Leadership Lessons From WWII Veteran Glenn Frazier – Better Marketing

The killing would begin in earnest about a week later when the first Japanese soldiers began invading the island. Though there were more than 80,000 troops under American command in the Philippines, they were quickly outmaneuvered and forced to retreat to the Bataan peninsula. Many of the soldiers led by General MacArthur were Filipinos that had only received four or five days of training. Because of their association with the locally raised soldiers, Frazier and his best friend Gerald Block knew first-hand the abysmal state of the Filipino troops.

Photo by Duncan Kidd on Unsplash

The result of the battle in the Philippines would prove to be the worst defeat ever suffered by the U.S. military. Doomed from the start, American forces retreated and were quickly hemmed in on the Bataan peninsula, where they were cut off from most of their supplies, including food and ammo. Frazier and his fellow drivers in the 75th Ordnance were in high demand delivering bullets to the front lines, but they were also involved in constant firefights with Japanese patrols trying to block them from resupplying the troops.

Frazier and Block used their position as supply runners to set up traps for the Japanese soldiers, killing as many as they could. The two teenage boys would tell double agents working with the Japanese that there were supplies of food or ammunition in train cars, or hiding in an empty unattended building. When the Japanese troops arrived to retrieve the supplies, they would unknowingly trigger booby traps that set off large caches of explosive ammunition, killing everyone in proximity.

While the American troops at Bataan held out for help, there would be no reinforcements coming. All of the ships that would have carried a rescuing force were sitting on the seafloor in Pearl Harbor. As time passed, the state of the U.S. forces began to deteriorate, and with limited rations, ammunition, and no air support, the superior Japanese forces were quickly whittling away at the last defenses.

A pivotal battle occurred at a place called Aglaloma Point. MacArthur had retreated to a neighboring island after the land invasion began, but now his outpost was under threat of being overrun. The Navy and Marines had been able to kill many advancing Japanese soldiers in the water, but they were unaware that behind the initial attack were another 5,000 highly trained troops ready to advance and cut the forces in two, thus taking Bataan and neighboring Corregidor, where MacArthur was holed up.

Frazier happened to be driving by Aglaloma Point delivering ammunition to the front lines when an Army Major flagged his Ordnance truck down. The young man from Fort Deposit had the authority to ignore this major, but something inside compelled him to stop.

The major guided Frazier over to a nearby cliff and told him to look below. There, about 500 feet below the two young American men, was a massive force of Japanese soldiers, concentrated on a horseshoe-shaped cove.

The Major explained that there was no way to hit the soldiers below because the cliffs were shielding them from gunfire and that it looked like the troops were preparing to climb the cliffs. Frazier devised a method for using the bombs in his truck, essentially recreating what would happen if they were being dropped from an airplane. The Americans managed to detonate two truckloads of ammunition meant to be dropped from the sky, killing almost the entire force of 5,000 Japanese soldiers.

Those who survived, however, scaled the cliffs and began attacking. Glenn Frazier found himself engaged in savage hand-to-hand combat with soldiers as young as he. Thanks to the knife that Bobby had given him, Frazier emerged from that day a blood-drenched hero of the American military. He had also become a hardened killer.

Despite their successes at Aglaloma Point, MacArthur had retreated from his stronghold and was on a speedboat headed for another island south of the Philippines. He took with him his staff, mother, son, and everything else, and ultimately went to Australia. Frazier and the remaining Americans at Bataan would hold out for another two months before the leadership finally gave the order to surrender. Frazier and his fellow soldiers laid down their guns, unaware of the horrors that were to follow.

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