Friday, February 17, 2012

Another important anniversary

We received two timely emails this week that we would like to share. The first is from Richard Adams, who, as you may recall, visited Corregidor with his family just last month.

To those who returned to Corregidor sixty-seven years ago today and the Air Force and Navy units which supported them, God bless, "May the wind be always at your back." Also, thank you to the men and women who do so much to keep the history of Corregidor alive.

Richard Adams, Hq Co 3rd Bn 503 PIR

Sitting on this peaceful island, it is hard to imagine the tremendous amount of fighting and killing that took place here 67 years ago. This is the fourth consecutive time that we have been part of a typically simple flag-raising ceremony held at Topside on February 16 to commemorate the 1945 American Armed Forces initial assault that led to the retaking of The Rock.

Actually, this year there were two ceremonies. At 8:00 A.M. several of us, including our Australian friend Paul Whitman, gathered to hoist a 48-star flag – a gift from the MacArthur Memorial Museum in Norfolk, VA. – on the Spanish Flagpole. At 11 o’clock, the Corregidor Foundation, Inc., sponsored a wreath-laying ceremony at the 503rd Parachute Regimental Combat Team marker. Paul, whose father served on MacArthur’s staff, and Steve, whose father fought here in 1942, presented the wreath. Then Steve spoke briefly about the daring raid, which first consisted of 1000 paratroopers landing on or near Topside, taking the Japanese by surprise. He told about a company of soldiers who were blown off course and landed near the Japanese Commander, Capt. Akira Itagaki, running into him by happenstance, and killing him very early in the fighting. He also told how some of the soldiers quickly disabled the central communications center on Topside. Between these two events, the Japanese were immediately and heavily disadvantaged, with no intra-island communication system, and their leader killed. Within two weeks, the island was deemed “safe” for General MacArthur to return, which he did on March 2nd. In the two weeks following his visit another 118 Japanese soldiers were discovered and killed.

The first American flag to be flown on Corregidor on February 16, 1945, was actually hoisted on a telephone pole a couple hundred yards west of the old Spanish flagpole. We hope someday to have a plaque at its location which might read something like this suggestion from Paul Whitman: “The American flag flew from a pole at this spot for the first time in 2 1/2 years courtesy of the 503rd PRCT “THE ROCK REGIMENT”, placed there by Pfc. Clyde I. Bates and T/5 Frank Guy Arrigo, under fire, on 16 February, 1945. Lest We Forget.” We include a photo of Bates and Arrigo on the telephone pole.

The second email we include came from another Australian friend, Bill Borg.

Steve and Marcia,

Today, the 15th of February, marks the 70th anniversary of the 'Fall of Singapore' - as significant to British and Commonwealth Forces (especially the surrender of the Australian 8th Division) as the surrender of Corregidor is to Americans and Filipinos.

Bill Borg

Thanks to Bill for reminding us that the British and Commonwealth forces were heavily involved in the Pacific Theatre and that these men suffered the same cruelties that the American and Filipino forces did.

Our thanks go out to Richard and Bill for sharing their heartfelt thoughts with us.

Steve and Marcia on the Rock

1 comment:

  1. That is my Dad on that flag pole! T.5 Frank Guy Arrigo, dad never spoke much to us about his time in the service during WW2. Just that he put Our Flag back up under sniper fire with a PFC did not even name him, when Old Mac as he called him retook 'THE ROCK" My Dad passed away on Oct 1985 from lung cancer.