CORREGIDOR, Philippines --
Seventy-five years after the battle and fall of Corregidor, current day members of 4th Marine Regiment, the unit that fought valiantly during that World War II battle, returned to the island for a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary, May 6, 2017.
The island of Corregidor fell to the Japanese May 6, 1942, after a bloody battle, marking the surrender of the entire Philippines to the Japanese, which would not be recaptured until 1945.
Sustaining constant bombardment and low rations of food and water, 800 Marines with the 4th Marine Regiment, joined by thousands of U.S. Soldiers, Sailors and Filipino scouts, fought hard to defend the island. Despite the fierce resistance, Japanese naval landing craft and tanks closed in on the Malinta Tunnel, the command post and medical center where thousands of wounded troops were being treated. Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright, commander of U.S. and Filipino forces, surrendered all of the Philippines.
“’Lest we forget,’ those three words are the reason we are out here today honoring the memory of the 4th Marines that fought here, honoring the regimental colors, and with humble pride, remembering that this is an important part of our history,” said Col. Kevin A. Norton, commanding officer of 4th Marine Regiment.
Marines of 4th Marine Regiment spent two days hiking around the island, crawling through tunnels, seeing the remnants of the old defensive positions, and learning about their history and heritage on the island.
“We brought 40 Marines down from Okinawa under the 4th Marines and studied the history, crawled through the caves, and commemorated the anniversary with the ceremony today,” Norton said. “We feel privileged to honor the Marines of today and yesterday who fought under the 4th Marines.”
At noon, May 6, the light coming through the top of the dome Pacific War Memorial at Corregidor Island, shines directly on a circular slab, marking the exact time and day of the surrender.
“As allies, friends, and partners, our two great nations have faced together both triumph and adversity,” said the Honorable Sung Y. Kim, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines. “We gather today to honor and commemorate the men and women who displayed amazing bravery, honor, courage, and dignity in the face of incredible adversity.”
Norton explained they are there to keep the story of those brave men and women alive.
“The Marines who fought on Corregidor didn’t carry the day, but their example inspired an entire generation which eventually would see victory in World War II, and it continues to inspire us today,” Norton said.
Kim’s first trip to Corregidor as ambassador was a special experience, participating in the 75th anniversary ceremony and sharing that experience with the present-day Marines of the same unit that fought there so long ago.
“I am deeply grateful that Col. Norton and the Marines of the 4th Marine Regiment are here,” Kim said. “Your presence is a clear reflection of the Marine Corps’ dedication and commitment to its history, and to its allies in the Philippines.”