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The difference between 'Fallen Angels' and 'Falling Angels' is astonishing!
By Henry H. Bucher, Jr., Faculty Emeritus in Humanities, Austin College
Feb 21, 2024
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There are many references to ‘Fallen Angels’ in biblical literature. The best known is Satan, who strived to have Jesus join him, but failed. In Jewish, Christian, and Muslim tradition, Fallen Angels were angels in heaven who rebelled against God.

'Falling Angels' was a name proudly assigned to the 11th Airborne Division* during World War Two. In several instances when this division successfully rescued victims by parachute in the South Pacific, the rescued said that men in parachutes at a distance in the sky appeared to resemble ‘angels’ – the parachute looking like wings!

Henry H. Bucher, Jr.
On February 23, 1945, in the early morning hours, my family and many others were rescued by the 11th Airborne and Filipino Scouts, the former having dropped from airplanes in sync with the guerilla Scouts on the ground. The Japanese had left their rifles in their quarters and were outside exercising.** Only later did we find out that the rescue had to be quickly executed since our camp in Los Banos*** was in Japanese-held territory and their forces were already on their way from Manila.

We internees were in no hurry and wanted to celebrate and ask questions. An English family had saved special teas to celebrate and had to leave their tea behind at the insistence of the US forces. In desperation the parachutists had to expedite our removal in waiting amphibian tanks by setting fire to our barracks and rushing us to a US post across the lagoon –a post also surrounded by Japanese forces but highly fortified.

Indeed, the 11th Airborne forces did look like ‘falling angels’ that February morning in 1945 (79 years ago). We learned later that our rescue is an important part of the curriculum in most military academies in the USA. It is studied specifically by special operations that emphasize planning, intelligence, stealth, speed, surprise, and local support.

The 11th Airborne Division Association said in their publication, Voice of the Angels, about the rescue at Los Banos, that it was a “triumph of integrating detailed new research …worthy of the men who delivered the real event to the pages of history…"

Today the headquarters of the 11th Airborne is in Alaska; and yes, they call themselves informally the 'Arctic Angels'!


*The 11th Airborne was a division of the AS Army: The US Airforce was formed after WWII.

**At least one Filipino Scout was employed by the Japanese in our internment camp. His/their information provided indispensable intelligence to the 11th Airborne.

 

**”The Baths” in Spanish derived from warm springs nearby at the base of Mount Makiling. Los Banos was, and still is, the site of the University of the Philippines.