EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A World War II hero from West Michigan is sharing his story about the life-saving role he played in one of the most successful military operations in U.S. history, which earned him the Silver Star.
Frank Krhovsky of Ionia was 19 in early 1945. A paratrooper with the 11th Airborne, he would embark on a bold rescue mission.
"There was a prison camp south of Manila about 50 miles, and the name of it was Los Banos. The Japanese were going to kill all of the prisoners very soon," recalled Krhovsky.
With the lives of over 2,000 allied detainees at stake, the generals drew up a risky plan to attack Los Banos by land and by air. The odds of success were so low, a priest administered last rites before the troops flew out.
"They expected over half of us would be killed," remembered Krhovsky.
At dawn from an airbase south of Manila, Frank and the other members of the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment jumped at low altitude, dropping fast into an armed garrison. It was over in 30 minutes.
"You don't have time to be afraid. It happened so fast. A big number of us jumped in with Tommy guns. I went in with 200 rounds of ammo and wound up with 60," said Krhovsky. "We never lost a man and we never lost a prisoner."
The raid on Los Banos would go down as the textbook airborne operation, still used as an example today.
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