Rescue at Los Banos: The Most Daring Prison Camp Raid of World War II
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Rescue at Los Banos tells the mesmerizing survival story of more than two thousand prisoners of war held in the Philippines by the Japanese during World War II—and the elite 11th Airborne Division's remarkable, heart-pounding mission to rescue them from deep inside enemy territory
As the U.S. victory in the Pacific drew near, desperate Japanese soldiers guarding the civilian prisoners—most of them Americans—at the Los Baños Internment Camp became increasingly sadistic and began systematically starving, beating, and killing their captives. Fearing the loss of countless more lives if the POWs were not rescued soon, General Douglas MacArthur personally gave the 11th Airborne Division the dangerous mission of freeing these men, women, and children in a deadly race against the clock.
In Rescue at Los Baños, #1 New York Times bestselling author Bruce Henderson deftly weaves together dramatic accounts of life at the Japanese prison camp with detailed analysis of the complex military operation being planned and carried out. He tells the stories of ordinary men and women thrust into the horrors of war and the valiant soldiers determined to save them. The assignment from MacArthur required the coordination of a three-pronged attack—deploying troops by air, land, and sea—and it had to be carried out in darkness, with a Japanese infantry division ten thousand strong lurking just down the road. The odds against success were steep and the risks were enormous, but the young American paratroopers and Filipino guerrillas responded with unparalleled courage in their heroic efforts to save the prisoners. General Colin Powell has called the raid "a textbook operation for all ages and all armies," and today it is remembered as one of the most legendary in U.S. military history.
Combining personal interviews, diaries, correspondence, memoirs, and extensive archival research, Rescue at Los Baños documents the incredible story of a group of prisoners of war—whose fortitude helped them overcome hardship, deprivation, and cruelty—and of the young U.S. soldiers and Filipino guerrillas who risked their lives to try to save them.
contained became the gospel as to Konishi’s fate. The story was reported in the 11th Airborne Division Association’s newspaper, Voice of the Angels, and picked up by authors who wrote about Los Baños in the 1980s. “There can be no question,” wrote E. M. Flanagan, a retired U.S. Army brigadier general and unofficial historian of the 11th Airborne, “that Sadaaki Konishi went to his death by hanging on 17 June 1947.” One former internee, Carol Terry Talbot, before writing her Los Baños memoirs,
Hudson S. Hess, Lois Ellen Hess, R. Bruce Hess, Robert R. Hess, Victor Glen Hess, Viola Ruth Hibbard, James F. Hicks, John Thomas Highsmith, Jerome Hight, Allen H. Hiland, George S. Hildabrand, Carl Hileman, Arthur Daniel Hill, Alva J. Hill, Jay Ward Hill, John Hill, Martha M. Hill, Samuel W. Hinck, Dorothy A. Hinck, Edward M. Hinck, John A., Jr. Hinck, Mary L. Hinck, Robert Hindberg, Walter Hinkley, Jay Augustus Hinsche, Otto Hobson, Henry Hochreiter, Charles J.
deployed in gliders towed by aircraft. The nearly two thousand men of the division’s third regiment, the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR), were the paratroopers of the 11th Airborne. A number of smaller units, such as airborne engineers, airborne artillery, parachute maintenance, medical, and headquarters company, were also part of the division. Volunteers for the 511th came from all over the United States, and volunteering was the only way to become an Army paratrooper. Most of the men
had been turned into a torture prison run by the Kempei, the feared military police arm of the Japanese Army. More questioning and torture followed—electric shocks that caused his body to lift off the ground and bamboo slivers inserted beneath his fingernails. Finally the Japanese gave up on prying anything useful from him and transferred him to New Bilibid Prison, twenty miles south of Manila, to serve a thirteen-year sentence. On June 24, 1944, after a year in captivity, Ingles and fifty
them there. No one ever abused the privilege of communal refrigeration by taking someone else’s food. In his ongoing campaign to do just about anything the Japanese forbade, Jerry took his biggest chance in the summer of 1942 when he went over the wall to help a group of Filipino guerrillas set up a radio transmission station in the hills east of Manila. He had been asked for his expertise through some guerrilla contacts inside and outside of camp. He knew he’d be killed if he got caught but