37th Division in Manila
This remarkable print is taken from an original oil painting which was unveiled during the 117th General Conference of the National Guard Association of the United States which convened in Cleveland, Ohio, in September of 1995. The painting was commissioned by the Ohio National Guard to commemorate the role of the 37th Infantry Division in the liberation of Manila in March of 1945.
The 37th "Buckeye" Division was organized during World War I and fought in the Meuse-Argonne offensive as well as in Flanders, earning three campaign streamers (Meuse-Argonne, Lorraine 1918, and Ypres-Lys). During the postwar years, this National Guard Division remained a pure Ohio unit.
On 15 October 1940, the 37th was mobilized by President Roosevelt to train during the period of "emergency" brought on by the war in Europe. Within weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Division was alerted for possible deployment to Europe, but the orders were changed, and the Ohioans found themselves moving by train to San Francisco where they sailed in May of 1942 for the Fiji Islands. Their training continued until they were transported to Guadalcanal in April of 1943.
In July, 1943, the 129th Infantry Regiment from Illinois joined the Division as they began offensive operations in New Georgia, followed by Bougainville Island in November. On 9 January, the Division arrived at its moment in history, going ashore at Lingayen Gulf on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. They moved to the outskirts of Manila, and for the next month fought house-to-house to liberate the city. In freeing Bilibid Prison, they found members of the "Battling Bastards of Bataan," from the 200th Coast Artillery of the New Mexico National Guard, who earned the reputation as the first unit to fight in World War II.
On 3 March 1945, the 37th had liberated Manila and fulfilled the words of General Douglas MacArthur. The fighting had taken its toll on the city and one official stated, "Manila is dead!" The Buckeye Division continued its offensive into the Cagayan Valley of northern Luzon and rested only briefly before beginning preparations for the invasion of Japan. It was many a relieved Buckeye when the news of the Japanese surrender reached the Division and their families anxiously waiting at home.
The artist and publisher wish to express their gratitude to LTC Craig G. Nannos for his research and support of this painting. In addition, considerable thanks are due MG Richard Alexander, the Adjutant General of Ohio, Major Al Faber and CW4 (Ret.) Jerry Wilson of the Ohio National Guard Association who made this project a reality.