LIGHTNING RELEASES: Malibu. CA 90265 (7/9/2014) – Leon Cooper, a WWII veteran, was a Navy landing craft officer, landing assault troops on Japanese island strongholds. Of his six battles, one was the Liberation of the Philippines. Mr. Cooper is 94 years old. Knowing that he would risk his health and safety, he still decided to go to the Philippines with his directors, Steven Barber and Matthew Hausle, to film eHEhE “Return to the Philippines-the Leon Cooper Story,” the sequel to “Return to Tarawa-the Leon Cooper Story.” Both documentaries, two of a planned series, track the recovery of the remains of WWII men who died during battles in Europe and in the Pacific (80,000) who lie where they fell, in unmarked graves, and are listed as “missing-in-action.” (MIA). To date, more than a million have viewed the Tarawa film.
This new film will be even more dramatic, documenting as it does, the unparalleled savagery and cruelty of the Japanese, in their slaughter of more than a million Filipinos. The film also casts a new light on the major role played by the Filipino Scouts and other members of the Filipino militia, providing significant help to General MacArthur in his “Return.”
Of the 14,000 Americans killed during the Liberation, 7,000 still remain listed as MIA. Mr. Cooper wanted to find out why there were still so many, and what had been doing to recover the remains of these honored dead—under a recent agreement signed by our government and the Philippines government to investigate and recover these remains. For this, he needed the cooperation of both the Ambassador to the Philippines and JPAC, the organization in the Department of Defense set up to recover the remains of American war dead. Both knew that Mr. Cooper had taken part in the Liberation of the Philippines.
Upon his arrival in Manila, he was amazed to learn that both the JPAC representative in Manila and the Ambassador refused to meet him, to help track the recovery of the remains of the 7,000 MIAs. Of course, this was a personal insult to Mr. Cooper, but far worse, it shows utter indifference to the efforts by these honored dead to preserve America’s freedom, and contempt for their families seeking closure. e.
Before scheduling his trip to the Philippines, Mr. Cooper had asked his representatives in Congress, Senators Feinstein and Boxer and his Congressman Waxman, to contact the Ambassador on his behalf. They ignored his repeated requests. Undeterred by this strange, insensitive behavior by all concerned, Mr. Cooper and his directors were still able to accomplish much of what they had planned to film.
“Return to the Philippines—the Leon Cooper Story” will be ready for its premiere this coming Veterans Day, November 11.