Los Baños Rescue

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last update, 19 Sep 1999

Each year on the week-end nearest February 23 all chapters of the 11th Airboprne Division Association schedule "Los Baños Remembrance Dinners" . These locations will be displayed heere as soon as the plans ofchapters are announced.







In late January the 1st Cavalry Division and 37th Infant ry Divisions attacked Manila, Luzon, Philippine Islands from the North while the 11th Airborne Division attacked from the south. The First Cav sent a "flying squadron" into Manila to liberate the civlian prisoners interred at Santo Tomas University; they had been prisoners for over three years . Manila was liberated on Feb 5th.

To alleviate overcrowding at Santa Tomas, in 1944 the Japanese established a new prison camp at Los Baños, about 40 miles SW of Manila, it was the site of the Philippine Agricultural College. There were 2,147 prisoners here. After the liberation of Manila, the retreating Japanese forces planned to execute all the prisoners in Los Baños. General MacArthur ordered the 11th Airborne Division to rescue them.

The Recon Company and a large force of Filipino guerrillas infiltrated the area around the camp prior to the planned attack on Los Baños. It had been learned that the Japanese did their morning calistenics at 0700. Company B, 511th Parachute Infantry (re-inforced) planned their aerial assault on the camp for that hour. The 511th PIR embarked on Amtracs of the 672nd Amtrac Bn early on the morning of Feb 23rd and crossed the large inland lake on which the town of Los Bañ was situated on its eastern shore. As the first parachutes opened, the Recon company and the guerrillas opened fire on the Japanese. The defenders were wiped out. The Amtracs landed and troopers immediately rounded up the prisoners and loaded them onto the Amtracs, to be evacuated back across the lake behind friendly lines.

By noon the evacuation was complete with no loss of life of the prisoners or American troops Two Filipino guerrillas were killed. A monument at Los Baños has been erected in their honor. Other troops of the 11th Airborne Division had taken up road-blocking positions to prevent Japanese re-inforcements from reaching Los Baños, 25 miles behind enemy lines. This has been proclaimed the most perfectly planned and executed rescue by American forces and is taught at the War College as an example.

The civilians were Allied business-men, nuns, priests, missionaries, nurses, tourists, etc. who were in the Philippines when the Japanese captured them in 1942. As they had been praying for over three years to be rescued, they said that the paratroopers "looked like Angels coming down from Heaven to rescue them", and that is how our division gained its nickname "The Angels".

Every year around this time our Chapters hold "Los Baños Remembrance Dinners" in honor of this exploit. Many former Internees attend these meetings and thank their rescuers .

On one of the Amtracs transporting Internees from the camp, a soldier manning a .50 cal MG was returning fire towards a Japanese MG on shore and a hot shell ejected and landed on a one-day opl baby held by it's mother. In 1999, the trooper who is a member of our association, met that baby at a meeting of the Internees on the West Coast. She is now a 54 year old lady and that was an exciting moment for both of them. She was not seriously injjured by the hot cartridge.










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