MANILA - Preparations for the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the decisive Leyte Landing by Gen. Douglas MacArthur and his forces on October 20, 1944 are underway.
This was disclosed Monday by Palo town Mayor Remedios L. Petilla of Leyte during the weekly “Kapihan sa Manila Hotel” hosted by Samahang Plaridel headed by veteran journalist Rolly Estabillo.
Petilla said that a few surviving World War II veterans will be invited to grace the historic Leyte Landing celebration. They are now in their 90s or even 100 years old.
The Philippine Veterans Affairs Office currently headed by retired Gen. Nestor Carolina will spearhead the forthcoming Leyte Landing anniversary to be held at Palo, Leyte.
Famous historian Xiao Chua, one of the guest speakers during the forum, said the Battle of Leyte Gulf was the turning point of the Pacific War when American and allied forces defeated the Japanese naval fleet.
The Battle of Leyte Gulf was the greatest naval battle in history to date, involving MacArthur's more than 300,000 troops, against 85,000 Japanese Imperial forces.
Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita was the commander of the Japanese Imperial Army in the Philippines during the war.
The Americans had 211 warships, including 16 carriers and 12 battle ships as against the Japanese, which had only 68 warships.
American forces had 1,300 warplanes compared to Japan’s 300 aircraft.
This was a sharp contrast to what took place at the outbreak of the war when the Japanese crushed the American and Filipino forces in Bataan, then occupied the Philippines for over three years.
The invasion of Leyte began at dawn of Oct. 17, 1944 when US troops sneaked into the island, taking the Japanese by surprise.
The Japanese believed that MacArthur's forces would land in Mindanao, but the brilliant American general chose Leyte instead, which was less fortified by the Japanese.
The successful landing by US and allied forces in Palo, Leyte fulfilled MacArthur’s promise of “I shall return” to liberate the Philippines from the clutches of the Japanese invaders. (PNA)