Benjamin “Ben” Edwards
A happy-go-lucky Pan American Clipper mechanic based in Manila when war broke out. After being taken prisoner and held for more than three years, he escaped in a desperate effort to reach U.S. lines with vital information.
A dedicated U.S. Navy nurse held at Los Baños Internment Camp who, along with ten other captured nurses, did her best to care for the camp’s more than 2,000 men, women and children suffering from tropical diseases and severe malnutrition.
Gerald “Jerry” Sams
A radar expert and skilled jack-of-all-trades, Sams, who had served in the U.S. Marines and Coast Guard, built his own AM radio inside the prison camp and kept up on war news even though doing so meant the death penalty if he was discovered.
Taken prisoner with her young son after her husband, a mining engineer, went to Bataan to join the fight against the invading Japanese, she found herself on her own as she struggled to keep herself and her son alive.
The camp’s lone physician and member of the executive committee who never gave up trying to get more food and medicine brought into camp, Nance was not only a strong leader but also a skilled surgeon who saved many lives.
A Manila high school student when war began, she was taken prisoner with her family who ended up at Los Baños. As she watched her father’s health rapidly deteriorate, she wrote in her diary: “Rescue must come soon!” When the rescuers did come, among them was a young paratrooper destined to become her hero.
A Japanese Imperial Army warrant officer, Konishi was in charge at Los Baños. Harboring an open hatred of Westerners, particularly Americans, he promised that the starving prisoners would be “eating dirt” before long.
A Japanese Imperial Army Major General, Fujishige was in command of the Eighth Infantry Division with 8,000 to 10,000 men spread out in the hills and mountains a few miles south of Los Baños. They posed a serious threat to any rescue operation to liberate the camp and had to somehow be neutralized.
General Swing, the charismatic commander of the elite 11th Airborne Division, was personally given the mission to rescue the prisoners at Los Baños by General Douglas MacArthur. “Do it right, Joe,” implored a concerned MacArthur.
As the top intelligence officer of the 11th Airborne, the taciturn Lt. Colonel was given the task of helping to plan the raid deep behind enemy lines. His main concern was the prisoners being caught in a cross fire, resulting in heavy casualties. Then there was that Japanese infantry division just a few miles down the road. If they sent reinforcements, Muller knew that the mission of mercy could turn into a disaster.
The lead scout for the 11th Airborne’s reconnaissance mission, Sgt. Terry Santos, a Filipino-American born in Hawaii, would lead his men through the jungle the night before the raid and coordinate the opening attack with Filipino guerrillas.
As one of the pilots of the nine C-47s that would be delivering a company of paratroopers to a “postage-stamp size” drop zone next to the prison camp, Lt. Morley knew that a “misdrop” at the wrong location could cost many lives.