It had all begun, back in February, 1943, at a now-long-forgotten post called Camp MacKall. There, in the wilderness of North Carolina, the 11th Airborne Division was brought to life. Those who were there at the beginning and those would come along much later were drawn from all parts of the country and all walks of life. At their head was Maj. Gen. Joseph M. Swing.
In next 2 1/2 years, the division would prove its worth time and again as it fought the war in the Pacific. There were the vicious and costly battles to wrest back the Philippines from a determined enemy. There was the lightning raid that freed 2,134 prisoners interned at a prison camp simply called Los Banos. Leyte, Mindoro, Luzon, Nasugbu, Tagaytay Bridge, Imus. All names that bring back the good and bad memories of what became know as "the dash for Manila."