Did you know we were actually winning the World War II. There was no question the Philippines would soon be free again. The horrible tragedy is that thousands of innocent defenseless prisoners of war and civilian internees were being slaughtered before we could rescue them. The Los Banos interment camp held over 2,147 men, women and children all destined to be executed unless we could free them. While there were only 243 prison guards, there were over 8,000 enemy marines within striking distance.
Troops from the 11th Airborne Division, 130 strong, under the command of MG Swing accepted the challenge. The result was the most successful rescue mission ever recorded. All the prisoners were rescued and only two Americans were killed and two wounded.
Chief of Staff and former Secretary of State, General Colin Powell, proclaimed:
"I doubt that any airborne unit in the world will ever be able to rival the Los Baños prison raid. It is the textbook airborne operation for all ages and all armies."
Now for the rest of the story.
There were 800 Filipino troops on that historic raid. A cynic might think they just provided support for the Americans but that cynic would be wrong. The first enemy sentry was killed in hand to hand combat by a Filipino. Filipinos were in the thick of the fighting and without their valor and courage the raid would have failed. Starting with a 19 year old Filipino named Frank who snuck in and out of the heavily guarded prison coordinating the raid to LTC Gustavo Ingles and his Philippine guerrillas, they all served with courage and valor. LTC Ingles commanded an amalgamation of five diverse Filipino units, including a Marxist Hukbalahaps unit, former cadets from the Philippine Military Academy, a Chinese squadron and even President Quezon’s Own Guerrillas (PQOG).