On the 28th of November 1943, Lt General Walter Krueger formed one of the most feared and successful special operation units of American warfare history on Fergusson Island, New Guinea. Krueger named his new unit the Alamo Scouts in honor of his beloved San Antonio, Texas and formed the unit under his personal command.
Krueger envisioned a small task force of highly trained and motivated volunteers that would operate deep behind enemy lines performing intelligence gathering and tactical reconnaissance in advance of Sixth Army landing operations in the southwest pacific theater. From their first mission on the Admiralty Islands in February 1944 until the end of the war in the pacific the Alamo Scouts would engage in 106 known missions behind enemy lines, without losing a single man. Although they were not initially organized as a prisoner rescue operation, during their nearly two years of operation they liberated 197 allied prisoners and captured 84 Japanese POWs.
In January 1945, the Alamo scouts provided forward reconnaissance and tactical support to the 6th Ranger group in a mission that required them to walk thirty miles through the jungle of northern Manila to a place called Camp Cabanatuan. The combined force broke into the camp and fought there way out with 511 allied POWs, moved there as part of the Bataan death march. They then escorted the prisoners back thirty miles through hostile and dense jungle before meeting up with trucks that would take then the rest of the way.
In July 1945 the Alamo Scouts were preparing to conduct pre-invasion reconnaissance on Kyushu in preparation for the allied invasion of mainland Japan, codenamed Operation Olympic. When the Japanese surrendered on the deck of the USS Missouri in September of 1945, the invasion was cancelled and the Alamo Scouts landed in Wakayama and joined with the occupation forces.
Two months later in November of 1945, the role of the Alamo Scouts in the war was obsolete. With hostilities halted there was no longer any enemy line or a need for information from behind it. At the request of General Krueger, the Alamo Scouts were disbanded, without ceremony, and all records of their exploits sealed and classified as Top Secret.
The records were filed away and the soldiers prevented from talking about their exploits. For forty years little was known about the Alamo Scouts. Second hand stories from veterans and the according mythology that any special operations group receives, were all we had to mark the achievements of the Alamo Scouts. The records remained sealed and literally lost in the archives until 1986 when a clerk discovered them in an old, forgotten cabinet. The records were quickly declassified and in 1988 the surviving members of the Alamo Scouts were awarded the Special Forces tab at a ceremony held at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center.
Never numbering more than 70 volunteers, the Alamo Scouts earned 44 Silver Stars, 33 Bronze Stars and four Soldier's Medals by the end of the war and held one of the most successful operational records in the history of American warfare. Their contributions paved the way and set the standard of operations and training that would later lead to the formation of the Us Army Special Forces.
Major sources of information:
Steve Otto Tampa Tribune,
Histories Mysteries, The History Channel