U.S. Forces Began Main Battle For Philippines 75 Years Ago

The battleships USS Pennsylvania and Colorado lead three heavy cruisers into Lingayen Gulf, Philippines, for the preassault bombardment of Japanese shore positions sometime in early January 1945. (Navy photograph)

Seventy-five years ago, U.S. forces began the invasion of Luzon, the largest and most populous island in the Philippines, thereby fulfilling Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s 1942 pledge to recapture the island from the Japanese.

Since the Japanese controlled nearly every island between the Philippines and Hawaii in 1942, getting to the Philippines meant seizing many of those islands, which included Guadalcanal, Saipan, Tinian, Tarawa and Peleliu. The islands would provide runways for U.S. aircraft and deny them to Japan.

A first wave of U.S. troops approaches the beaches of northwest Luzon, Philippines, Jan. 9, 1945. (Navy photograph)

U.S. Navy ships come under attack while entering Lingayen Gulf, Philippines, Jan. 6, 1945. (Navy photograph)

U.S. soldiers fight their way through Baleta Pass near Baugio, Luzon, Philippines, sometime in late February 1945. (Army photograph)