“Texas A&M is writing its own military history in the blood of its graduates. Not only in the Philippines Campaign but on the active fronts of the southwest Pacific, Texans daily emblazon the record with outstanding feats of courage on land on the sea and in the air. No name stands out more brilliantly than the heroic defender of Corregidor, General George F. Moore. Whenever I see a Texas man in my command I have a feeling of confidence.” Gen. Douglas MacArthur, 15 September 1942
Corregidor Island at the southernmost tip of the Bataan peninsula was the final refuge held by the Americans in the Philippines. Corregidor, with its network of tunnels and formidable array of defensive armament, along with the fortifications across the entrance to Manila Bay, was the remaining obstacle to the 14th Japanese Imperial Army’s complete control of the Philippines. As long as the island remained in American hands, the Japanese would be denied the use of Manila Bay, the finest natural harbor in the Far East.
In March 1942, President Roosevelt ordered MacArthur to leave Corregidor because he did not want to run the risk of MacArthur being captured. Before he boarded the PT boat that would carry him to Australia, MacArthur instructed Major General George Moore to “keep the flag flying.” After escaping to Australia, MacArthur made his famous “I shall return” speech. Moore commanded the Philippine Coast Artillery which contained roughly 5,000 men and four forts in defense of Corregidor.
On 9 April lacking food, ammunition, and morale, American and Filipino troops in an upper section of the peninsula surrendered to the Japanese and the infamous Bataan Death March and its atrocities ensued. These events led to international recognition of the 1942 Aggie Muster on Corregidor. Knowing that Muster might soon be called for them, twenty-five Aggies led by George Moore ’08 following Texas A&M tradition, mustered on 21 April during the Japanese siege of the “Rock,” the name given to the island by its defenders. A war correspondent recorded the muster of the 25 Aggies gathered in the trenches while enemy artillery shells were exploding all around them. This report gave a tremendous boost to stateside morale, especially in the great state of Texas.
On 6 May 1942, General Jonathan Wainwright, who had assumed command of the Philippines campaign upon MacArthur’s departure, surrendered the Corregidor garrison at about 1:30 p.m. leading himself and General Moore to be captured by the Japanese. MacArthur “returned” to the Philippines on 20 October 1944.
Moore was held as a POW and was liberated in August 1945 at the end of the War. General Moore was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal while in captivity. Moore graduated from the A&M College of Texas (Texas A&M) in 1908 and died on 2 December 1949.
One of the most well known Musters was held after the war in 1946. Aggies who were present among the American armed forces on Corregidor once again held Muster on the island.
On 21 April 1946, General of the Army Douglas MacArthur sent a message from his office as Supreme Allied Commander for the Allied Forces to Aggies. It is quoted in its entire text below:
Sons of Texas A&M
On Corregidor – 21 April 1946
In this hallowed soil lie the mortal remains of many men who have died that liberty might live. Among the bravest of these brave are twenty officers, sons of Texas A&M, unable themselves to answer this year’s annual muster. It is for us, therefore, to do so for them — to answer for them in clear and firm voice — Dead on the battleswept Corregidor where their eternal spirit will never die but will march on forever, inspiring in those who follow the courage and the will to preserve well that for which they bled.
Of them and those of their fellow alumni who lie in hallowed soil of other lands and those who survive them, may it truly be said that in the noble teachings of their Alma Mater — in the tradition of the great American leader, Sam Houston, who this day, one hundred and ten years ago, wrested Texas from foreign dominion by defeating Santa Ana on the historic battlefield of San Jacinto – they stood steadfast, unyielding and unafraid through those dark days of our country’s gravest peril – and by inspiring example helped point the way.
Signed – Douglas MacArthur
Major Darrel E. Griffin ’44, USA (deceased), a long-time member of the New Orleans A&M Club, attended Muster on the Rock in 1946. Darrell is on the back row on the right side of the “S” on the banner that hangs in the famous photograph of the 150 Aggies who mustered at the entrance of Malinta Tunnel on Corregidor. In 1998, Mr. Griffin spoke at the annual New Orleans A&M Club Muster. During his address Mr. Griffin humbly spoke of his experiences at the 1946 Muster on Corregidor. Mr. Griffin concluded by expressing is hope that the Muster tradition would remain a unifying force for all Aggies.
Darrell was a native New Orleanian. He attended the 1940 Sugar Bowl between the 1939 National Champion Aggies and Tulane. He graduated from Alcee Fortier High School in 1940. After attending A&M for three years, his entire class was called into military service in 1943. He returned to Aggieland in 1947 and received a Bachelor of Science in Architecture in 1948. Upon graduation, Darrell returned to active duty and served in the Philippines, Japan, Korea, Germany, Alaska, and Texas. Darrell retired from the Army in 1964. After his military career, Darrell taught at Delgado Community College in New Orleans as a Professor of Architectural Engineering and also served as the Director of Facility Planning. Darrell’s volunteer efforts included the German Seaman’s Mission, the Japan Society and, of course, the New Orleans A&M Club where he directed many of the Ross Volunteer receptions held annually in conjunction with Mardi Gras. Darrell died on 20 March 2006 and was buried with military honors in the National Cemetery at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.