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Letters from alumni about Brooke Stoddard ’37

June 28, 2001

My father, Brooke Stoddard ’37, rowed varsity heavyweight crew for three years. Once graduated, he soon joined the army, war clouds then arising. He was in the cavalry because he liked to play polo, but alas the cavalry was in the process of surrendering their horses for tanks.

Once war broke out, he had various assignments around the U.S., but, being a large and athletic man, superiors soon noted a skill for combat and had him trained as a commando. In 1944 the army had an assignment for him: secretly land with one other American officer by submarine on the island of Luzon, Philippines, before the U.S. invasion to work with Filipino guerillas at sabotage and intelligence-gathering.

My father met with General MacArthur in New Guinea in order to coordinate how radio transmissions and other intelligence gathered from behind the lines would be sent to MacArthur's headquarters. Then he as a young lieutenant along with one captain set out by submarine to Luzon.

For four months and through many adventures they worked with Marking's Guerillas in the hills and mountains outside Manila, blowing up bridges, otherwise harassing the Japanese and sending intelligence back to MacArthur.

Once the Americans landed in January 1945 the Japanese had to retreat back into the hills, and this, my father always said, was when affairs heated up even more. But by March and with the Americans in Manila, my father was ordered to work his way through the Japanese lines. Sick with beriberi, malaria, and hepatitis he did so in a dugout boat paddled by Filipinos across the large lake called Laguna de Bay.

Having traversed the Japanese lines, he reported to the 1st Cavalry Division in Manila. He presented his papers to the first officer he could and saluted. The young man looked at my father's papers.

"Brooke Stoddard," the young officer said to himself. "Brooke Stoddard. You went to Princeton University." "Yes," my father said. "That's right. Brooke Stoddard, Class of 1937." The other officer looked up. "I thought so," he said. "Bob Goheen, Class of 1940."

End note: My father won two Bronze Stars for his service in combat, returned to civilian life after the war, was called up for the Korean War but served only in this country, returned again to civilian life to raise a family and ended his army career as a lt. colonel in the Reserves. He died of cancer at age 51 in 1965.

Brooke C. Stoddard ’69
Alexandria, Va.

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