Ode to the Los Banos Raid/MOSSCOMES

Manila headlines

Manila headlines

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.

U.S. Army Air Forces recruiting poster

U.S. Army Air Forces recruiting poster


About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on February 1, 2013, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. Thanks for letting me camp out in your blog for a little while today. I had a great time and tried to leave my campsite as good as when I arrived. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks!


  2. Very well expressed. I am glad you shared your ode with us.


  3. What a beautiful tribute to the 11th!


  4. Frankly, I thought was dearly written from your heart – and the hearts of all those young men.


  5. You’re talent amazes me. … I could “see” and “feel” what those brave men were living. A beautiful way to show homage to the 11th.


  6. About poems…


    Someone found my blog on HMCS Regina and shared her poem.

    When you have time, read my blog about that ship.

    First post…


    13 entries only, but some amazing things happened.

    You will love it.


  7. Great poem…
    It sums it all up.

    No need to tip your “helmet” to us.
    We should tip ours.

    I know your father is proud of his little girl for telling this story as I am sure all the men of the 11th Airborne division are.

    I hope people whose fathers served as Pacific paratroopers can find this blog.


    • You are always so kind, Pierre, you’ve got me blushing. I hope eventually we’ll hear from others in the A/B, I think that would really make a well rounded story – getting all sides. (They weren’t all standing in the same place when the action started.)


  8. A reblogué ceci sur Lest We Forget and commented:
    This is how to pay homage to those who fought for their country…


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