(How the Hunters lived and died rescuing POWS in Los Baņos)
By: Colonel Frank B. Quesada, USA, Ret.


Unconventional-Irregular Warfare

Against the panoramic background of World War II in the Pacific, this personal account is recounted by this author, as a participant in the daring raid. Then, a Captain, he operated as a guerrilla in an unconventional and irregular warfare activities in Luzon, with the famed Hunters Guerrillas, composed of former cadets of the Philippine Military Academy [the West Point of the Philippines] and Reserve Officers Training Corps [ROTC] shortly after the American surrender of the US Army [USAFFE] in Bataan and Corregidor.


Life of Privation and Peril

This author, was among who refused to take defeat from the enemy after the Fall of Bataan and Corregidor in 1942, and who took to the mountain vastness of the Sierra Madre to mount the uneasing resistance movement against the enemy invaders. They harassed the enemy all throughout the enemy occupation, inflicting heavy losses upon the invaders.


War Must be Won at all Costs

In any war, there were setbacks and casualties. Despite the lost of his father, Capt. Roman Quesada, and 11 members in the Quesada clan as casualties of war, this author persevered fighting the enemy until freedom was won at the end of the war in 1945.


Freedom at Dawn for American POWs

He now relates the inside story of the daring and death-defying surprise rescue of 2,146 Americans and allied prisoners-of-war who were all saved by the guerrillas and a contingent of the US Army that saved them from Harm's way before a mass massacre of the POWs by enemy guards in February 23, 1945.


Units that Participated

The POWs were incarcerated and truculently tortured under the iron heels of the Japanese guards for almost four punitive years in Los Baņos, Laguna province [in Luzon], 30 miles south of Manila, inside enemy lines, until they were unsuspectingly freed in a joint rescue operation by Filipino freedom fighters spearheaded by the Hunters Guerrillas of Col. E. Terry Adevoso [PMA Class '44], overall Supremo and the 45th Regiment led by Col. Honorio K. Guerrero, ground assault commander.


Other Participants

Other participating guerrilla units were: Fil-Americans and Marking's troops of Col. David Estrella; the Anderson's USAFFE intel-unit under Capt. Vero Gesmundo; PQOG guerrillas of Col. Fil Avancena in the sector of Col R. Price, a.k.a. Romeo Espino who would take command as chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines after the war; the Hukbalahap guerrillas of Col. Pedro Villegas; the 48th Chinese Squadron of Col. Ong.


The US Army Contingent

A contingent of US 11th Airborne Division under Maj. Gen. Joseph M. Swing, assigned Col. Robert Soule, 11th AB commander and Maj. Henry Burgess, the 511th Paratroopers of Lt. John Ringler, Scouts of Lt. John Skau, the 762nd Amphibian Tractor unit of Col. Gibbs and the Airforce Squadron of Col. R. Anderson. Not to leave out a handful US correspondents who dared joining the assault of the POWs camp.


The Lightning Raid

The lightning raid took only a few swift hours under the very nose of a huge Japanese force under the command of Gen. Fujishige, stationed at the south side of Los Baņos, [opposite side of Mt. Makiling], some 8 miles away. Their attention was focused on an expected battle against the approaching US army liberation forces from Batangas province.

The element of surprise of the attack that was kept tightly secret in order to avoid any leak which may alert the enemy paid off without alerting Gen Fujishige's force nearby that could have frustrated the rescue operation and/or even endangered the whole rescue.

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