the filipino companions crawled to within meters of their assigned targets. you know three minutes to seven a japanese century shot at a small animal which led the filipino gorillas and the recon men to think they'd been spotted. so three minutes before schedule. they opened fire on the centuries and began assaulting the machine gun emplacements and made for the front gate. then at seven o'clock lieutenant ringler led a reinforced b company on their jump onto the dz outside the camp dropping from just 400 feet. the paratroopers quickly rushed towards the camp eliminating machine gun nest on the way and then moved in to help eradicate the final guards. meanwhile, the surprised internees crouched in their barracks some still eating their breakfast. as bullets flew overhead many prayed while others shouted they've come they've come with the guards dead or escaped the
1:24 pm
recon men and b company rushed through the camp yelling for the internees to get ready to leave sister louise. kroger said we thought each men an angel and a giant one at that. they were massive compared to our malnourished men in camp. now several priests fell to their knees in prayer which caused one paratrooper to touch one of the pre-shoulders and said come on, father. let's get the hell out of here. another trooper was surprised when he rushed into the barracks and a woman asked if he was a marine he said hell, no, i'm a paratrooper. and then she replied with disappointment all my days at los banos. i have dreamed of being rescued by a marine and you're not a marine. course he helped her anyway. another internee cried out. it's been a long time we have waited for just such hollywood american stuff. well stories like these abound but it wasn't long after that. somebody shouted japanese tanks, which of course got every raiders attention, but luckily it was just the amtraks which
1:25 pm
had finally arrived carrying the bulk of first battalion which which unloaded to help the internees get moving, but the former prisoners were a little busy they were they were celebrating some were actually still cowering in their barracks. they were too scared to move. someone wanted to gather their meager belongings there were some who actually wanted to have tea with their rescuers. lieutenant ringler and 1st battalion's major henry burgess discussed the dangers of lingering in camp. if the japanese forces were on the way the angels and the internees had to move fast or risk serious losses. and then they noticed that some of the internees were moving away from a few of the burning buildings. so in the need for haste the angels decided to increase the number of fires, which that seem to get people moving. after loading up 130 of the sick and feeble and amtraks plus some of the women and children the angels organized the healthier internees for their march down the highway of freedom towards laguna de bay.
1:26 pm
now at the shoreline the amtrak slid into the water and headed northwest towards mommetid while the rescuers formed a defensive perimeter around the remaining internees on the beach and then it momented the overjoyed internees were met by scores of ambulances and trucks. which eventually carried them to bilibid prison in manila where they were fed as much soup as they wanted and cared for. the amtraks, however, they made their way back across laguna de bay to the beach outside los banos the last internees and the rescuers loaded up for the trip back to friendly lines as they were leaving. however, the first of enemy forces arrived and began firing on them and dropping mortars major burgess said that they were close enough that he could hear the japanese officers giving verbal orders to their men the rescuers and the internees left with only seconds to spare how good freedom felt to the 2100 internees who had suffered under the japanese for so long. the smiles in these photos
1:27 pm
really help portray. just how happy they were instead of a massacre the angels pulled off one of the most daring and incredible rescue operations of the war when general macarthur heard of the mission success. he said nothing could be more satisfying to a soldier's i am deeply grateful. god was certainly with us today. you know my friend bob wheeler who was just a boy when the angels rescued his family that day. he said if they hadn't come i'd be dead. the japanese had our graves dug. and i wouldn't have had two kids. nine grandkids and 12 great-grandkids instead of being massacred 2,142 men women and children were able to live live their lives as free people. thanks to the rescuing angels as bob said they were a special breed of men those men who came that day. superbly trained. thank god men who went home after they served going on with their lives humble. proud that they served
1:28 pm
eventually the angels helped liberate luzon and went on to become the first allied unit to land in japan raising the first american flag there on august 30th 1945. general macarthur even chose the 11th airborne to act as his honor guard at atsuki before they safeguarded the departure docs used by dignitaries. for the surrender ceremony on the uss, missouri the angels also helped guard general macarthur as accommodations at the new grand hotel, but of all the many accomplishments of the 11th airborne division. perhaps the one the angels are the proudest of is the day they rescued over 2100 internees from behind enemy lines. if you would like to learn more about the history of the 11th airborne, especially the 511 pir and their role in the low spanios raid. i would invite you to read our book when angels fall from toccoa to tokyo the 511 parachute infantry regiment and world war ii also want to invite you to visit our regimental website and there
1:29 pm
you'll find wartime photos interviews with the angels a digital museum a research library and so much more. thank you for joining me today. we'll now turn the time over for questions. hey jeremy. jim how are you? very good good to see and thanks for the presentation was very good. we we appreciate it very much. we do have some questions that have come in. okay, are you for the affair? one of the first ones is where did you find the names of the three filipinos that jumped on los banos? so that actually came from a couple of the troopers in b company. it's listed in a couple of their histories and then a couple unofficial after action reports and so forth, but you know, it's it's pretty amazing when you think they only got a couple hours of jump training and then they made the jump and they all made it down and it's funny because one of them you know he got down and he actually pulled
1:30 pm
the reserve shoot out and he turned to one of his friends one of the one of the angels and he's just like wow, there is another perish here. well, what happened? do we know what happened to him after the jump? is there any record of where these guys went or anything? there's not but my guess is went right with b company back to the lines. that's that's one thing a lot of people don't really realize is is there wasn't really a break for the angels. i mean once you know, once the internees got to new bilibid prison, they were kind of handed off to everybody else. that was there right company had, you know, very very short break, but the next day they were sent right back to the front lines. yeah. so those three filipinos, you know, they've been with b company for a couple weeks now, so my guess is they just went with them back to the lines just lost a history, i guess. yeah. yeah, you know, that's and that's that's the hard thing. you know, i i talk to another buddy of mine who's another historian and you know, we're both trying really hard to
1:31 pm
preserve the angels legacy as much as possible. but you know, it's it's you know, it's it's almost, you know 20 years too late. yeah in some ways that there's still a few left, but so many stories are gone. um, we have another one that came in on february 5th of 1945 to navy pilots were rescued by c-plane on lake tall the pilots were spotted february 4th by 18c47's resupplying the gate to guy came ridge parachute jump and the two pilots have watched the february 3rd jump and your research. did you run across any reference to this incident? the navy pilots were william foy and john boyle. i've i've heard about it, but i'm trying to actually remember where i even heard it from it wasn't in in a history. related to to the 11th airborne per se with something. you know, it's just that's one of the crazy things about when you're researching a unit like this is is you find a lot of
1:32 pm
pieces that are disconnected, but they do connect back right if somebody would like to message me through the regimental website. i'd be happy to see if i can find my yes. i think that i think that was written by the son of foy one of those pilots. that was it was shot. yeah. yeah. um now this comes in it says in in the many book accounts of the hunters gorillas of mojica english nieva ben, sabo and quesada, they say that in these books. there's hardly a great deal of mention of the gorilla rolls and they're saying the by the american authors that that they focus more on the 11th airborne than the gorillas and they're just wondering why the disparity so it's that's an interesting question. and and i'm going to answer try to answer that as as correctly and sensitively as possible because there are some of the angels who actually complain that when they hear the
1:33 pm
histories from the philippines the 11th, airborne isn't mentioned at all. for example, there is memorial at baker hall, which was the main building at los banos and if you translate it, it basically says this was a filipino gorilla operation. they took the camp. they rescued everybody. and then be company came in to just help them get out, right so so i think both sides are kind of swaying their narrative to their local forces, which is understandable in a way. yeah, and that's not to disparage you to one. i'm just saying that goes both ways. so one of the reasons that a lot of accounts of los banos limits the the what's what's the word i want to use the i can't even think of the word right now. i know i want to say the gorillas. additions to the rage should i say? you you have different sides going on here. you have the recon men who had
1:34 pm
about i think there's a 50 gorillas with them or so, maybe a little bit more and some of the recon men, you know, they split into four groups. so there was a couple recon men over some gorillas and some of the recon men said that by the time they got to the camp they're gorillas were gone, right so they had to do a sold their positions by themself. so the recon men some say the gorillas took off they were of no service at all. and then you have some other recon men that you know flatly say we took we took out this machine gun nestor. we took the gate here here with filipino support and so forth. and then one thing is when when the camp was assaulted the recon men in the filipinos the recommend especially their main job was to get through the gate and get to the guard barracks where the guards were hiding their weapons and to and they basically had to race them there. and that was their focus. and so you have some of the accompanying filipinos then spreading throughout the camp that are trying to engage the
1:35 pm
guards and so forth. and then some of the recon men said some of the filipinos disappeared at that point and and then when b company gets there a lot of the filipinos that have been with recon were were gone and and there's actually two sides to this story. number one is some of them disappeared before the assault began and and that actually made a lot of the angels pretty angry because they didn't get the support they wanted. the other truth to this is that when the assault began there were only about 50 guards on japanese guards on duty. so out of the complement of you know a little over 200. d company or the recon men? excuse me in the philippines moved in and started attacking the rest. there were some that did escape. um out of the camp. and so some of the accounts that i've read say some of the filipino gorillas then moved into the brush into the jungles and hunted down those japanese guards.
1:36 pm
so from the angels perspective, the gorillas disappeared but in truth they were moving to eliminate the japanese guards and so forth and then a lot of them didn't come back to the camp. so they just did that and then they went back to the barrios and so forth. but so i guess you know in a long-winded answer that's kind of the truth of it. you think the company got, you know, they landed it. oh 700 and and some accounts say about 15 minutes to assemble and get to the camp and so forth. so by the time b company got there, you know a lot of of those filipino gorillas would have you know already taken off or already in the jungle was hunting the japanese so from their perspective. there are not a filipino a lot of filipino gorillas taking part. one thing i do when i say is that it was actually considered before the angels rescue it was considered using simple simply filipino forces to liberate the camp and and to their credit the gorillas were willing, but they
1:37 pm
also admitted we don't have resources to do to do this we can assault that's fine. but we do not have transportation. we don't have the forces to hold the camp. yeah, you know there were 8,000 8 to 10,000 japanese troops only eight miles away. right? so the filipinos recognized if we took the camp, they're gonna come in and kill everybody so they said we can't do this, but we'll assist where we can so i guess those are all my answers to that. it's not. you know and even from some of the internees, you know, the internees were you know when the attack first happened a lot of them were in their barracks so some saw filipino gorillas running through the camp some never did they saw the recon men and then be company. so from their perspective. the filipino gorillas were never there. so if you read some of the internees accounts, they won't really mention the gorillas and so forth. so that's sorry. that's the one side of the story the other side of the story is i is i have read accounts from you
1:38 pm
know even official announcements even even modern ones, you know, i have a friend who won over to the los banos anniversary last year at baker hall and and you know, he he kind of had a bite his tongue when they were just saying this was all us this was all filipino forces the americans barely helped and and he was beside himself, you know understandably. so, um, so so i i say that to any of our friends that are watching from the philippines, you know, let's let's give credit where credit is due i understand. your frustration that the gorillas aren't mentioned more in american histories, but some of the living internees and the remaining angels are frustrated that the angels aren't mentioned in the filipino historians and so forth. so it has to go both ways. right? what what happened to lieutenant konishi? you know he so he escaped and you know she went and he
1:39 pm
basically joined the main force that was in the area the aids tiger division, which led to you know, konichi was was mentally unstable. that's when the best guesses. he was very vindictive. so, of course he was angry. you know, he lost face, you know the internees he had tried to starve to death had escaped and in a way he blamed the locals and i thought a lot about that. you know, he got he was assigned a small unit that went back to those banos barrio and they massacred 1500 civilians, right? they tied them to the stilts of their raised houses and they lit their houses on fire. i mean, it was just it's horrible. it's terrible which caused some resentment from you know, the local filipinos towards american forces for a while and and part of it was the angels generally have a choice. they were ordered back to the lines in manila. they didn't get to stay so they if they they all said if we knew the massacre was gonna happen we would have stayed.
1:40 pm
so after that konichi, you know, he kind of ragtags around with some of the the forces and so forth. and then you know, we do have a document on the website that actually has his history. he kind of became a gardener and i i'm not able to recollect where but he was hiding out basically in the war was over. he was just hiding out and then one of the blue was one of the internees or one of the filipino gorillas one of the two recognized him and so i'm at that golf course. yeah. yeah golf course, that's where i was. yeah turned him in and so forth. so, you know, he was he was in prison as as you know for war crimes and so forth and then he you know, he he was executed but you know, it's related that he decided to change his ways and accept christianity before that or so says one of the priests and the prison and so forth, but, you know talk to some of the internees and they said it doesn't matter what he did. we can't forget him for what he did. yeah. yeah.
1:41 pm
now, is there any plan to make the rescue the exploits of the 511 into a movie did somebody from hollywood ever approach you? not yet, but we're actually working on a screenplay right now because it's you know, it's such a it's such an amazing story. you know everybody talks about you know the great raid, you know, cabana twan and and it's it's an amazing story, but when you look at those banos when you look at the way it happened how quickly it happened all the moving parts that had to just sync up to make it happen the way it did. it's an incredible story. so i was called the greater raid not to disparage. you know, the the exploits and the amazing rescue that happened, but it's incredible to see, you know be company was willing to accept incredible casualties. you know, i gave that quote from john ringler where he says, you know, everybody said it not only can be done. it will be done some context
1:42 pm
that quote is is that was when they were first told what the raid would be and then they got their full briefing about all the japanese units in the area. the conditions of the internees and how slow they might move and the b company guys they say like we realized how tough this was going to be and and how dangerous it could be but none of them backed out. they said we're gonna go we're gonna do this, you know, it's really cool one of the last living raiders was actually from sea company, so john ringler, you know, some of the reports will say b company had 93 men at the time and that's actually not true lieutenant ringler said he had about 80 guys and and that was that was a high company number at the time for the five eleventh. everybody else was just decimated, you know first battalion, so we have a b and c company they only had 412 guys left the entire to affect this raid.
1:43 pm
so so right before the rate happened they went to see company who would come across in the amtraks, but they said hey we need we need some bodies. do we have any volunteers who want to come jump with us? so there were a handful of sea company men that jumped and and one of them was frank kovorski, i think it's how you say his last name. i can ever get that right, but he told when the internees, you know, they the camp is they're getting ready to depart he told on the internees. he said we're going to get you out of here or we're going to die trying. and i think that was the general mentality of all the angels. you know the jumpers and the guys that came across the amtraks and all so task force soul. i mean, they're kind of task force souls often just written off as this byproduct of the raid, but the fact is they were the main blocking force for the main enemy unit. and so what they did was really provide the rescuers time to get in and get out as quickly as they could if they hadn't done what they did.
1:44 pm
it's very possible that the company would have taken heavy losses first battalion would have and and and the 11th airborne, you know staff they told b company like we'll call mission success. if only one third of the internees make it out alive and if it wasn't for task force soul, that could have been a reality. yeah. yeah. we have a question. did you get a chance to interview gil cox he was a member of the 11th airborne and later in alamo scout. no, actually i have not personally so if someone has his contact information if he's still alive, yeah if he is, but if so, please shoot that to me. we'd love to we're trying to one of things. we're really trying hard to do is interview the last living members and there's not many left so i've been able to get to most but one of the difficulties we're facing is the simple reality of who's left, you know, the the roles of you know, who's living is is small but we know
1:45 pm
there's others out there. we just we just found out about one paratrooper who passed away about a week and a half ago. that was never on our radar. so yeah. yeah, so it is it is it's sad when that happens. so if anybody watching this or whoever watches this if you know of a living 11th airborne member, please let me know through the the website 511 let me know how to get in touch with them because we would love to do that great. of the rescued prisoners required evacuation in two trips by amtrak's early information indicated taking prisoners out by amtrak was the backup plan according to ed flanagan. the primary plan was to have a battalion from the glider company or greater regiment traverse the road and then and then entered the camp to evacuate the prisoners. however, the blown bridges didn't allow that bruce henderson claims that this was never the plan in the glider infantry was only intended as a blocking force. can you comment on the evacuation plan? yeah, you know i never want to
1:46 pm
contradict bruce because he's an amazing historian an amazing author, but the the plan to to bring them back with the roads was considered. it was kind of an initial idea. but the recon men the and some of the engineers actually 127 airborne engineers, which you know, i definitely want to give a shout out to because if you want to study an interesting combat engineering unit. you studied 127 to everyone engineers, but some of the engineers and some of the recon men they they scouted that road going up to those banos the japanese had in debt and indeed blown a lot of the bridges and in the engineers, of course said well, yeah we can rebuild them but time is going to be a factor. we can build a bridge is behind friendly lines. no problem, but the closer you get to the camp. obviously the more danger you're in but also the more the japanese are gonna figure out where you're going. so so that was kind of next as the idea an interesting other thing that a lot of people don't know is that the amtraks amtraks
1:47 pm
were secondary to ducks. they're actually going to use the ducks the amphibious trucks to go across the laguna de bay, but that was just decided. you know, the amtraks are going to work better. so so one of the idea one of the initial points was we're going to use the amtraks to take the internees back across the laguna day bay, but then first battalion while the angels the landing force the rescuers were then going to head in and meet up with task force soul. so that was the original plan, but, you know task force soul got stuck a couple hours away from the camp. actually that's right away. and that's why major henry burgess burgess decided to just get everybody out on the amtraks, right? of there's a question that came in in a they want to know about casualties in the raid. so contrary to popular reports people say like, oh, there's no casualties and that's actually not true. there were no.
1:48 pm
trying to figure out how to put this there were no major casualties amongst the angels that were in the camp two of the recon men were wounded one in the shoulder and then one got some shrapnel in the nose actually vincent call and totem button, i think is botkins the other guy there were all so two filipino gorillas killed by raid and that's you know, you know, i their names escaped me for a minute. i do have down but i do want to point out that the filipino gorillas, you know, they two of them were killed and they're actually buried by the camp right now. so that's the raiders that came into the camp and then you if you go over to task force soul, they took several casualties as well, including some fatalities and so forth. so there were casualties in the raid, but it was far less than everybody was expecting. yeah, yeah.
1:49 pm
yamasha was hanged as a war criminal before dawn. 75 years ago. he was later. buried first at the japanese cemetery near the los banos prison camp. is that right? was he buried there? have you ever heard that? who is that tony marsha? because i know him there was a question that came in about yamasha being held there at the los banos prison camp because the americans had a camp there where he was when they did the war crimes trials, but they were asking if you new if he was buried there for a while. i don't know i can definitely find out. what's interesting. is that carlotti who took over the regiment colonel edward lottie who took over the regiment after allegan, um, he got to interview. um you know yamashita right you actually yeah, i got to interview him and ask him. it was a really you know we have we have a document on the website, but it's an interesting
1:50 pm
q&a about you know, ladies asking and like did you know we were here did you know we were doing that? so i'll have to look at that and see if it states where he's buried, but i have to honestly answer. i'm not sure. and see got a few more here. mostly people talking about their okay. here we go. my uncle mike marcos was a trooper and charlie company arriving as a replacement january 45. he was killed in action on 27 april 45. our family had no first person feedback on his role affiliate, los bonus. can you direct him to any source records that might shed light on his role? yeah, actually if that that individual that family would like to email me again through the regimental website. i'd be happy to get this information. did you say that he he was killed in january. he was killed in april of 45 and okay. yeah, mike marcus.
1:51 pm
yeah. yeah so we can definitely look at that word. we've got some of the morning reports were waiting for the archives to fully open so we can get all the rest and we should be able to get direct information for them. hmm hmm um, have you had the opportunity to read any japanese perspectives of the rescue at los banos? i have not i'd be very fascinated to see if there were any out there. the reason i believe there's probably not any so if anybody knows of any please let me know. yeah the after action report from the 11th airborne just says, you know, they they eliminated 243 of the enemy that day now that includes task force soul and and the camp but when you consider how you guards their word they can't most likely mostly guards were killed. i mean yeah an issue a konichi and just a handful of others as far as i know. i think he was like seven or eight where the only ones that survived and and they were
1:52 pm
either later killed or executed so i don't know if there's any japanese accounts of the raid i'd be very curious to read them if there is yeah. um would you say this airborne operation as the paratroopers came down like angels led to the naming of the division, or was it a bunch of unruly paratroopers getting into trouble and being defended by major swing as not my angels. you know, that is an interesting thing. it kind of depends on which of the angels you you ask. it most likely it leads a little bit towards, you know, the angels floating down, but some of said that they were calling themselves the angels before and and you know that that lore of general swing so actually what happened was. when the angels landed well new guinea for a big part, you know, they they were tasked with, you know, unloading the ships of the
1:53 pm
docks and so forth and of course. that's very much below the ego of a paratrooper so they hated that but they stole everything they wanted, you know, like my grandpa was telling me he's like, yeah, we stole, you know, everything that was a value. we just stole them. we just put the crap back in the line because we didn't want it, you know, so they stole whatever food they wanted. they stole 45 they stole, you know, girl that for more. obey that start right, that's crazy. they stole the oro bay generator brought it back to the regimental area before that. they're using i mean it's unless you've been to the specific and really been in those jungles. it's really hard to picture but you know their camps were in these, you know. um groves of palm trees and so forth. so they're using coleman lanterns they got it all set up and it's running and you know, and they had a good run they had it was
1:54 pm
like over a week and then and then of course general swing heard about it generator brought to his you know his camping so forth forth and then of course. the the commander of the docs he was pretty -- back and and i think i i personally think that is when he confronted general swing and said, hey, your boys are thieves. they're stealing everything. and that's when general swing apparently said like, you know, it could be my voice whatever angels hey joe, so i really think that's kind of when it started the moniker and then i think it just really stuck with low spanios. yeah, but it's funny because the guys in the 511 there's there's a there's a famous patch that you can you find on ebay and different places, but it's it's a demon or it's a it's a skull with the parachute that says hells on hills angels those bad news. so the 511 they new the new in some ways that they were good. but they also knew that they were kind of troublemakers too. yeah.
1:55 pm
a couple more my uncle was a jesuit priest who was also an attorney and it sounds like he was in the evacuation but where this person wants to know. where can they read more about the evacuation? so as far as the evacuation goes a couple things number one obviously trying to condense this operation down into like, you know a half hour presentation is challenging in its own way or so, i would say if you want a good full length. history of evacuation you can definitely read our book when angels fall we put a lot of work into it. it's a labor of love and and we definitely have a big long chapter in there about los banos that the covers the evacuation, you know, there's there's some accounts on the website as well. we have that digital library that has some accounts from some of the internees and also also some of the rescuers that talk a little bit more about it and so forth. so those are all the best places
1:56 pm
i think. here's a comment from dave blackledge who was actually in the camp and he said shooting around the camp perimeter did not begin until all paratroopers had started to jump. so he wanted to make sure that we got that one in. yeah, you know, this is the interesting thing is that there are there are some some discrepancies and some of the different accounts for example the most common the most common incident that kicks off the raid. was that a japanese soldier at three minutes to seven shot at a small animal outside the camp and then philippine gorilla jumps up with his bolo and hacks him down and of course then the japanese machine gun sees that opens fire with their five rounds, you know magazine on their their woodpecker machine gun. but terry santos one of the recon men one of the main recon men actually he says it was a filipino. gorilla that fired that first shot so you have you have two really credible sources in a way
1:57 pm
cherry santos and then i think it was it was english that i think said. it was a japanese soldier. so you see me like give it a discrepancy right away. yeah, you know and then the the recon men were were told, you know, don't open fire until you know until you see that first parachute right at seven o'clock and that is when ringler jumped out of the plane. he went out right 0700, but terry santos and martin squires and so the other recommend so that yeah, we kicked it off a couple minutes to seven so i'm not not gonna contradict, you know an internee that was there and so forth, but you know i tend to stick more with with the recon guys, especially because they were good. they were really really good. i mean they were you know they were there were these special forces of their day. so they knew what they were doing and talking about. well, we have great many comments saying he did a great job great presentation. they look forward to the book, but well, we'll finish off with this one. um on your website.
1:58 pm
do you have a list of the troopers that were engaged in in the operation? so that is the gold question and it is something that a friend and i have been working on for about a year now and it's kind of difficult. to see because again some of those jumpers were from sea company and so we don't have all their names and so forth and then so we're trying to compare casualty reports to you know, figure out who was there with b company who was there with a company and c company and so yeah and then and then not even beyond that. i mean you're looking at the 127 everyone engineers there were engineers who went into dynamite roadblocks and so forth, right? yeah to see a list of them and and you've also got you know, the artillery guys were there. so we're trying to compile a list absolutely but it is difficult. and so i don't know if one will ever come to light. um, you know, i'll give an example of even how difficult
1:59 pm
that is a lot of the reports say that the recon men have 31 men that went to the camp and and that's all on there because camera i think we lost jeremy. he had 30 minutes. i just right technology is wonderful but to give an idea of how kind of crazy getting that roster is again. so, yeah, the 31 men that are often reported for recon, but the truth is that's just what the platoons strength was listed at the time. yeah, terry santos and martin squires say we only had 21 recon men that went to the camp really even trying to narrow down the recon men that did the camp and so forth like even that can be a challenge like, you know, it was there and who's on other who was on another assignment and and it so those banos is is wonderful. but it's like any operation. it is difficult because you have so many be company says that their own men through
2:00 pm
the smoke grenades that mark the drop zone the recon men said, no, it was two of our guys. yeah, you said and like, you know >> their stories aren't even matching up area >> that sounds great. 76 years ago history. >> book is called when angels fall. jeremy has a great presentation and we look forward to having you back. >> thanks, jim. i real appreciate it. >> next, david vassar taylor recounts his time in the and described the segregation of black and white troop as well as the racism he experienced at the hands of his officers.
2:01 pm
in one hour and $.20 -- -- vietnam war veteran david vassar taylor describes the racial discrimination he experienced while serving as a u.s. army clerk in this interview conducted by the atlanta history center's kenan research center for the veterans history project. in two hours on real america, three programs to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the space shuttle. >> i was born in st. paul minnesota. july 13, 1945 at 6:13 p.m. >> that's an important time. and who are your parents and what are their occupations? >> i've got several parents. my mother was married three times. my biological father was clarence ellis taylor. he was originally from fort wayne, indiana. my mother was


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on