Battle of Mindoro
The Battle of Mindoro refers to the invasion of United States (U.S.) forces of Mindoro Island from 15 to 16 December 1944 to establish a strong base of operations for the main invasion of Luzon island. The event is called sometimes called the ‘Second Landing’ (coming after the famous Leyte Landing) and was pivotal in the campaign to defeat the Japanese forces and liberate the Philippines.
Base of Operations
As U.S. forces successfully landed in Leyte, Gen. Douglas MacArthur realized the need for a base of operations closer to where the Imperial Japanese forces were. Furthermore, MacArthur thought the use of U.S. airpower in the region would not be maximized in a remote area like Leyte. After scouting, the island of Mindoro was chosen by his planners. Since it is near Manila and about half the size of the state of New Jersey, the island was a logical choice for the strategy, aside from the fact that it was not heavily defended by the Japanese. MacArthur assigned Lt., Gen. Walter Krueger of the U.S. Sixth Army, to seize Mindoro.
Threat of Kamikazes
However, U.S. forces were still troubled by Japanese "kamikaze" suicide planes which earlier struck at the naval task force ferrying the invading troops, killing over 130 men, and wounding another 190. They also destroyed U.S. battleships and fighter planes. The Japanese had begun the deadly strategy as a desperate measure during the final stages of the Leyte Campaign where they were annihilated by the U.S. forces.
On a clear sunny 15 December, the invasion of Mindoro began. The U.S. forces used six escort carriers, three battleships, six cruisers, and many other support warships which were met with light Japanese resistance. The supporting paratroopers came ashore in Mangarin Bay with the landing forces. Destroyers provided fire support for the troop landings and anti-aircraft protection for the ships in the transport area. However, two Landing Ship-Tank were struck by kamikaze planes.
Allied forces dominated the 1,000 defending Japanese, who were completely outnumbered and outgunned. Some 300 Japanese troops manning an air raid warning station at the island's northern end managed to put up a stiff fight against U.S. infantry troops but were repelled. The island was secure within 48 hours.
The defending Japanese forces on Mindoro suffered some 200 killed and 375 wounded. On the contrary, U.S. forces only lost 18 men and had 81 wounded. Army engineers immediately work to construct airfields for the invasion of Luzon. Within two weeks the airfields were completed. Together, the airfields allowed U.S. aircraft to provide closer direct support for the planned Luzon beachhead, striking kamikaze airfields before the deadly enemy planes could take off, and enabled interdiction flights on Japanese shipping between northern and southern Luzon and Formosa.
- World War II in the Pacific: An Encyclopedia (Military History of the United States) by S. Sandler (2000) Routledge ISBN 0-8153-1883-9
- U.S. Army Center of Military History: World War II Commemorative Brochures, Luzon. Army Military. (Accessed on 3 December 2009)
- San Jose. San Jose Official Website. (Accessed on 3 December 2009)