Image size: 1600 x 1232 pixel. 438 KB
Date: Saturday, 21 October 1944
Place: Dulag, Leyte, Philippines
Photographer: Carl Mydans
US Army General Douglas MacArthur restages his landing from an LVCP on Leyte, Philippine Islands, for the press on White Beach in the 1st Calvary Division sector. At left is Lieutenant General Richard K. Sutherland, MacArthur's chief of staff, and directly behind MacArthur, in glasses, is Colonel Lloyd Lehrbas, the general's aide. LST-740 and LST-814 are behind him. He originally landed on October 20, 1944, under marginal enemy fire on Red Beach in the 24th Infantry Division sector. Both the Japanese and the Americans were shocked to see him wade ashore on A-Day, the first day of the invasion. The Japanese taunted him verbally and opened fire with a Nambu machine gun, but he was not hurt and reportedly did not duck. Philippine President in exile, Sergio Osmena, accompanied the first landing. The Higgins Boat (LCVP) ran aground, and the party had to walk to shore. MacArthur was upset that his carefully prepared uniform was wet, but the shot was iconic. This view, taken the next day for newsreel cameras, was made on a shallower beach, with less tide. 1st Calvary Division soldiers who saw the photo of the first landing questioned its authenticity, and the controversy over the staged landings began. The picture was not posed but it was actually taken three months later, at a different beach than that of the original landing side at Leyte. LIFE photographer Carl Mydans was on the landing craft with MacArthur, and he rushed ashore on the pontoons army engineers put out so that MacArthur would not get his feet wet. But then he saw MacArthur’s landing craft turn away parallel to the shore. Mydans ran along the sand until the craft headed inwards, and as he had expected: “I was standing in my dry shoes waiting.” His photograph showed MacArthur sloshing towards the camera in his open-necked uniform and signature dark glasses, accompanied by staff officers and helmeted troops.