Friday, January 30, 2015

January 30, 1945 Raid at Cabanatuan

Seventy years ago today LtCol Henry Mucci of the US Army Rangers led a force of Rangers and Alamo Scouts in the largest and most successful rescue of American prisoners of war in American military history.

The Japanese held approximately 500 prisoners of war at Cabanatuan Prisoner Camp in the Philippines toward the end of World War Two.  These prisoners were largely made up of Bataan Death March survivors.  Men barely alive.  Allied/American intelligence knew that as our forces were successfully moving through the Pacific, the Japanese captors were killing POWs.

The rescue force of 133 US Army soldiers was vastly outnumbered.  Not just those Japanese soldiers in and running the camp, but very close by was a Japanese Infantry Battalion with approximately 1,000 soldiers.

So not only did Mucci's men need to get into the camp, overwhelm the 200 or so strong Japanese captors, rescue the POWs and escape; they also had to keep the camp down the road, from sweeping in and re-enforcing the camp guards.  That's where Filipino guerrilla Captains Juan Pajota & Eduardo Joson and their forces came into play.

Pajota and Joson with their force of approximately 270 Filipino soldiers coordinated a roadblock at the Cabu River Bridge.  This attack decimated the Japanese Battalion and took that pressure off of Mucci's forces.  It still wasn't easy, but it gave the Americans a real chance of success.

LtCol Mucci had handpicked Captain Bob Prince to plan the raid.  They had to go 35 miles behind enemy lines and they had to pull it off before Japanese to slaughter the remaining prisoners & deserting the camp ahead of McArthur's arrival on Luzon.  Prince's plan, featuring Army Rangers belly crawling across a large flat, open area right up to the camp landed him in the Army Ranger Hall of Fame!
The result - a great, great success!  This pic is the liberated prisoners.  Mucci & Prince lost only two men in the raid, which is astonishing as well.  I guess for today "BostonMaggie" can say - "Rangers Lead The Way"!

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