Victory In Defeat
Comments by Col. Mel Rosen at 18th Annual Reunion, 2002
I get rather disturbed by constantly hearing that the fall of Bataan and Corregidor was such a great disaster for the United States. Let me tell you my approach to this. If you agree with me, I request--no, I implore you to help me spread this word!
In 1941, the Japanese Imperial Headquarters gave Lt. Gen. Masaharu Homma 50 days in which to completely conquer the Philippines. At the end of that time, they were going to take half of Homma's 14th Army with appropriate parts of his air and naval support for operations in the South presumably against New Zealand and Australia. At that time, New Zealand had few if any defensive forces, and Australia had only about 6,000 troops, as their forces were all fighting in North Africa. The Japanese would have gone through New Zealand and Australia like a hot knife through butter. Then what was going to stop the Japanese from taking Hawaii? The U.S. was still reeling from the disaster at Pearl Harbor. Instead of 50 days, the Fil-American forces on Bataan and Corregidor held out for 150 days thereby completely upsetting the Japanese timetable for victory in the Pacific. The Fil-American forces, fighting with no air support and with no hope of ever getting any replacements, held out until their ammunition, their weapons, medicine, food, and, yes, people just plain gave out. But we gave the United States what it needed most at that time and that was time!
I submit that even in defeat, the Fil-American forces on Bataan and Corregidor may have given the United States one of its more important victories of WWII.
Last modified: 04-Jun-2009