Reader Opinion: Remember our soldiers
Seventy-four years ago on Jan. 30, 1945, the 6th Army Ranger Battalion, part of MacArthur's effort to retake the Philippines, was given a daunting task for the 100 untested, newly trained soldiers, as they were soon on a mission to rescue over 500 U.S. and allied soldiers that ended up at a Japanese POW Camp called Cabanatuan at the end of the "Death March of Bataan." This group of 100 fresh Army Rangers set out under the command of Capt. Prince and Col. Mucci, to overtake a heavily guarded POW camp, which required them to crawl on their bellies for the last 800 yards in open fields in broad daylight, so they would find cover in a ditch at sunset before their raid started at 7:30 p.m. under the cover of darkness. In this POW camp also were members of Brainerd's 194th Tank Battalion.
This raid has been called the most successful military rescue mission in the history of the U.S. All 500-plus POWs made it out safe and the Ranger company suffered only two deaths. All of the over 500 Japanese guards, trucks, tanks and stores of ammunition and fuel were destroyed by this small company of Rangers.
Not often mentioned were other U S troops that were off in the distance giving support by blocking roads that other Japanese forces might use to try help in the attack.
Brainerd's Norman Ebinger was part of one of the other Ranger groups that guarded nearby woods to protect from Japanese infiltrators. He was wounded several times in his service in the South Pacific as part of other Army units.
If you ever get the chance to watch the movie "The Great Raid" please do. It's a re-creation of the event. And remember to thank a soldier.
Nephew of Brainerd's Julius S.J.Knudsen, MIA from the Death March of Bataan