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02-02-07, 06:56 AM #1
4th Marines explore historic Philippine battle site
CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan (Feb. 1, 2007) -- More than 20 Marine leaders with 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, recently visited a World War II battle site in the Republic of the Philippines where one of the unit's most disappointing battles took place - The Battle of Corregidor.
Leaders in the regiment organized the trip from Jan. 11-13 to provide the Marines an opportunity to reflect first-hand on how 4th Marines attempted to defend Corregidor Island from a Japanese assault in 1942.
When the Japanese defeated allied forces in Bataan on April 9, 1942, they shifted their focus to Corregidor Island. The island was essential to the invading Japanese forces, as it was the last remaining obstacle to Manila Bay, known as the finest harbor in the Orient. Nearly 4,000 men with the regiment occupied the island at the time, but more than half were Army and Navy personnel without ground combat training.
On May 5, Japanese soldiers landed on the island and faced fierce resistance from American and Filipino artillery, but with persistence the Japanese forces etched their way deeper into allied territory and eventually overcame one of the regiment's artillery batteries. Early the next day, Japanese tanks made it to shore.
Army Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright, the commander of U.S. forces in the Philippines under Gen. Douglas MacArthur, realized his men's defeat was imminent. Just a day after the invasion, he surrendered for fear that the more than 1,000 wounded troops would be captured or killed.
Maj. Mark A. Avery, the regiment's air officer, said that day, according to many historical accounts, angered most Marines in the regiment because they were ordered to stand down.
"It was a dark moment for the 4th Marines when they had to surrender," he said. "There were still two battalions of Marines with infantry knowledge that were not engaged in the battle."
During the trip, the Marines were able to see the lasting effects of the constant bombardment from Japanese artillery shells that rained on the regiment's barracks during the war. They also walked a tunnel built by allied forces that functioned as a hospital and the command center for all operations on the island.
"It's just amazing the way this island was used during the war," said Staff Sgt. Charles W. Roach, the maintenance management specialist for Headquarters Company, 4th Marines. "We were able to go in the tunnel and it was incredible. I couldn't believe that tunnel was able to fit 8,000 people."
Master Sgt. John H. Newman, the electronics maintenance chief for Headquarters Company, 4th Marines, said the visit enabled him to step back and realize the differences between past and present-day war fighting.
"The magnitude and scope fascinates me because of what they went through and the equipment they used," he said. "I wanted to get a visual in my mind to (mentally) re-enact what happened that day, and this trip here really helped me with that."
Newman said the weapons and conditions during the battle and the war itself made him appreciate assets the Marine Corps has now.
"From what each generation used during battles, we have built on. It's part of our legacy," he said.
Avery said trips like this one are important to building on the character and professionalism of all leaders.
"Part of leadership is walking the ground our predecessors walked on," he said."That's what part of the PME process is about. By coming here, it will make a leader better."
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