Mission of the Honor Guard and the Association
The mission stated in the General’s order for the formation of the Honor Guard Company, for providing local security for the Commander-in-Chief and General Headquarters, was succinct and appropriate. In Manila the company guarded Casa Blanca, the General’s residence, GHQ, and other selected sites.
When the company arrived in Tokyo it was split into two units: one assigned to duty and garrisoned at the American Embassy, residence for the General, his family and some staff, and the other garrisoned at the Ministry of Finance Building who were assigned to duty at the GHQ Dai Ichi Building. In the early months the company was also temporarily assigned as security for other military billets.
In the early years of the Association, there was a strong interest in getting together at bi-annual reunions. It was for the obvious fun and camaraderie of old buddies without any explicit expression of a mission or higher purpose for the organization. Though all members have the greatest respect for Gen. MacArthur, there was no organized effort by members to promote his legacy. In 1991 at the Indianapolis reunion, David Valley proposed the association endorse an effort to create a memorial to the General in Japan. Valley, who had lived in Japan for many years in recent times, reported there was no such monument there despite the General’s great contributions to that country. The membership encouraged Valley, but he was unable to get the needed financial and political support in Japan for the project.
Unknown to the Association, there was one particular Japanese citizen who was deeply committed to honoring Gen. MacArthur. Businessman, Kenkichi Takahashi of Kanagawa, commissioned and donated a large statue of General MacArthur as the centerpiece for MacArthur Garden, a small park area at Atsugi Airbase, Atsugi, Japan. This was an especially appropriate spot since it was there that General MacArthur landed to commence the Occupation in 1945. It is also likely, since the U.S. had some control of the facility, that political hurdles were dodged.
Takahashi’s outstanding generosity and success inspired Valley and others to plan a commemorative trip to Japan for the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the General’s departure. Thirty-seven former honor guards, family members, and other interested parties were at the MacArthur Garden, Atsugi, Japan on April 16, 2001 for a tribute to the General. Unfortunately, Takahashi died just a few months before. His widow accepted a Gen. MacArthur Legacy Award from the association at a formal ceremony held a few days later in Tokyo.
Prior to the Japan Commemoration, the group adopted the slogan, “We Shall Remember.” The slogan was proposed by Valley at the Philadelphia meeting and approved as the official Honor Guard Slogan. The Japan trip stimulated other ideas, which have contributed to the mission and heritage of the Association: the Legacy Award and the Honor Guard flag (contributed by Maurice Howe and Bob Johnson). Legacy Awards were also given in Japan to the Dai Ichi Life Insurance Company, which has maintained Gen. MacArthur’s office as a national monument, and to Prof. Tohru Kobayashi and his wife Yoko who helped make the commemorative trip a great success.
In 2002, Honor Guard members Valley, Bud Hoffman, and Lee Clifton, along with their families and other associate members made an excursion to the Philippines. The Association dedicated a memorial marker at kilometer 19 on the Bataan Death March Trail and made presentations of Legacy Awards to the Corregidor Foundation, which maintains the entire island as a war memorial, and to the Manila Hotel for its General MacArthur Suite and preservation of the General’s extensive history at the hotel and in the Philippines.
The activities cited above demonstrate the new mission of the Gen. MacArthur Honor Guard Association, which can be stated as:
Preserving and Enhancing the Legacy of General Douglas MacArthur and All Military Who Served in the WW II and Korean War Era.
**This material appeared in a newsletter but it bears repeating – it’s good to review why we are proud to have been members of the Honor Guard