Just because this new bug has lots of attention being paid to it, doesn’t mean that everything else simply stopped in place.

AFRICOM kills senior terrorist leader in Somalia as airstrikes intensify

STUTTGART, Germany — A senior al-Shabab leader who played a key role in plotting deadly attacks throughout East Africa has been killed in an airstrike in Somalia, U.S. Africa Command said Tuesday.

Yusuf Jiis was one of three al-Shabab members killed in the April 2 airstrike, AFRICOM said. The strike was one of a flurry of attacks in Somalia in recent days.

Jiis was “violent, ruthless, and responsible for the loss of many innocent lives,” AFRICOM commander Gen. Stephen Townsend said in a statement. “His removal makes Somalia and neighboring countries safer.”

AFRICOM has launched six airstrikes in Somalia since April 2, including one on Monday in which five terrorists were killed, it said.

AFRICOM said no civilians were killed in Monday’s strike on Jilib, around 230 miles south of the capital, Mogadishu, but it is investigating reports that allege there were civilian casualties.

“As with any allegation of civilian casualties U.S. Africa Command receives and reviews any information it has about the incident, including any relevant information provided by third parties,” it said.

AFRICOM announced last week that it will begin issuing quarterly reports on the outcomes of its investigations into civilian casualty claims as a way to boost transparency.

This is due to the diplomatic policy of using liberal Port Visits & Liberty Calls to ‘show the flag’ as well as provide economic support to foreign nations; Our ships don’t just sit in a port for a few days, a lot of ‘supply’ business is conducted and the sailors on Liberty go out on the town to spend their pay. QED, they pick up the local ‘flavor’.

Now we have the core of a whole Carrier Strike Group –1 of only 8 currently fully operational – out of action. Pretty good military attrition for a bug that more than few say was let loose from a Chinese gubbermint biolab.

Aircraft carrier captain pleads for help after more than 100 crew are infected with coronavirus.

WASHINGTON — The captain of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier that has more than 100 cases of coronavirus wrote a stunning plea for help to senior military officials.

In a four-page letter, first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, Capt. Brett Crozier of the USS Theodore Roosevelt described a disastrous situation unfolding aboard the warship, a temporary home to more than 4,000 crew members.

“We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors,” Crozier wrote. “The spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating.”

He proposed offloading the majority of the crew, quarantining those infected, testing others for the virus and professionally cleaning the ship. He explained in his letter that by keeping the crew on the vessel the Pentagon was taking “an unnecessary risk” that “breaks faith with those Sailors entrusted to our care.”

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

New? Good grief.
We had the 320 in the Army inventory over 10 years ago.

New Marine Grenade Launchers Get Rave Reviews After Field Tests

In its quest to be more lethal than America’s adversaries, the Marine Corps is rolling out a new grenade launcher.

The M320A1 has a range of 150 meters on a single target, which might be a window, and a 350-meter maximum range on an area target, according to The Washington Times.

The new grenade launcher can be used by itself or mounted onto another weapon, such as the M27 rifle.

The new grenade launcher will allow Marines to lob 40-millimeter projectiles at an enemy in either day or night, according to a news release from Marine Corps Systems Command.

The weapon is being issued to Marines from the II Marine Expeditionary Force at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and is expected to go service-wide by 2024.

Three U.S. troops wounded in renewed rocket attacks on Iraq’s Taji base

I guess Hezbollah needs the lesson repeated.

BAGHDAD/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Three American troops and several Iraqi forces were wounded on Saturday in the second major rocket attack in the past week on an Iraqi base north of Baghdad, U.S. and Iraqi officials said, raising the stakes in an escalating cycle of attacks and reprisals.

Iraq’s Joint Operations Command said 33 Katyusha rockets were launched near a section of the Taji base which houses U.S.-led coalition troops. It said the military found seven rocket launchers and 24 unused rockets in the nearby Abu Izam area.

The Iraqi military said several Iraqi air defense servicemen were critically wounded. Two of the three wounded U.S. troops are seriously injured and are being treated at a military hospital in Baghdad, the Pentagon said.

Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman declined to speculate on potential U.S. responses but, in a statement, cited Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s warning last week: “You cannot attack and wound American Service Members and get away with it, we will hold them to account.”

The rocket attacks came less than two days after the United States launched retaliatory air strikes at facilities in Iraq that the Pentagon linked to the Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia, which it blamed for Wednesday’s attack on Taji…..

Pentagon identifies US soldier, airman killed in Iraq rocket attack

On Friday morning, the Department of Defense identified the two U.S. service members killed in a Wednesday rocket attack against Camp Taji, Iraq.

U.S. Army Spc. Juan Miguel Mendez Covarrubias, 27, of Hanford, Calif. was killed in the rocket attack, as was Oklahoma Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Marshal D. Roberts, 28, of Owasso, Okla., the Pentagon confirmed in a press release.

Mendez Covarrubias was a member of the 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division based out of Fort Hood, Texas. He was posthumously promoted to the rank of Specialist.

Roberts was a member of the 219th Engineering Installation Squadron of the Oklahoma Air National Guard.

The deadly rocket attack also resulted in the death of a British service member stationed at the base. The British service member was identified as LCpl Brodie Gillon, 26, of the U.K.’s Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry reserve unit. She reportedly volunteered to join the Irish Guards Battle Group when it deployed to Iraq for 2020.

“The coalition honors the service and sacrifice of U.S. Army Specialist Juan Miguel Mendez Covarrubias, U.K. Lance Corporal Brodie Gillon, and U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Marshal D. Roberts; they will not be forgotten,” Lt. Gen. Pat White, commanding general of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said in a press statement.

“The international military coalition is capable and credible because of warriors like Juan, Brodie, and Marshal,” White’s comments continued. “They volunteered to serve the United States and United Kingdom to improve their lives and help keep the world free from ISIS terrorism. Our fallen comrades have a legacy that will never be forgotten.”


US conducts airstrikes in Iraq in retaliation for attack that killed 2 Americans

Never underestimate the ability of the U.S. military to pick the time, place and target of their own choosing when they go for ‘payback’.

The U.S. military conducted airstrikes in Iraq on Thursday in retaliation for a recent rocket attack that killed two American service members and one British service member and wounded 14 others, according to two U.S. officials, one of whom characterized the strikes as defensive in nature.

It was unclear what targets were being struck by U.S. military aircraft, but earlier in the day, senior Pentagon officials had blamed Iranian-backed Shia militia groups for Wednesday’s attack on Camp Taji in Iraq.

“Yesterday’s attack by Iranian-backed Shia militia groups consisted of multiple indirect fires that originated form a stationary platform and was clearly targeting coalition and partner forces on Camp Taji,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters on Thursday. “But let me be clear, the United States will not tolerate attacks against our people our interests or our allies.”

Esper continued, “All options are on the table as we work with our partners to bring the perpetrators to justice and maintain deterrence.”

Pentagon Identifies the Two Marine Raiders Who Were Killed Fighting ISIS In Iraq

Pentagon Identifies the Two Marine Raiders Who Were Killed Fighting ISIS In Iraq

The Department of Defense identified the two U.S. Marine Raiders who were killed on Sunday fighting against ISIS fighters in Iraq as Gunnery Sgt. Diego D. Pongo, 34, and Capt. Moises A. Navas, 34.

Marine Forces Special Operations Command said Pongo and Navas, both assigned to 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, suffered fatal wounds while accompanying Iraqi Security Forces during a mission to eliminate an ISIS stronghold in a mountainous area of north central Iraq.

Pongo, of Simi Valley, California, enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2004 and had previously deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. He went on to become a Marine Raider in 2011. In 2013, he earned a Bronze Star Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device for heroic actions against the enemy in 2013 while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He is survived by his daughter and mother.

Navas, of Germantown, Maryland, also enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2004 and became a Marine Raider in 2016. He had previously deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Inherent Resolve. Navas, who was recently selected for promotion to the rank of Major, is survived by his wife, daughter, and three sons.

“The loss of these two incredible individuals is being felt across our organization, but it cannot compare to the loss that their families and teammates are experiencing. Both men epitomize what it means to be a Marine Raider. They were intelligent, courageous, and loyal. They were dedicated leaders, true professionals in their craft, and willing to go above and beyond for the mission and their team. They were not just leaders today, they were both on the path to be our organizations leaders in the future,” Marine Raider Regiment Commanding Officer, Col. John Lynch said in a statement.

The New York Times reported American commanders are reviewing how their forces conduct missions in Iraq and Syria after Pongo and Navas were killed while clearing a well-defended cave complex. The Quick Reaction Force that was activated to retrieve their bodies were members of the elite Delta Force.


US begins withdrawing troops from Afghanistan

We’ve been in Afghanistan since late 2001.

The United States began withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, the U.S. military said Tuesday, taking a step forward on its peace deal with the Taliban while also praising Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s promise to start releasing Taliban prisoners after he had delayed for over a week.

The U.S.-Taliban deal signed on Feb. 29 was touted as Washington’s effort to end 18 years of war in Afghanistan. The next crucial step was to be intra-Afghan talks in which all factions including the Taliban would negotiate a road map for their country’s future.

But Ghani and his main political rival, Abdullah Abdullah, were each sworn in as president in separate ceremonies on Monday. Abdallah and the elections complaints commission had charged fraud in last year’s vote. The dueling inaugurations have thrown plans for talks with the Taliban into chaos, although Ghani said Tuesday that he’d start putting together a negotiating team.

The disarray on the Afghan government side is indicative of the uphill task facing Washington’s peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad as he tries to get Afghanistan’s bickering leadership to come together. In an early Tuesday tweet, Khalilzad said he hoped the two leaders can “come to an agreement on an inclusive and broadly accepted government. We will continue to assist.”

USAF Gunship Crew Awarded Medals For Nine-Hour Battle With ISIS That Saved 15 Wounded In Afghanistan.

On the night of April 3-4, 2019, on a heavily-fortified mountainside near Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, a group of joint American special operations and coalition forces found themselves taking fire as casualties mounted after an improvised explosive device attack.

In need of assistance, the Special Tactics operators on the ground called for an AC-130U “Spooky” Gunship, (Callsign Spooky 41) who arrived to suppress the enemy located in close proximity to the group.

As the gunship fired down on the enemy, at times less than 140 meters from the group, three medical-evacuation helicopters hovered more than an hour to safely rescue all 15 patients. The enemy was not able to get a single shot off at the MEDEVAC helicopters, due to the precise airpower strikes of Spooky 41’s aircrew.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Jim Slife, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, presented two Distinguished Flying Crosses with “C” device and 12 Single Event Air Medals with “C” device to 4th Special Operations Squadron Airmen, March 2, 2020, here, for their actions in April.

“The most lethal part of any gunship is not the 25 mm, the 40 mm, or the 105 mm [weapons] sticking out of the side of this big beautiful airplane,” said Slife during the ceremony. “The most lethal part of the gunship is the crew.”……..

The AC-130U’s capability to track and engage several targets simultaneously with different levels of ordnance is an invaluable asset to special operations forces on the ground. It offers a 105 mm howitzer cannon, 40 mm Bofors cannon and a 25 mm GAU-12 Gatling cannon.

US Signs Peace Deal With Taliban, Will Withdraw All Troops If Taliban Keeps Commitments


The United States signed a peace deal with the Taliban Saturday that would end America’s longest war, if the group keeps its commitments.

Under the deal, the U.S. would reduce deployment numbers in Afghanistan from 13,000 to 8,600 over the next several months. The U.S. will withdraw completely within 14 months if the Taliban holds to the deal’s commitments of controlling terrorism.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo personally oversaw the signing of the deal in Doha, Qatar, where U.S. negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad signed the deal with Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

“This country is not in the best shape after 40 years; they’ve been suffering from conflict. If we ripped everybody out overnight it would, almost in a certain sense, threaten everything we’ve done,” one senior Trump administration official familiar with the deal said.

The officials emphasized to reporters on background that the troop withdrawals will happen “if and only if” the Taliban hold up their end of the deal.

Indeed, the signing only took place after the Taliban proved willing and capable of minimizing violence under the reduction in violence agreement signed earlier in February.

Among the officials’ top priorities was ensuring that a U.S. withdrawal didn’t result in a power vacuum, as it had under the Obama administration, leading to the rise of ISIS.

“If this all blows up that’s unfortunate, but fine, we’ll just start killing them again,” one official said…….

Breaking: Pompeo to Sign Historic Peace Agreement With Taliban

Secretary of state Mike Pompeo is soon traveling to sign a historic peace deal with the Taliban, President Donald Trump said in a statement Friday.

Defense secretary Mark Esper will be signing a joint declaration affirming the administration’s partnership with the Afghan government in concert with the Taliban peace deal. The president described the ceremonies as ‘a powerful path forward to end the war in Afghanistan and bring our troops home’.

President Trump has been pushing for a peace deal with the Taliban in order to keep his campaign promise of ending the decades-long war in Afghanistan. Under the proposed deal, the US would gradually withdraw troops from Afghanistan in exchange for promises from the Taliban that they will not engage in or fund terror.

he president ceased negotiations with the Taliban in September after the group took credit for a suicide car bombing that killed an American service member. However, talks resumed after the Taliban promised that they would be open to reducing violence, a huge change for a group that was committing violent acts at record highs last year. The US and the Taliban reached a seven-day reduction in violence agreement this past Friday, which was not equivalent to a ceasefire but expected the Taliban to avoid any major forms of violence.

Trump stated, ‘these commitments represent an important step to a lasting peace in a new Afghanistan, free from al-Qaeda, Isis, and any other terrorist group that would seek to bring us harm. Ultimately it will be up to the people of Afghanistan to work out their future. We, therefore, urge the Afghan people to seize this opportunity for peace and a new future for their country.’

Secretary Pompeo noted that the US would sign a fuller peace agreement ‘if and only if’ the reduction in violence was successful, adding that it would likely be signed ‘on or about February 29’.

Critics have warned that the Taliban may simply resort back to violence or seize control of the Afghan government after the deal is made, but the administration contends that they are clear-eyed about the risks of negotiating with the terror group and are willing to retaliate with military force if necessary.


Trijicon VCOG

The U.S. Marine Corps this month selected Wixom, Michigan’s Trijicon to supply the service’s new Squad Common Optic.

The Marines describe the SCO as a “magnified day optic that improves target acquisition and probability-of-hit with infantry assault rifles.” Using a variable power non-caliber-specific reticle with an illuminated or nonilluminated aim-point, users can identify their targets from farther distances than the current RCO standard– the Trijicon ACOG 4×32.

“The SCO supplements the attrition and replacement of the RCO Family of Optics and the Squad Day Optic for the M27, M4 and M4A1 weapon platforms for close-combat Marines,” said Tom Dever, interim team lead for Combat Optics at Marine Corps Systems Command.

The glass selected for the SCO program is Trijicon’s VCOG 1-8×28. The waterproof (to 66 feet) optic has a 7075-T6 aluminum housing and a first focal plane reticle that allows subtensions and drops to remain true at any magnification.

South Korea virus cases jump again, 1st US soldier infected

The U.S. military says one of its soldiers based in South Korea tested positive for a new virus, the first U.S. service member infected.

A U.S. military statement said the 23-year-old man is in self quarantine at his off-base residence. It says the soldier was originally based in Camp Caroll in a town near the southeastern city of Daegu, where most of South Korea’s virus cases are clustered.

South Korea has almost 1,150 cases of the new coronavirus, the biggest outbreak outside mainland China. About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea as deterrence against potential aggression from North Korea.

February 23, 1945 Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima island, Tokyo Prefecture.
Yes, Iwo Jima is part of the Tokyo metropolitan area, which is as good an explanation as any as to why the battle was so hard fought.

The first flag raising, which at the time, everyone was so enthusiastic about.

And the much more famous second flag raising, which was filled with controversy for years afterwards.

In any event, the carnage on that little patch of sulfurous hell on earth had just begun and many of the men you see in these pictures were killed there.

Just something to consider today.

MILESFORTIS will return.

 States That Defend Us—Where Do Our Military Volunteers Call Home?

There’s no end to fun surveys that purport to measure patriotism among the states, with military enlistments often part of the criteria.

However, using enlistment rates to gauge the regional willingness to volunteer for the armed forces betrays a common misunderstanding of the way the U.S. military operates. What matters is accessions to the military, not enlistments. Accession is a term used when a civilian joins the military, having passed mental, physical, educational and legal standards, and swears an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Enlisted personnel—in other words, not commissioned officers—enlist for a term. When that term is up, they can leave the military or choose to reenlist. Thus, states with a large active duty presence will also then see many enlistments……….

Contrary to popular myth, members of the U.S. Armed Forces are mostly drawn from the middle class, with the lowest income quintile being slightly underrepresented, and the highest quartile being even less represented, with about 17% of enlisted personnel coming from the top 20% of neighborhoods by income. Further, 92% of accessions to active duty have a high school diploma, compared to 90% of adults age 25 and older.

But as representative of the nation as our armed forces are, there are stark regional differences in the makeup of our military, with the South contributing more than its fair share of personnel and the Northeast largely lagging behind, with a few exceptions.

Reviewing a 2016 report from the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness titled “The Population Representation in the Military Services” shows that California (17,729), Texas (16,139) and Florida (11,552) had the largest number of people enlist in the military. But these three states are the three most-populous states. Further, new recruits are mostly 18-to-24 years old with about 0.5% of them volunteering and being accepted for active duty each year.

Looking at each state’s share recruits by the number of 18-to-24-year-olds in the state determines how well or how poorly a state is doing compared to its recruitable population. By that measure, the top five states in 2016 were: Hawaii, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and Florida. The five places with the smallest share of recruits were: Washington D.C., North Dakota, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York.

Iwo Jima warriors should never be forgotten

Of the 82 Medals of Honor awarded to Marines in WW2, 22 of them were awarded for this one battle. Another 4 were awarded to Navy Hospital Corpsmen (medics) attached to the Marine Corps. This was the first battle where the defending Japanese inflicted more casualties than they suffered although more Japanese died than U.S.

On Feb. 19, 1945, Iwo Jima, a small, sulfurous fumes-belching Western Pacific Island, was one of the few remaining roadblocks on the route to Japan. There the IJA (Imperial Japanese Army) troops — approximately 21,000 — quietly awaited the arrival of the U.S. Marines V Amphibious Corps. Void of vegetation and covered with countless century-old deposits of volcanic ash and sands, the island had been deliberately denuded by the IJA to give its invaders no vestige of hope or shelter.

In the Pacific theater of World War II, U.S. Marines hit the beach and charge over a dune on Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands Feb. 19, 1945, the start of one of the deadliest battles of the war against Japan.© Joe Rosenthal, AP 

In the Pacific theater of World War II, U.S. Marines hit the beach and charge over a dune on Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands Feb. 19, 1945, the start of one of the deadliest battles of the war against Japan.

Cavernous caves, some housing hundreds of combatants, and complex interconnecting tunnels in Mount Suribachi and smaller hills throughout the island were well-hidden, housing enemy emplacements of artillery, mortars and machine guns little bothered by bombardment from allied battleships and bombers.

Into this waiting, bated maelstrom, wave after wave of young Marines came ashore with hearts racing, with locked and loaded weapons at port, fearful of death or crippling wounds — but they came on, many to never walk again, many buried there and many leaving behind their shredded mortal remains scattered among the volcanic ashes. But they came on……..

The total casualties on Iwo Jima numbered 26,040 with 6,821 killed and 19,217 wounded.

U.S. kills al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula leader in Yemen 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Thursday the United States had killed Qassim al-Raymi, the leader of Islamist group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), in a counterterrorism operation in Yemen.

“Under Rimi, AQAP committed unconscionable violence against civilians in Yemen and sought to conduct and inspire numerous attacks against the United States and our forces,” Trump said in a statement.

“His death further degrades AQAP and the global al-Qa’ida movement, and it brings us closer to eliminating the threats these groups pose to our national security,” the president said. He did not say when Raymi was killed.

The United States regards AQAP as one of the deadliest branches of the al Qaeda network founded by Osama bin Laden.

Reports in Yemen have suggested in recent days that Raymi had been killed in a drone strike in Marib. Reuters was unable to verify the reports.

One Yemeni government official told Reuters there had been a drone strike in Marib but it was not Raymi who had been killed.

M240B Medium Machine Gun

The current M240 is a slightly modified version of the FN-MAG , which is derived from the FN Model-D BAR, which is a modified version of the Ye Olde BAR designed right at the end of World War 1 by His Royal Highness of Gun Design, John Moses Browning hisself.

Interesting that two of the action types he designed, the M2 and the BAR are still being used as standard issue over a century after they were taken from the drafting desk and put into production.

In my experience the M240 beats all other man portable medium caliber belt fed mgs hands down in reliability and accuracy. In the decades I worked on, and shot them, I never had one fail on me or have to code one out due to simple wear. And as long as my guys didn’t treat it like it was one of their Mini-guns, or try some half-baked idea on dry lubrication because they didn’t like having to clean them everyday in the desert, it would always work when they needed it to.

One Step Closer to a Batsuit for Soldiers

If they name it Nemourlon, then add it onto a powered exosuit………..

Researchers announce new military funding in search for body armor skin that could be 300 times stronger than anything we’ve seen before.

In Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, there’s a scene where inventor Lucius Fox, played by Morgan Freeman, explains that Wayne Enterprises has created a prototype body armor for the U.S. infantry that’s as light as kevlar but bullet and knife proof. Bruce Wayne asks why it never went into production. “The bean counters figured a soldier’s life wasn’t worth the 300 grand,” Fox replies.

In real life, and with Defense Department money, researchers from Florida Atlantic University, or FAU, are using advanced polymers and carbon nanotubes to engineer a new type of body fabric that could eventually prove to be 300 times as strong as today’s state of the art, but just as light.

Hassan Mahfuz, the lead investigator on the project at FAU, says that “the whole idea is to absorb the energy and be able to dissipate very quickly so it doesn’t concentrate,” and pierce the fabric and the person inside of it.

How do you do that? As Mahfuz and several colleagues from different institutions point out in this paper, you need to create an entirely new type of treatment for nylon fabric, a hybrid mixture of a polymer that Mahfuz describes as similar to Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene and carbon nanotubes. The former has been around since the 1950s, the latter was only discovered in 1991. They’re hollow cylinders of carbon molecules, a product of nanotechnology, or the manipulation of objects at a billionth of a meter in size.

Carbon nanotubes are so strong and light (roughly 100 times stronger than steel but one-sixth of the weight) that researchers have proposed they may play a role in super springsdrug delivery, and future hypersonic weapons. Getting them to interact with ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene will be key to realizing ever higher levels of strength.

The Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office has provided about $569,000 in funding for the effort according to a release on Wednesday from the University.

“My first attempt is to increase [strength] by 25 percent” above the current state of the art within a year, said Mahfuz, who expressed confidence that he would eventually reach a 300 percent strength increase but couldn’t speculate on the timing, since research is ongoing. “As we publish, we’ll know,” he said

Army Rangers Conducted the Most Successful Rescue Mission in U.S. History 75 Years Ago

After the end of the war when all the PW records could be correlated with the lists of the still missing in action, it was determined that a great uncle was one of those who had died on the Bataan Death March.

Seventy-five years ago a company of Army Rangers and Filipino guerrilla fighters conducted the most successful rescue mission in U.S. military history, freeing over 500 prisoners of war being held by the Japanese.

The raid took place at Cabanatuan prison camp, located about 65 miles north of Manila, in the Philippines.

Most of the POWs in the camp were survivors of the infamous Bataan Death March, which took place in the spring of 1942………

In early January 1945, U.S. forces landed on Luzon island and began the push toward Manila.

By this time, most of the American POWs had been transported back to Japan or Manchuria to work as slave laborers.

However, among those remaining were over 500 being held at Cabanatuan.

When one of MacArthur’s top generals, Sixth Army commander Gen. Walter Krueger, learned of the camp, he green-lit a mission to rescue the POWs, knowing they were in danger of being killed by the Japanese as American forces drew near……

Charlie Company of the 6th Ranger Battalion, beefed up with an extra platoon to be 120 strong, was chosen for the perilous mission to slip 30 miles behind enemy lines, undetected, liberate the camp and lead the POWs back to freedom.

They would be supported on the mission by 200 Philippine guerrilla fighters.

Opposing them would be approximately 250 Japanese guards and other troops housed at Cabanatuan, with nearly 1,000 Japanese soldiers positioned less than a mile from the camp.

Only four miles away, at Cabanatuan City, were an additional 9,000 Japanese forces……

Armed with intelligence provided by Filipino guerrillas and the 6th Army’s Alamo Scouts, Mucci and his men crossed into enemy-held territory on the morning of Jan. 28…….

The Rangers launched the raid of Cabanatuan on the evening of Jan. 30.

A P-61 Black Widow fighter plane flew low over the camp creating a diversion, so the U.S. troops could draw in close to the fence-line undetected.

Suddenly, at 7:44 p.m. local time, the night sky lit up with a fusillade of gunfire as Rangers took out the Japanese guards in their assigned sectors.

The Americans quickly broke through the front gate and fanned out into the camp.

The frenetic scene during the liberation was depicted in the 2005 film “The Great Raid.”

All the POWs were directed to go to the front gate if they could walk (or Rangers carried them). There, they were met and escorted to a nearby riverbed.

The most fragile among them were then loaded onto caraboa (ox) carts provided by the local Filipinos.

Meanwhile, less than a mile from Cabanatuan, 200 Philippine guerrillas under the leadership of Captain Juan Pajota held off nearly a thousand Japanese soldiers.

Pajota’s men managed to partially blow a bridge over the Cabu River, which ran between Cabanatuan and the Japanese forces, which prevented tanks and other heavy vehicles from crossing.

The liberated POWs, guarded by the Rangers and guerrillas, marched through the night toward the American lines, only encountering some light Japanese resistance along the way……..