GUIUAN, Eastern Samar – In the past 75 years, this town has been lobbying for recognition of its role in the country’s liberation from the Japanese invasion.
During the 75th Suluan Raid commemoration (Sentimental Journey) at the US Navy Depot in Ngolos village on Thursday, Mayor Annaliz Gonzalez-Kwan said her town played a vital role in the arrival of Allied Forces in the country during the Liberation Period.
“Three days before the Leyte Gulf Landings, something big happened in Guiuan. Without the clearing of enemy forces on Suluan Island, maybe Gen. Douglas McArthur would never make it to Leyte,” Kwan said.
Before Gen. MacArthur landed on Leyte’s shores on Oct. 20, 1944, the 6th Ranger Battalion commanded by Col. Henry Mucci was the first American force to return to the Philippines with the mission of destroying coastal defense guns, and radio and radar stations in Dinagat and Suluan Islands in Eastern Samar.
Suluan is an island located in the Pacific about an hour away by boat from Homonhon Island in Guiuan town.
The rangers managed to disperse a small group of Japanese defenders and destroyed a radio station in Suluan while they found Dinagat unoccupied. They erected a navigation light for the amphibious transports.
This attack was the beginning of the Battle in the Leyte Gulf. Three days later, Gen. MacArthur landed at the Red Beach in Palo, Leyte, which signaled the start of liberation.
Col. Camilo Ligayo, Philippine Army 801st Infantry Brigade commander, said the annual celebration of the Suluan raid is special because it values the different contributions in the fight for liberation.
“Such commemoration is important because we pass on the good lesson and examples of the past to the new generation. On occasions like this, we are grateful to our heroes for their sacrifices for our independence,” Ligayo said.
“But our gratitude does not end here. We need to appreciate their dedicated sacrifice by developing the peace we have gained because of them. This is the challenge for those of us who are preserving this heritage. Let us continue to make sure that most of our people will enjoy the freedom from poverty and the opportunity to achieve their dream,” he added.
Part of the commemoration of the 75th Suluan Raid was raising the flag of the Allied Forces from the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and China.
Among those who attended the commemorations were World War 2 veterans from Guiuan and their sons and daughters.
In 1944, after the successful landing of Gen. MacArthur in Leyte, the Allied Forces immediately constructed in Guiuan the US Naval Base 3149 and airfield capable of supporting forces that are working in the liberation of the Philippines.
The original plan was to construct it in Leyte, but due to scarcity of usable area, the southern tip of Samar Island was selected as best suited to the Allied Navy forces’ needs.
The US Naval Base in Guiuan during World War II was one of the biggest naval bases in Southeast Asia and was the second largest in the Philippines.
It covers the villages of Sapao, Taytay, Tagpuro, Cantahay, Baras, Pagnimitan, and Sulangan in Calicoan Island and the islands of Manicani and Tababao. The facility houses more than 100,000 Allied Forces who worked alongside Filipino guerillas in freeing the country from the Japanese forces.
The local government unit of Guiuan passed a resolution declaring the US Naval Base as a local heritage site in the municipality and requested the National Historical Institute to establish a marker on the site. (PNA)
This article is lifted from PNA site.