Ode to the Los Banos Raid/MOSSCOMES
I wrote this many, many years ago when I first heard the story about the raid and the release of 2,122 internees. I have been hesitant to include this in my father’s story, but since you have all been so patient with me in the past, I thought I’d give it a shot. I am told that the rhythm is hard to find and my answer is: I told you I wasn’t a professional. Soooo, here it goes …
Ode to the Los Banos Raid, 23 February 1945
Men in mass, 8,000 “thieves,” 11th Airborne Division,
Objective: clear the jungle more dense than anyone could envision.
Secure in themselves after New Guinea and Leyte,
Safety in their brotherhood, their trooper fraternity.
Commanded by ingenious General Joseph May Swing,
Offensive – plan to destroy the enemy string.
Maneuvering 16 days to break the Genko Line,
Economically fought terrors too fierce to define.
Simply, 11th take back Luzon – tho each man is spent,
Make it thru the Tiger Division to the “Pearl of the Orient.”
Over 25 miles behind enemy lines, Los Banos is trapped,
Swing, with his smarts, a great scheme he had mapped.
Straving and dying, internees prayed to be free,
Civilians living the Hell of Sadaaki Konishi.
Over 70% suffered dysentery, malaria or beriberi,
Meals were rice or rodents or bugs – which were plenty.
Eager guerrillas in the brush did their part,
Sgt. Fulton, their contact had bravery and heart.
Makapili – native spies abound in Japanese favor,
Overtly slew, even their own, but the 11th did not waver.
Secretly, Peter Miles did flee and intel went to Swing,
Sketched the prison layout and completed the sting.
Covertly the officers jumped into action,
Only nine “Gooney Birds” used for the troopers faction.
Men in sticks, 15 per plane jump at 400 feet,
Eyes to the horizon, green smoke shows their beat.
Some think of their homes, others the mission,
Make deals with their God, whose death his decision.
On land and sea, 54 amtraks do proceed,
Semaphore flags forward “wigwag” boys wave the “alligators” to lead.
Soule Task Force on land, fight and fend off the enemy,
Completing the land, sea and air strategy.
Overjoyed, but confused come the weak and the maimed,
Mission successful, “Thieves” now “Angels” were named.
Echelon back dated orders, to scoff up the credit [but]
Stealth, surprise, daring and speed – the 11th earned all the merit.
If you followed this post this far, I tip my hat to you. Thank you for bearing with me.
Posted on February 1, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged 11th airborne, Army, family history, History, Luzon, Manila, Military, Military History, Pacific War, paratroopers, Philippines, Poetry, WWII. Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.