You didn't see many soldiers around during most of the war with the carabao of the Philippine Division on their shoulders. Everybody knows why their insignia were so little on public exhibition. They were among the defenders of Bataan.
The Philippine Division was a Regular Army outfit stationed in the Philippine Islands, and composed of Regulars on tours of duty in that area.
When the Japanese struck in December 1941, the Division, along with thousands of Filipinos put under arms for the defense of their homeland, and also existing units of the native-born Philippine Scouts, tried gallantly to halt the inexorable enemy surge.
General Jonathan M. Wainwright, a former commander of the Philippine Division, knew what the trained soldiers of the outfit could do under normal conditions, but he never realized to what heights of gallantry they would rise in spite of hopelessly inadequate food, ammunition, and medical supplies. They just wouldn’t give up.
These were the men of the foxholes of Bataan. Their division was the first to engage in battle with the land armies of one of our enemies in World War II.
They knew the terrible cost and the agony of defeat.
They hoped in vain for the help their country was not yet able to send.
They fought when no one could have blamed them for surrendering.
They were cited three times for their heroism.
When they finally had to quit, those who were still alive suffered the tortures and indignities of the Death March and long years in filthy Japanese prison camps.
Their division ceased to exist as an active Army unit. Its men were gone, its records were gone—everything but its spirit was gone.
Now a few of those men are back home again. They wear their shoulder patch with pride, too, but perhaps with the special pride of men who have tasted all the worst of war.
From Fighting Divisions, Kahn & McLemore, Infantry Journal Press, 1945-1946.
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