Loyalty First: The Life and Times of Charles A. Willoughby, MacArthur’s Chief Intelligence Officer (Excerpt)

From Loyalty First:, by David A. Foy, Casemate Publishers, 2023. p. 17.

On one notable occasion, Willoughby was dispatched on a mission of critical importance to MacArthur, one which directly involved Quezon. In February 1942, MacArthur learned President Roosevelt would be making a radio speech telling of the thousands of aircraft on their way to war … in Europe. MacArthur correctly assumed that not only would Quezon hear the news but that he would be incensed when he heard the reporting. He thus dispatched Colonel Willoughby to go to Quezon and somehow placate him. When Willoughby walked to the Filipino president’s tent, located on a slope near the Malinta Tunnel on Corregidor, Willoughby found him in his wheelchair, angrily listening to Roosevelt’s speech. At the end of his speech, Quezon unleased a Spanish-language tirade at Willoughby, which translated to:

For thirty years I have worked and hoped for my people. Now they burn and die for a flag that could not protect them. I cannot stand this constant reference to Europe. I am here and my people are here under the heels of a conqueror. Where are the planes that they boast of? America writhes in anguish at the fate of a distant cousin, Europe, while a daughter, the Philippines, is being raped in the backroom.

Willoughby calmed the exasperated Quezon down until he could meet with MacArthur later that day…

Author: David A. Foy
historian and intelligence officer.

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