The Return of General MacArthur, Leyte, 1944MacArthur’s victories in the central and southwest Pacific placed him within striking distance of the Philippines in early 1941. During the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944, the Americans destroyed Japan’s reinforcements for the Marianas Islands. This was a costly defeat for the Japanese as it left their forces in the Philippines isolated.MacArthur’s impending return was signaled by the 21 September bombing of Japanese installations around Manila by carrier-based aircraft from Admiral William Halsey’s Third Fleet. Similar bombing raids were mounted in the Visayas. The American air strikes revealed the weakness of Japanese defenses in the Visayas, leading Halsey and MacArthur to conclude that Leyte, and not Mindanao, should be the site of their initial landings. The U.S. invasion force steaming toward Leyte stretched for a hundred miles across the sea, the vast array of ships looking from a distance like black spots on a silver sheet. MacArthur’s entourage aboard the cruiser Nashville included Osmeña, now President of the Philippine Commonwealth after Quezon’s death in upstate New York in August.On 20 October 1949 at about 10:00 AM, General MacArthur, together with President Osmeña, General Basilio Valdes, and Resident Commissioner Carlos P. Romulo, waded ashore. Over a Signal Corps microphone Osmeña addressed the Filipino people, notifying them of the return of legitimate government.Even peasant fighters in the Communist-led Hukbalahap welcomed MacArthur’s return.