503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment     462nd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion
161st Parachute Engineer Company
April 17, 1995
U.S. Army Intelligence Center and Ft. Huachuca
Fort Huachuca, AZ 85613-6000
Just over 50 years ago The Rock Force, comprised of the 503rd Parachute Regimental Combat Team, the organization which I commanded, with accompanying ground, naval and air units, successfully launched what is considered a classic airborne assault--the retaking of Corregidor Island in Manila Bay, Philippine Islands.

Corregidor was more than the fortress commanding access to Manila Harbor essential to the logistics of our forces in the northern Philippines. In the minds and memories of the American people, Corregidor was where we had suffered the ignominy of our nation's worst defeat in WW II. Questions had been asked but not answered of how we could have been caught by surprise and of how we had to abandon thousands of our own troops and our faithful Filipino allies.

To take back Corregidor was to vindicate our losses and erase some of the shame of our surrender. Every member of my Rock Force was proud to have been part of the recapturing of that stronghold and we earned the Distinguished (Presidential) Unit Citation, a copy of which is attached.

Because of the many tunnels and passageways which we ourselves had built in the island starting in 1905, accurate intelligence estimates of enemy opposing forces were extremely difficult to obtain. Fortunately, I had previously had the services of a Japanese American language specialist attached to my unit for the invasion of Mindoro Island. I obtained approval for him to accompany us on our assault on Corregidor. There could have been a problem about this since he was not airborne qualified and, therefore, was not a volunteer for such service. When I asked him if he would join us, he told me that he already felt as if he were a member of my unit and would be honored to be of service to us. With only the barest minimum of instruction, he jumped onto the jagged trees and rubble and into the fire of a determined enemy. Specialist Harry Akune, a Japanese American, faced particular hazards of being mistaken for a Japanese soldier by our own forces and, if captured by the enemy, would have suffered terrible mistreatment by the Japanese.

Through his unique and valuable skills, Specialist Akune was able to obtain information from the 22 prisoners whom we captured that, without any doubt, materially assisted me and my staff in planning most effective measures to destroy the enemy. I can make the unqualified statement that he was essential in obtaining enemy information which shortened the operation and saved an untold number of American casualties.

Unfortunately, since he was only detailed to my unit, he was returned to his own organization before action for adequate acknowledgement could be made as we were rushing for our next operation in Negros Island. He never received recognition for his bravery and accomplishments We were able to obtain his official parachute wings several years ago, as explained in the attached article, but the time limitation for recommendations for official awards prohibited me from taking appropriate measures until now. His former comrades-in-arms join me in hoping that he will finally receive official recognition for his contribution to the success of our battles

The bravery of Mr. Akune and his accomplishments in actual combat are in the greatest traditions of the Army and the Military intelligence Hall of Fame. His joining the rolls of honorees there would be most fitting and would serve as an example for future intelligence personnel. If you have any further questions, I am authorizing Lieutenant Colonel Jack Herzig to assist you and to keep me apprised of any further action that you may require. We has prepared additional information as an enclosure to my request. Thank you for your consideration.