Defenders of the Philippines

picture of captivity and picture of release from captivity

James W. Carrington



James Carrington, son of Leon Ewing Harrington and Genevieve Feely, left high school in 1939 to become a Marine. He was 21 years old when Corregidor surrendered on May 6, 1942. James was a Cajun from Lakeview behind city park in New Orleans, in the Louisiana swampland. He used his rural upbringing to his advantage when he became a POW. While at Bilibid Prison, Carrington successfully made cheese by taking two cans of spoiled milk and pouring it into his shirt, which he then squeezed and left to dry in the sun.

Carrington also spent time at Palawan and at Neilson Field before being transferred back to Bilibid. By this time he was suffering from dysentery and malaria. While part of a working party, Carrington befriended a civilian prospector by the name of Goldsborough, who was awaiting execution. Carrington risked his life to pass notes between Goldsborough and his wife, a Filipino woman. In return, she promised to help Carrington and a fellow prisoner, Corporal Ray Parker, escape.

On April 14, 1944, while the prisoners were preparing to watch an American movie, Carrington slipped under the electric fence. Parker, however, touched the wire while trying to slide underneath, thereby alerting the Japanese guards. Carrington made a run for it and headed toward Manila, where a group of young Filipinos, including an eleven-year-old boy named Gonzalez, smuggled him out in a cart by hiding him under the hay. The Filipinos put him in touch with local guerrillas, and Carrington spent the next year with the East Central Luzon Area guerrillas. He was one of only two Americans in the group, and he was the only Marine on Luzon. He served as Commandant, Headquarters and Security Forces for his unit.

Carrington and five of the men in his unit held back four attacks on the unit's radio station and headquarters in a period of eight days, and Carrington went behind enemy lines to rescue those who were ill or wounded and to reclaim two machine guns.

In 1945, Carrington walked to the Marine Aircraft Group-32 commanding officer's tent after hearing that other Marines had come to the island. He wanted to go home to the United States, but he had to wait for permission to join the unit. Finally he was permitted to fly to the nearest air base, from which he hitchhiked aboard various military aircraft until he eventually made it to California.

Three years later, in 1948, Carrington, now a lieutenant, was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross for his work with the guerrilla forces. He remained in the Marine Corps Reserve until retiring in 1958.

During Thanksgiving week in 2008, Carrington received a visit from Gonzalez, who had helped him to escape more than sixty years earlier. Eleven days later, on December 7, 2008, Carrington died at the Destrehan nursing home at the age of 88.

Distinguished Service Cross presented to James Carrington on October 4, 1948