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  The Reconnaissance Mission at Los Baños  
  by Sgt. Martin Squires, 11th Airborne Div. Recon Platoon  
  My View of the Los Baños Raid.  We had been contacted by escapees from Los Baños on two occasions.  These men were Ben Edwards, Pete Miles and Freddie Zervoulakos.  They had made their way to the 11th Airborne Division Headquarters and gave us details about conditions in the prison camp, camp layout and location of the guard stations and guard routine.  
  After a hurried meeting for planning the raid, we were on our way.  Our mission was:  
  To cross Laguna de Bay in bancas on the night of February 21st .  
  To hide in a village school house through the day of the 22nd .    
  Then during the night of the 22nd to proceed to the Los Baños internment Camp.  
  Get into pre-assigned areas ready to attack the guards at 0700 hours of the 23rd.  
  The attack was to begin when the first B-511th trooper “hit the silk.”  Their mission was to support us to clear out the Japanese guards at the pillboxes, guard posts and help move the internees out of the camp.  
  We moved by truck to the small village of Wulilyos on the edge of Laguna de Bay, where we divided into groups to cross the lake in three bancas, two small ones and one large one.  
  Lt. Skau sailed first with his group around 8:00pm and arrived across the lake near Nanhaya in about 8 hours.  I left around an hour later with my group and arrived at Nanhaya about 10 hours later.  The third and largest banca had trouble getting started.  It left after 10:00pm and did not arrive at Nanhaya until about 20 hours later.  The increased time it took to cross was due to the wind dying down.    
  The Japanese patrolled the lake with a motor launch.  We heard the motor noise, but they did not discover use.  To avoid alerting the Japanese, during the daylight hours, we would lie low so as not be seen and tried to appear as fishing boat.  Had they detected us the results of the raid could have been tragic, not only for ourselves, but for the internees and the B-511th troopers who were to drop near the camp.  It was a very tense situation to be calm in plain sight in the middle of the lake.  
  Once having crossed the lake, it was even more tense staying out of sight waiting for the big banca to arrive.  Being they did not arrive for so long, we had given them up as lost.  Although we then had about one half of the Recon Platoon present, Lt. Skau had no choice but to reassign men to cover the camp attack.  The mission had to go on, even though our strength was down from about 24 men to 12 men.  My assault group consisted of Gene Lynch, Wayne Milton, Ben Edwards (one of the escaped internees) and myself.  Additionally, I had about 15 Philippine guerrillas.  
  At dusk, as we were about to take off for San Antonio Beach, the last lap before our attack, the large banca arrived with the rest of the Recon Platoon.  Although we were rearranged in assignments, we took off in full strength.  Leaving the beach our approach to the camp was very cautious and extremely quiet.  We stopped a couple times to sit in silence while a Japanese patrol passed.  Why they made so much noise, I’ll never know, but it certainly worked in our favor.  Our orders were not to return fire if fired upon.  We could not alert them to the fact that troops were in the area.    
  My assault group had the farthest to go, since our assigned section was the Northwest quarter of the Camp, and we had to go all the way around Camp to get there.  The scheduled time for the attack was at 0700 hours.  In the darkness, just as we were approaching the Camp, my patrol became separated.  I discovered there was no column behind me, no Recon’ers or guerillas.  I sent Edwards and our guide on ahead, then ran back about a quarter or half mile to find Lynch and Milton.  I found them sitting and waiting at a slight fork in the trail.  They had reached the fork, had not guide, had lost contact with the guerillas, so they sat down and waited.  They said, “they knew I would come back.”  They also said, “they heard me coming and knew that on one could make that much noise but me, otherwise they may have shot me.”  Needless to say we left all caution to the winds and raced toward the Camp as the firing began.  
  After the firing ceased, we entered the Camp and began to organize the internees for the evacuation.  The sight of these people and their physical condition was appalling.  It was also heart-ending.  It was not without some humor, as a little 3 year old girl said, “Mommy, is he Japanese?”  This is one Recon trooper’s version on part of the Los Baños raid.  Terry Santos and I were the last two Recon’ers to leave the Camp and we were on one of the last Amtrac's to leave shore.  The Japanese were laying down fire on us as we left.  
  About the author: Martin married a pretty Los Baños internee by the name of Margaret Whitaker.  Martin’s mother was the go-between when she read in a local paper of a woman living in Bellingham, WA with two daughters that had been imprisoned at Los Baños.  After his graduation from the Univ. of Washington and 1 ½ years of courtship with Margaret, they were married in 1947.  Martin retired as an aerospace engineer, after 27 years with Boeing, he passed away on Feb. 1, 2000.  
  Editing provided by Leo Kocher  
  Courtesy of Airborne Quarterly and “Winds Aloft” of the 511th PIR Association.