| 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.