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Technician Fifth Grade Joseph Edwards

Headquarters & Headquarters Troop, 5th Cavalry Regiment

Technician Fifth Grade Joseph F. Edwards, a native of Briscoe, Missouri, was far from home in 1945. Thousands of miles across the globe, he landed in the Philippines in the final push to Manila and the liberation of the Philipines. T/5 Edwards enlisted into the army on October 12th, 1944, and arrived in the 1st Cavalry Division's staging grounds in January of 1945. From now until the end of the war, T/5 Edwards participated in some of the most grueling and heroic fighting in the Pacific Theatre as well as help free the Santo Tomas Concentration Camp.

The 1st Cavalry landed in Lingayen Gulf on January 2nd, 1945, unloading their men and material rapidly. T/5 Edwards was one of the countless replacements sent to the division to replenish it from the Luzon campaign just finished. By the end of the month, the First Team was ready to advance, moving to an assembly area further inland. It was there that General of the Army Douglas MacArthur  took 1st Cavalry Division Commander Major General Mudge aside and gave him an order that would live on in history.

"Go to Manila," he ordered. "Go around the [Japanese], bounce off the [Japanese], but go to Manila.

Free the internees at Santo Tomas. Take Malacanan Palace and the Legislative building."

Click on a photo in this slideshow for a closer look or click on the arrows at the edges of the slideshow to look through the photos.

General Mudge acted swiftly on this command, getting his division ready for a hard ride south to Manila, just like the division did in the Punitive Expedition years ago.  The 5th Cavalry's 2nd Squadron led the "Flying Column" along a 100-mile long route that was not scouted ahead of time and with no solid information in hand on enemy troop numbers. At the stroke of midnight, February 1st, the Division moved out, making a crossing over the Pampanga River and capturing the Valefuente Bridge before Japanese sappers could demolish it. After this event, the division also moved past Cabanatuan, the site of the famed POW liberation conducted by the 6th Rangers and seen in the movie The Great Raid.

Driving down Highway Five, the 1st Cavalry blew through Japanese defenses, striking a dagger through Japanese lines to liberate the internees in Santo Tomas. Air support and reconnaissance were given by Marine Air Groups 24 and 32, angels to the cavalrymen in their mad dash to Manila. All along the route, Cavalrymen received gifts and thanks from the Filipinos, grateful for their liberation. Upon reaching Manila and being aided by two former Philippine Scouts, the Cavalry was in the final stretch to Santo Tomas. They wove down Quezon Boulevard in a tight column, weaving down the long street before finally arriving in the camp just before midnight. Almost 4,000 internees celebrated as American vehicles rolled into the campus, finally freed from the hell they were put through by the Japanese. 

T/5 Edwards followed close behind the Flying Column with the rest of the division, breaking Japanese resistance from the beachhead to Manila. On February 7th, the 5th Cavalry as a whole was relieved from Santo Tomas by the 37th Infantry Division as well as receiving General MacArthur for his gallant return to Manila. The regiment was reassigned to mopping up the southern suburbs of Manila, fully liberating the city. The next assault in the Philippines was the Shimbu Line, driving through a well-prepared defensive line within the Philippine mountains with supporting artillery. However, the men of the First Team succeeded in their goals, though with heavy casualties, in charging into Southern Luzon. In the final mop-up in Southern Luzon, on the drive to the town of Bicol, the 5th Cavalry Regiment linked up with the 158th "Bushmasters" Regimental Combat Team, driving the final nail into the Japanese coffin in the Philippines. By the end of the Luzon Campaign, the First Team had inflicted almost 15,000 Japanese killed and taken prisoner. Now, they sailed to Japan, taking up occupation duty in the nation they had fought so hard against during the war. 

On September 8th, 1945, the 1st Cavalry Division paraded into Tokyo, headed by Major General William Chase, commander of the division. Men of the division raised the Stars and Stripes over the American Embassy Building, the same flag that flew over the US Capitol during the Battle of Pearl Harbor as well as on the USS Missouri, which held the honor of receiving the Japanese surrender. The 5th Cavalry was housed in Camp McGill near Otawa, 20 miles south of Yokohama. During the early days of the occupation, the 5th Cavalry Division was primarily responsible for port security and management of returning POWs to and from Japan as well as mitigating potential epidemics. 

T/5 Edwards passed away on September 10, 1988 at the age of 62.



  • Boudreau, William. “WWII: Pacific.” 1st Cavalry Division History - WW II, Pacific 1941 - 1945, 1996, 

  • Smith, Robert Ross. United States Army in World War II: The War in the Pacific: Triumph in the Philippines. U.S. G.P.O., 1991. 

  • Wright, Bertram C. The 1st Cavalry Division in World War II. Toppan Printing Co., 1947.

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