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With his parting words “I shall return,” General Douglas MacArthur sealed the fate of the last American forces on Bataan. Yet one young Army Captain named Russell Volckmann refused to surrender. He disappeared into the jungles of north Luzon where he raised a Filipino army of over 22,000 men. For the next three years he led a guerrilla war against the Japanese, killing over 50,000 enemy soldiers. At the same time he established radio contact with MacArthur’s HQ in Australia and directed Allied forces to key enemy positions. When General Yamashita finally surrendered, he made his initial overtures not to MacArthur, but to Volckmann.
This book establishes how Volckmann’s leadership was critical to the outcome of the war in the Philippines. His ability to synthesize the realities and potential of guerrilla warfare led to a campaign that rendered Yamashita’s forces incapable of repelling the Allied invasion. Had it not been for Volckmann, the Americans would have gone in “blind” during their counter-invasion, reducing their efforts to a trial-and-error campaign that would undoubtedly have cost more lives, materiel, and potentially stalled the pace of the entire Pacific War.
Second, this book establishes Volckmann as the progenitor of modern counterinsurgency doctrine and the true “Father” of Army Special Forces— a title that history has erroneously awarded to Colonel Aaron Bank of the ETO. In 1950, Volckmann wrote two Army field manuals: Operations Against Guerrilla Forces and Organization and Conduct of Guerrilla Warfare, though today few realize he was their author. Together, they became the Army’s first handbooks outlining the precepts for both special warfare and counter-guerrilla operations. Taking his argument directly to the Army Chief of Staff, Volckmann outlined the concept for Army Special Forces. At a time when U.S. military doctrine was conventional in outlook, he marketed the ideas of guerrilla warfare as a critical force multiplier for any future conflict, ultimately securing the establishment of the Army’s first special operations unit—the 10th Special Forces Group.
Volckmann himself remains a shadowy figure in modern military history, his name absent from every major biography on MacArthur, and in much of the Special Forces literature. Yet as modest, even secretive, as Volckmann was during his career, it is difficult to imagine a man whose heroic initiative had more impact on World War II. This long overdue book not only chronicles the dramatic military exploits of Russell Volckmann, but analyzes how his leadership paved the way for modern special warfare doctrine.
“In American Guerrilla, Mike Guardia, a young armor officer with a master’s degree in history . . . has based his work largely on Volckmann’s memoir and diary, the written and oral testimony of those who served with him, and official records in the archives. He has succeeded very largely in his mission. . . . Guardia calls him ‘the progenitor of modern counterinsurgency doctrine and the true father of Army Special forces.’ Volckmann . . . laid down the operational concepts for Army Special Forces and worked energetically to spread the doctrine. His efforts led to the establishment of the Army’s first special operations unit, the 10th Special Forces Group.”—
ARMY MAGAZINE, 2010-09-01
“…an interesting, thought provoking and well written read…”
“This is a book anyone wanting to learn more about the guerrilla warfare in the Philippines during World War II Japanese occupation should find interesting. For military history buffs and students of guerilla warfare, it’s a must read.”
GUN WEEK, 2010-11-01
“...fascinating and little known story…meticulously researched, with facts verified by exhaustive sleuthing…a fine work of investigative history…a fine study of the obscure origins of the US Army’s Special Forces.”
MILITARY WRITERS SOCIETY OF AMERICA , 2010-08-30
"This long overdue book not only chronicles the dramatic military exploits of Russell Volckmann, but analyzes how his leadership paved the way for modern special warfare doctrine"
SMALL WARS JOURNAL , 2010-05-01
"Sadly, historians of the Philippine campaign have largely ignored Volckmann, focusing instead on conventional forces under MacArthur. Fortunately for Mr. Guardia, a serving Army officer, Volckmann kept a rudimentary diary for much of the period, describing how he managed to put together his "private army," one that waged arguably the most successful guerrilla campaign of the entire war. . . . Mr. Guardia argues, convincingly, that Volckmann deserves the title of 'father' of Special Forces."
WASHINGTON TIMES , 2010-08-01
“Russell W. Volckmann is one of the extraordinary men you have probably never heard of…Using official archives and drawing on contemporary accounts and interviews with Volckmann’s family, Mike Guardia, a U.S. Army officer, uncovers the remarkable life and career of this most secretive of men…The revelations in this book is certain or at the very least should force a revision of our understanding of Douglas MacArthur and the Philippines campaign, as well as the evolution of post-war thinking.”
TUCSON CITIZEN , 2012-05-25
Also By This Author
American Guerrilla The Forgotten Heroics of Russell W. Volckmann—the Man Who Escaped from Bataan, Raised a Filipino Army against the Japanese, and became the True “Father” of Army Special Forces
With his parting words “I shall return,” General Douglas MacArthur sealed the fate of the last American forces on Bataan. Yet one young Army Captain named Russell Volckmann refused to surrender. He d...
Shadow Commander The Epic Story of Donald D. Blackburn—Guerrilla Leader and Special Forces Hero
The fires on Bataan burned on the evening of April 9, 1942 — illuminating the white flags of surrender against the nighttime sky. Woefully outnumbered, outgunned, and ill-equipped, battered remnants o...