From the #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of No Easy Day comes a thrilling World War II story of the American airborne soldiers who captured a Japanese-held island fortress
“Rock Force is a beautifully told story of war: the friendships, the courage and despair, and the terror... One of the most exciting books ever written about the Pacific War.”—Mitch Weiss, New York Times bestselling coauthor of Countdown 1945
In late December 1941, General Douglas MacArthur, caught off guard by the Japanese invasion of the Philippines, is forced to retreat to Corregidor, a jagged, rocky island fortress at the mouth of Manila Bay. Months later, under orders from the president, the general is whisked away in the dark of night, leaving his troops to their fate. It is a bitter pill for a fiercely proud warrior who has always protected his men. He famously declares "I shall return," but the humiliation of Corregidor haunts him, even earning him the derisive nickname "Dugout Doug."
In early 1945, MacArthur returns to the Philippines, his eyes firmly fixed on Corregidor. To take back the island, he calls on the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, a highly trained veteran airborne unit. Their mission is to jump onto the island—hemmed in by sheer cliffs, pockmarked by bomb craters, bristling with deadly spiky broken tree trunks—and wrest it from some 6,700 Japanese defenders who await, fully armed and ready to fight to the death.
Drawn from firsthand accounts and personal interviews with the battle's surviving veterans, acclaimed war correspondent and bestselling author Kevin Maurer delves into this extraordinary tale, uncovering astonishing accounts of bravery and heroism during an epic, yet largely forgotten, clash of the Pacific War. Here is an intimate story of uncommon soldiers showing uncommon courage and winning, through blood and sacrifice, the redemption of General MacArthur.
Journalist Maurer (coauthor, No Easy Day) delivers a straightforward account of the battle for the Philippines island of Corregidor during WWII. After fleeing the island in March 1942, two months before it succumbed to Japanese forces, Gen. Douglas MacArthur needed to retake Corregidor as part of the U.S. military's "stepping-stone" strategy for an invasion of Japan. In February 1944, paratroopers from the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment under the command of Col. George Jones landed on the head of the tadpole-shaped island, in an area known as Topside. Drawing on letters and war journals, Maurer follows Jones and other officers, as well as enlisted men, throughout the difficult and dangerous campaign, which involved extracting determined Japanese soldiers from caves and other underground fortifications previously occupied by the Americans. In the end, the two-week battle for Corregidor cost 228 American lives with another 727 injured or wounded, while the Japanese lost 4,497 men. Maurer includes several intriguing scenes from the Japanese perspective, and dramatically describes many individual acts of American heroism, but the sorties and missions begin to blur together, and the links to the larger war effort are somewhat underdeveloped. This tightly focused history is best suited to WWII completists.