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MacArthur Returns Again, With a Splash

October 21, 1994|From Associated Press

RED BEACH, Philippines — Gen. MacArthur tumbled into the surf, and the Marines were all Filipino. But the rest was a more exact replay of history Thursday, the 50th anniversary of the U.S. landing on Leyte Island.

Philippine marines in World War II American battle dress stormed the beach, while U.S. veterans exchanged memories of one of the turning points of the war.

Four U.S. Army divisions came ashore on Oct. 20, 1944, the first main American landing in the campaign to recover the Philippines from the Japanese, who occupied Leyte in early 1942.

What followed was history's biggest battle of the seas. U.S. forces destroyed the Japanese fleet within days, but it took them six months and nearly 4,000 American lives to gain control of the island.

On Thursday, U.S. Defense Secretary William J. Perry and Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, joined President Fidel V. Ramos in commemorating the landing on Leyte. Representatives from 10 other countries also took part.

The re-enactment might have gone off without a hitch except that Ken Metcalfe, the actor playing Gen. Douglas MacArthur, fell from his landing craft.

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