The Villa Verde Trail begins in the foothills near Santa Maria and spans 27 miles to an elevation of over 5,000' along ridge lines large enough for
only foot traffic or horses. It terminates near Santa
Fe at the junction with Highway 5 (Route 5) and the Cagayan
Valley. Named after a Spanish Missionary
who used this trail to preach Catholicism to the mountain people of northern Luzon.
Battle of Villa Verde Trail
After the American landing at Lingayen Gulf on January 9, 1945, Japanese
forces of the 'Shobu Group' defended this location, including 10th Recconssaiance Regimen and survivors of the 7th Tank Regiment from the battle of San Manuel.
The US Army 32nd Infantry Division's 127th Infantry Regiment advanced along
this trail beginning on January 30, 1945. The
rough terrain made it impossible for vehicles to support the battle, Igorot
laborers were employed to carry supplies and evacuate wounded.
By February 23,
they had reached the high ground. The Kongo Fortress, located four miles
north Imugan was reached in early March. The fortress was the site of a three
week battle that resulted in 1,000 Japanese KIA.
Area of steep slopes. Defenders of the 2nd Tank Division used eight removed turrets from their tanks as fixed pillboxes, fighting here until May 24th against American forces, loosing 2,300 from the 2nd Tank Division and 3,400 from other units.
On April 7th American fighters flew 130+ sorties in support of ground
forces at Solvec Cove, Villa Verde Trail.
The 127th Infantry Regiment was relieved
by the 128th Infantry Regiment, that fought on the trail until May 28th. The battle lasted 119 days, while outnumbered 2:1, and resulted in an estimated
8,900 Japanese KIAs.
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December 17, 2018