MAYWOOD, Illinois (jGLi) – The Japanese might have superior firepower and preparation at the outbreak of World War II in the Philippines. But the U.S. Allied Forces were able to stop cold the Japanese offensive for about two months.
The lull in fighting enabled Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Commonwealth Philippine President Manuel L. Quezon to flee from the Philippines. MacArthur headed to Australia, where he directed the Allied operations that paved the way for his return.
Thanks to TOT, Time on Target, a new technique in conventional warfare involving between three to ten artillery batteries being fired from different places and ranges that could land their projectiles on a common target at approximately the same time.
TOT would now be a crude technique in modern warfare, of course. But it worked 69 years ago on Jan. 21st, 1942, according to retired Filipino American Col. Emilio O. Hidalgo.
Hidalgo, 93, who served at the Headquarters and Headquarters, 2nd Battalion, 51st Field Artillery, 51 Division, said, “Upon occupying the new position (in Bataan) and with assistance of friendly units (left and right), (the U.S. Allied Forces) began showering Japanese troops advancing to our front by using the TOT, “a deadly use of fire power of artillery units usually intended to neutralize a mass attack by the enemy.”
In his speech during the Maywood Bataan Day celebration last Sunday, Sept. 11, Hidalgo, a native of Tanauan, Batangas in the Philippines, recalled, “So deadly was the (TOT) that in a few days of its use, the Japanese had to withdraw their frontline units and sought safety beyond the range of our field artillery. On Feb. 3rd, 1942, a lull in the fighting followed. Since then, the Japanese made no offensive operations against our troops for the next two months.
“With the lull in the fighting, Gen. MacArthur and President Quezon and their families were able” to leave the Philippines.
MALARIA KILLS SOLDIER IN FOUR DAYS
Hidalgo, who was installed as Commander of the Filipino American Post 509 only hours earlier, said, “We lost a lot of our men in that single engagement. It lasted 25 days of bloody and bitter conflict for both. Many more would perish in the Death March that followed the Fall of Bataan to the Japanese on April 9, 1942.”
Aside from the Japanese, Hidalgo, a former Acting Judge General of the Philippine Air Force, said, the Allied troops had to contend with the “incidence of malaria and dysentery that had reached epidemic proportions and was so deadly if bitten by mosquito infected with malignant type of malaria, a soldier will die in just four days. We ate only once a day, breakfast of rice porridge laced with a little sardines or salmon, nothing more. All doctors have been withdrawn to man a single station Hospital at Mariveles. Only a few corpsmen have been left to attend to the sick and wounded.
“Many of our comrades from Maywood never returned home after the war. Out of the 89, who left Maywood for the Philippines in 1941, only 43 came home. Others had found a final resting place in the Islands or in the graves that dot Camp O’Donnell in Capas, Tarlac.”
The loss of lives of the young Maywood residents of the 192nd Tank Battalion in Bataan, who were fresh from high school, was so traumatic for the suburban residents that they turned the tragedy into an outpouring of support for the troops that they did not want to forget.
On the second weekend of September, 1942, the American Bataan Clan (ABC) of Maywood held a weekend “of celebration of American spirit” by hosting a “parade through the streets of Maywood that featured hundreds of marching bands, floats, soldiers and celebrities.”
The celebration would be an annual ritual that became bigger every year. In 1964, the local Veterans council was able to enlist its guest of honor, Congressman Harold Collier, to pass a joint resolution in the U.S. Congress, declaring the second Sunday of September as (Bataan) National Day.
MORE FIL AMS INVOLVED IN THE EVENT
The local Veterans Council was reorganized as the Maywood Civic and Veterans Association for the Preservation of Bataan Day. This was later renamed as Maywood Bataan Day Organization.
The MBDO headed by its President, retired Col. Richard A. McMahon, has been reaching out to the Filipino American community for its presence and support. Members of the Filipino American Veterans Post 509 have been annually invited to attend the celebration as does the Philippine Consulate General officials. The event even plays the Philippine National Anthem, Lupang Hinirang.
And this year is no exception.
Hidalgo was one of the featured speakers during last Sunday’s celebration that was keynoted by Col. Paul Hastings of the Illinois Army National Guard.
Retired U.S. Marine Corps Major Edwin H. Walker, IV, who acted as master of ceremonies, told the event participants that Colonel McMahon is back east volunteering to help the victims of Typhoon Irene.
During last Sunday’s program, Bishop Dr. Reginald J. Saffo recited the memorial prayer followed by remarks from Maywood Mayor Henderson Yarbrough, Sr. There was also a Tribute to Victims of 9/11 Attack by Capt. Rebecca Dickson Simmons of the Salvation Army, who was assigned at Ground Zero a month after the 9/11 attack.
Captain Simmons described how her subordinates cleaned up the mess left by firemen.
For his part, Colonel Hastings said the heroism of the “Americans and Filipinos (and) how they survived and those from the 192nd Tank Battalion gives me great pause as the boys from the National Guard worked valiantly in a masterful action that prevented the Japanese from capturing Australia.”
Consul General Leo M. Herrera-Lim thanked the MBDO for inviting him and for involving the Filipino community in the Bataan Day event.
The event also featured the Monument Ceremony, Rifle Squad Gun Salute by American Legion Post #690 of Palatine, Illinois; Playing of taps; Wreath Laying by different organizations, including the American Legion Filipino Post #509 represented by Commander Hidalgo and Historian and Past Post #509 Commander Arcadio V. Calabas & Auxiliary Philippine Campaign Survivors and Filipino American Historical Society of Chicago represented by Estrella Alamar. Other guests were Commander Clemente “Sarge” E. Rodriguez of the American Legion FDR Post 923 and his Filipino wife, Verma, Consul General Herrera-Lim’s wife, Mr. Fidelis C. Herrera-Lim, and Judge Stanley L. Hill, who is standing for March 20, 2012 election as Cook County Circuit Court Judge. (firstname.lastname@example.org)