Inside the Capitol

Friday, April 29, 2005

5-6 Corregidor Falls

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Content preview: FRI, 5-6-05 MAUI � Corregidor held out until May 6.
Not many New Mexicans were on the Rock, as they called the tiny island
lying just off the southern tip of the Bataan Peninsula. When the
Japanese finally stormed to the southern tip of Bataan, a few New
Mexico National Guard troops had the opportunity to be evacuated to
the well-fortified bastion. And some of those who couldn�t find a
craft to transport them swam the relatively short distance or found a
floating object to grab. Corregidor held a strategic location,
guarding the entrance to Manila Harbor. Until the enemy had Corregidor,
it didn�t have access to the huge harbor. The Japanese commander had
tried to insist that Corregidor be surrendered along with Bataan. But
the Americans weren�t about to let that fortress go because they knew
that holding it as long as possible would delay the Japanese advance
toward Australia even longer. Some suggested that the additional delay
made the captors even more ill-tempered toward their prisoners on
Bataan. Corrigedor was a series of tunnels where life was pretty good
for an army about to be overrun. Supply ships and planes still got
through occasionally, bringing food, ammunition and medicine. The men
stationed there were shocked at the condition of those arriving from
Bataan. For the New Mexicans who made it to the island, it was a bit
of heaven. The shoreline bristled with batteries of antiaircraft
artillery. It was to those units that New Mexicans were assigned, even
though most of the units were at full strength because they hadn�t
suffered the casualties of those on the mainland. On April 29, the
final assault began. Japanese artillery pounded the island mercilessly,
day and night. On May 3, Gen. Wainwright wired Gen. McArthur that the
situation had become desperate. Most of the antiaircraft guns had been
knocked out. They would soon be fighting as infantry and about the
only men with infantry combat experience were the exhausted troops
from Bataan. Wainwright began to evacuate key personnel, important
documents and nurses [...]

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