The municipality of Guiuan in Eastern Samar recently commemorated the Suluan Raid, a largely-unknown event that started the Battle of Leyte Gulf in 1944.
The Battle of Leyte Gulf is a naval and air conflict which happened in October 1944, touted to be the largest naval battle in history which crippled the Japanese imperial forces, leading to the invasion of the Allied Forces in the country and the subsequent defeat of the enemy.
In the program held at the American-era flagpole in Calicoan Island, which formed part of the Advance Base Construction Depot of the United States forces during the Second World War, mayor Annaliza Gonzales-Kwan said the Suluan Raid, a significant episode in Philippine history, should not be forgotten as it played an important part in the liberation of the country.
“For the 75th anniversary of the Leyte Landing and the Suluan Raid, may the role of Guiuan during World War II be revived and remembered again,” she said.
It was in 17 October 1944 that the US 6th Ranger Infantry Battalion secured three islands in the easternmost part of Leyte Gulf — Suluan, Dinagat, and Homonhon—with minesweeping operations to clear the area of enemy forces and give way to an unimpeded invasion of the Allied Forces which would happen three days after with the arrival of Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Leyte on 20 October.
In Suluan, members of the 6th Ranger Infantry Battalion engaged a small number of Japanese forces and destroyed a radio station. They occupied the nearby island of Homonhon the next day.
Following the successful invasion of the said islands, the battalion erected navigation lights to aid the advancing Allied Forces.
After the defeat of the Japanese in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, which ended on 25 October, the US forces erected other military facilities in Guiuan as their base for the succeeding campaigns in other parts of the country, China and Taiwan.
The US Naval Base and Airfield in Guiuan, constructed in December 1944, was composed of an airfield, the Advance Base Construction Depot (a navy supply depot) in Calicoan Island, receiving station in Tubabao Island which would become a refugee camp for White Russians from 1949 to 1951, and a major destroyer repair base and ship repair unit in Manicani Island. These sites were decommissioned after the war.
In 2013, the Guiuan Airstrip was used as a hub for relief operations in the aftermath of super typhoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan).