‘I’m 101 and still faithful to the flag’

LOCAL VOICES

The U.S. Marine Corps has a famous monument near Washington, D.C., of the flag-raising on the island of Iwo Jima in the Pacific during World War II.

Another flag-raising of WWII is not as well remembered: the one on Corregidor Island in the Philippine Islands.

In the spring of 1942, the Japanese captured Corregidor at the entrance of Manila Bay. They took down the U.S. flag, let it fall on the ground, stomped on it, and raised the Japanese flag.

It was a humiliating act to our flag and nation.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur had just escaped from the island in a PT boat. The defenders of the island were either killed or taken prisoner of war.

I was in the army at that time and thought that somehow, some way, our flag would fly over Corregidor again. Three years later, it happened. Troops dropped in parachutes and infantry stormed the beaches to retake Corregidor.

After Corregidor was secured, MacArthur came back to raise the flag again. He said, “Have your troops hoist the colors to the peak and let no enemy ever haul them down again.”

That same year (1945), I was in the Philippine Islands waiting to come home from the war.

The ship I returned home on left Manila and passed by Corregidor. I stood on the deck and saw a wonderful sight on Corregidor. On a broken and bent flagpole, our flag was waving in the morning breeze.

It was an emotional time to see our flag on Corregidor at the end of my military service in WWII. It was a beautiful day, and the island looked so peaceful.

Brave men fought and died defending the island, and brave men regained the island. They were loyal to their flag.

I am 101 years old, but my memory of the flag on Corregidor is still fresh in my mind after 72 years. With all the lack of respect for our national anthem and flag today, I affirm that if I am physically able, I will stand for the national anthem and honor the flag.

My generation was faithful to the flag and kept it waving over our land. I hope this present generation is as patriotic as the men who put back the flag on Corregidor.

Richard S. Van Scoyoc is a retired lieutenant colonel from the United States Air Force. He resides in Altoona.