My trip to MacArthur Park

by Rune Monseth June. 24, 2018 402 views
General Douglas McArthur.

General Douglas McArthur.

The MacArthur Leyte Landing Memorial National Park (MacArthur Park) is a protected area of the Philippines that commemorates the historic landing of General Douglas MacArthur in Leyte Gulf at the start of the campaign to recapture and liberate the Philippines from Japanese occupation on 20 October 1944. This event led to the largest naval battle of World War II and Japan's eventual defeat and surrender after almost three years. The war memorial is located in the municipality of Palo on Leyte island in Eastern Visayas.

I always wanted to see this Park. I have been interested in ww2 history since i was a kid and in 2010 it was my turn to visit the place.

The trip started on May 24 from Cebu, Philippines in the evening. The ferry takes 5-6 hours and arrived in Ormoc, Leyte around 2 in the morning.

After arrival in Leyte in the morning May 25. The ferry is buildt on top of a american landing craft from WW2.

After arrival in Leyte in the morning May 25. The ferry is buildt on top of a american landing craft from WW2.

Thats the reason i rented the one of the two VIP rooms in this ferry. The alternative is to "sleep" on one of the bunk beds with all the other passengers on the ferry. Since the ferry would not return to Cebu before 10 in the morning i could sleep comfortable, with a locked door, as long as i wanted before i had to leave the ferry. It was a big room with a bathroom and aircon. I was surpriced to find this inside a ferry like this. It was not cheap, but 2 persons and my motorcycle was included and i was not eager to start to drive from Ormoc to Tacloban 2 o`clock in the morning.

Thats not me :)

Thats not me :)

Went off the Ferry 06.20 in the morning and started to drive. Did a few stops on the way to get something to drink and arrived in Tacloban around... i dont know when but we have checked in to Manhattan Hotel around 2pm. Spent the rest of day resting and looking around in the city. When i wake up in the morning on May 26 its been raining a lot.

Hotel Manhattan in Tacloban Leyte.

Hotel Manhattan in Tacloban Leyte.

View from my window in the morning.

View from my window in the morning.

After some breakfast we went to MacArthur Park. The weather was now good but very hot. It was a strange feeling to finally be here.

The memorial park.

The memorial park.

Left side.

Left side.

Right side.

Right side.

After all these years...

After all these years...

This is the place. Im here.

Seven heroes and one thats not.

Seven heroes and one thats not.

Me and MacArthur. I had no clue that he was so tall :)

Me and MacArthur. I had no clue that he was so tall :)

Filipinos.....it was here it happened.......

Filipinos.....it was here it happened.......

On October 20, 1944, the U.S. Sixth Army, supported by naval and air bombardment, landed on the favorable eastern shore of Leyte, one of the islands of the Visayas island group, northeast of Mindanao. The Japanese miscalculated the relative strength of the naval and air forces, and they attempted to destroy the landing. This brought about the massive sequence of battles called the Battle of Leyte Gulf, fought on October 23 through October 26. This decisive victory by the U.S. Navy, its Fast Carrier Task Force, its surface fleet, and its submarines effectively destroyed the remainder of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN), which had already lost all of its effective aircraft carrier forces. The IJN had four of its carriers sunk (ships with depleted air squadrons – which were used only as decoys), numerous battleships and heavy cruisers, and a large number of light cruisers and destroyers. The IJN was never able to fight a major battle after this.

Many people lost their lives here.

Many people lost their lives here.

The Japanese lost 12,500 naval soldiers while the Allied forces suffered around 2,800 casualties in a battle where the latter claimed victory. The Battle of Leyte Gulf is known as the largest naval battle in modern history in terms of the number of soldiers involved in the battle

Marker October 20, 1994

Marker October 20, 1994

The U.S. Sixth Army continued its advance from the east, as the Japanese rushed reinforcements to the Ormoc Bay area on the western side of the island. While the Sixth Army was continually reinforced, the U.S. Fifth Air Force was able to devastate the Japanese attempts at air attacks, and also provide much support to the Army's ground troops.

The Filipino guerrillas also performed valuable service in maintaining public order and in keeping the roads and highways free of congestion. After the American beachheads were established, the Leyte guerrilla groups were attached directly to the Sixth Army corps and divisions to assist in scouting, intelligence, and combat operations.

When sitting here its like you can hear the sounds of what happened here.

When sitting here its like you can hear the sounds of what happened here.

With the initial U.S. Sixth Army landings on the beaches at Tacloban and Dulag, Colonel Ruperto Kangleon's units went into action. They dynamited key bridges to block Japanese displacement toward the target area; they harassed enemy patrols; and they sabotaged supply and ammunition depots. Information on enemy troop movements and dispositions sent from guerrilla outposts to Kangleon's Headquarters was dispatched immediately to Sixth Army.[21]

During many torrential rains and over difficult terrain, the advance continued across Leyte and onto the major island of Samar, just north of Leyte. On December 7, 1944, the U.S. Army units made another amphibious landing at Ormoc Bay and, after a major land and air battle, the landing force cut off all Japanese ability to reinforce and resupply their troops on Leyte. Although fierce fighting continued on Leyte for months, the U.S. Army was always in control.

After the visit to MacArtur Park we went south to Dulag, around 40 minutes drive.

Dulag, Leyte.

Dulag, Leyte.

Hill 120 is located in Dulag, Leyte which is 34 km. from Tacloban City. Commonly called Catmon Hill, this is where the first American flag was raised by the Liberation Forces of the U.S. Army on October 20, 1944 after the Fall of Bataan. Battle sites of Leyte Valley can also be found here.

Located next to the Japanese memorial at the base of the hill is the simple grave to an unknown American soldier.

Located next to the Japanese memorial at the base of the hill is the simple grave to an unknown American soldier.

This is the way up to Hill 120

Hill 120, Dulag, Leyte.

Hill 120, Dulag, Leyte.

On the way up.

A break is nessesary.. its very hot..

A break is nessesary.. its very hot..

There is a large helmet shaped monument to the 96th Infantry Division, and the other American units at the top of the hill.

Hill 120, Dulag, Leyte.

Hill 120, Dulag, Leyte.

The hill top has a lookout tower and a commanding view over the Leyte Gulf to the east.

Lookout Tower.

Lookout Tower.

Hill 120, Dulag, Leyte.

Hill 120, Dulag, Leyte.

After a long, but very interesting day, it was still some time left before dark so me and my passenger went on a short trip over the San Juanito bridge to Samar.

The bridge is considered by the government as a main tourist destination of the Tacloban. San Juanico bridge is also serves as an important role for both the tourism and economies of the islands of Samar and Leyte by linking them.

Me and my old bike. I can see it was time to get something bigger. That happened later the same year.. )

Me and my old bike. I can see it was time to get something bigger. That happened later the same year.. )

My company and Guide. She lived in Cebu City but her parents live in Leyte. So she joined me or maybe I joined her because she was going to visit her parents at that time. They lived a few kilometers outside Tacloban and she stayed there. She came to my hotel every morning before we went out. A great help, guide and a very nice girl. I havent seen her for a long time and I hope she is doing well. Thank you.

My guide.

My guide.

Some kids that was following us up to one of the hilltops in Leyte.

On the way back to Cebu. View from hotelroom in Ormoc, Leyte. Waiting for the ferry to arrive.

Rune M -

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