On January 28, 1945, 121 hand-selected U.S. troops slipped behind enemy lines in the Philippines. Their mission: March thirty rugged miles to rescue 513 POWs languishing in a hellish camp, among them the last survivors of the infamous Bataan Death March. A recent prison massacre by Japanese soldiers elsewhere in the Philippines made the stakes impossibly high and left little time to plan the complex operation.
In Ghost Soldiers Hampton Sides vividly re-creates this daring raid, offering a minute-by-minute narration that unfolds alongside intimate portraits of the prisoners and their lives in the camp. Sides shows how the POWs banded together to survive, defying the Japanese authorities even as they endured starvation, tropical diseases, and torture. Harrowing, poignant, and inspiring, Ghost Soldiers is the mesmerizing story of a remarkable mission. It is also a testament to the human spirit, an account of enormous bravery and self-sacrifice amid the most trying conditions.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of History eBook: Ghost Soldiers|
|Release Date: 09-17-2002|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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|Parent title||Ghost Soldiers|
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Dr. Ralph Emerson Hibbs lay delirious in a ditch at the tattered edge of the jungle, his teeth clicking with chills. The malarial attack came over him suddenly, as they always did, the strength dropping from his legs like an untethered weight. In their thousands the parasites were reproducing inside him, Plasmodium vivax bursting from his liver and into his bloodstream. The doctor had nothing with which to treat himself. He couldn't work, he couldn't think. He had to ride out the fever as everyone else did, helplessly, shivering in a ditch by the side of a battle-pocked road. An Army captain and a graduate of the University of Iowa Medical School, Dr. Hibbs was the surgeon of the 2nd Battalion of the 31st Infantry Regiment, a man responsible for the health of some 700 soldiers in the field, but he had no quinine. On the anopheles-infested peninsula of Bataan at the end of the first week of April 1942, there was virtually no quinine to be had.
Along with thousands of other malarial men, Dr. Hibbs had been walking out of the mountains down the zigzag road toward Mariveles. In great haste and confusion, the men were stumbling south to escape the turmoil and the butchery of the front lines, where for the past week the Japanese onslaught had been merciless. One participant later described the exodus: "Thousands poured out of the jungle like small spring freshets pouring into creeks which in turn poured into a river." As they walked, the soldiers picked their way around bomb craters and bits of embedded shrapnel. The jungle smoked all about them. Overturned wrecks of jeeps and half-tracks lay smoldering in the creeper ferns. The ratta