503rd Infantry, Corregidor, Operation Topside
At 0825 on 16 February 1945, the 503d Parachute Regimental Combat Team, affectionately known as The Rock Force courageously parachuted into 22-knot winds onto the fortified Island of Corregidor (The Rock) initiating Operation Topside. Defying a defending Japanese force of up to 6,550 in strength, the 2,050 paratroopers from the 503d Parachute Regimental Combat Team valiantly leapt from fifty-one C-47 aircraft of the 317th Troop Carrier Group at a 1,150 foot altitude onto a Drop Zone barely suitable for airborne operations. Topside Drop Zone was a rubble-strewn patch of land no bigger than 325 yards long and 125 yards wide and previous used as a parade field located on the upper portion of the island.
Reinforced by the 3d Battalion Combat Team of the 34th Infantry Regiment, 24th Division, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions of the 503d Parachute Regimental Combat Team, portions the 462d Parachute Artillery Battalion, and C Company of the 161st Airborne Engineer Battalion surprised their Japanese foe in one of the most daring, well-planned, and superbly executed airborne operations in the annals of US Military history. Fighting valiantly and engaging thousands of Japanese soldiers hidden around the island that refused to surrender The Rock Force repatriated the island on 2 March 1945. Of the thousands of Japanese soldiers defending the island, only 50 survived. The 503rd, however, lost 169 men killed and many more wounded or injured. For its gallantry The Rock Force was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for its actions on Corregidor.
This print is dedicated to all American Paratroopers then and now. Their courage and sacrifice demonstrate their commitment to freedom and American resolve.