PH marks 74th anniversary of the historic Leyte landing

MANILAThe country will celebrate on Saturday the 74th anniversary of the historic Leyte landing by Gen. Douglas MacArthur Oct. 20, 1944 that liberated the Philippines from Japanese occupation in World War II.

Defense Undersecretary Ernesto G. Carolina, administrator of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), will be the guest of honor and speaker during the ceremony in Palo Beach, Leyte, the exact location where allied forces led by Gen. MacArthur landed.

U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Y. Kim is expected to attend the annual ceremony.

The landing was preceded three days earlier by the greatest naval battle in history at Leyte Gulf that involved a total of 348 warships, 216 of which were U.S. vessels, two Australians, and 64 Japanese, according to retired Brig. Gen. Restituto Aguilar, chief of PVAO historical division.

During the naval battle, the Japanese lost four aircraft carriers, three battleships, 10 cruisers, and 11 destroyers, while the Americans lost one light carrier, two escort carriers, and three destroyers.

The once mighty Japanese Navy was destroyed during the sea battle on Oct. 17, 1944 that paved the way for allied forces, led by MacArthur, to beach land on Palo Beach three days later that liberated the Philippines from the clutches of Japanese invaders that occupied the Philippines following the fall of Bataan on April 9, 1942.

Then President Sergio OsmeAa, Sr. and Brig. Gen. Carlos Romulo, a ranking Filipino officer, accompanied MacArthur during the Leyte Landing.

MacArthur's forces knifed into Leyte then continued to push to other provinces in the Visayas, Luzon and Mindanao crushing all Japanese resistance.

The Leyte landing was a well-planned strategy to isolate Japan's strategic position in China and other areas in the Pacific Ocean during the war.

It may be recalled that then US President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered MacArthur to flee from the Philippines to Australia shortly before the fall of Bataan to organize a force that would launch a counter attack later.

However, before leaving, Gen. MacArthur promised the Filipinos with the now famous words I shall return.

He fulfilled his promise on Oct. 20, 1944, returning to the Philippines triumphantly.

War records disclosed that in July 1944, Roosevelt met with MacArthur and Admiral Chester Nimitz in Hawaii, where the decision was made to liberate the Philippines in a massive simultaneous air, sea and land attacks.

The fierce naval battle commenced at dawn of Oct. 17, 1944 that surprised the Japanese.

After the victorious landing, Gen. MacArthur announced to the people by saying: "People of the Philippines, I have returned! By the grace of Almighty God, our forces stand again on Philippine soil."

The successful Leyte landing was the beginning of the Japanese defeat in the Philippines.

The fighting moved to other parts of the country, including Manila where the Japanese forces suffered a crushing defeat.

Gen. Tomuyuki Yamashita, commander of Japanese forces in the Philippines, fled to Kiangan, Ifugao to await Japanese reinforcement that never came.

Yamashita was forced to surrender to Filipino guerrillas in Mt. Napulawan, Kiangan, Ifugao on Sept. 2, 1945.

The rest is history. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency