The Foreign Service Journal - December 2013 - page 24

its descent over the entrance to Manila Bay, directly above
Corregidor, scene of one of the most humiliating surrenders
in American history. To the north is the Bataan Peninsula,
crowned by the craggy 4,554-foot Mariveles Volcano that tow-
ers over Corregidor. Looking south out of the right window, one
sees Cavite province, where the Japanese began their bombard-
ment of U.S. forces on the island on Feb. 8, 1942.
During the final approach into Manila, I can clearly see the
World War II American Military Cemetery, a circular 152-acre
park containing 36,285 American dead, one of our largest
overseas military graveyards. Most of the casualties occurred
during the New Guinea, Philippine, China, Burma and India
Corregidor fell on May 6, 1942, after Lt. General Wain-
wright’s radio message to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
declared: “There is a limit of human endurance, and that point
has been long passed.” Through the invasion of the Philippines,
the Japanese were able to isolate the archipelago from resupply
and gain important airfields for operational thrusts throughout
the Pacific.
On to Guam
After an exchange of classified diplomatic pouches with
embassy personnel on the tarmac at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino
Airport, a complex change of aircraft for the subsequent
journey to Guam takes place. As a result of increased security
at airports worldwide, signing for classified material, chang-
ing airlines, paying excess baggage and moving the diplomatic
pouches from one plane to another are never easy. Only
Embassy Manila’s excellent support at the airport makes this
transit possible.
Three hours later, on the approach into Guam, I can see the
sawgrass hills of the island fringed by reefs in a single glance.
Because Guam is American territory, the security at the airport
is tighter than elsewhere in the region. The diplomatic courier
is not allowed to descend planeside at Won Pat International
Airport to retrieve our classified material, so a second courier is
sent from Bangkok ahead of time to act as a cleared escort.
Merely securing an airport badge ahead of time isn’t enough
to access the tarmac, however; the escort has to be joined
by a U.S. Transportation Security Administration employee
planeside. After a successful exchange of classified diplomatic
pouches with another government agency, the remaining
material is driven 30 minutes north to Andersen Air Base for
secure overnight storage along a flight line crowded with B-52s.
The interagency cooperation between the Diplomatic Courier
Service and the U.S. Air Force on Guam is seamless.
This Japanese gun emplacement on Tumon Beach in Guam is a
World War II relic.
A favorite contemporary image of Guam is the
Japanese pillbox under towering hotels on Tumon Beach.
Jiro Waters
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