We were bound on a grim and grievous work
deemed right in light of war.
Surging up the Philippines
with a daily raid or more
Most we coursed from south to north,
at times we filled the sky,
But this day our guest was to the west
to the Island of Panay.
The archipelago lay below, made grand by tropic hand;
Green island masses -- large and least --
suspended in the sea, this land.
Borne by powered turbulence
we had nigh climbed three miles high;
And now we rolled across our goal,
the Island of Panay.
No mystery that one deed that day
but would scant history weave,
And the making of a memory
be the main thing we'd achieve.
So circling there in high thin air
we dared our foes defy,
And planned our play to have our way
with the Island of Panay.
Our's was a minor show of force,
the garrison was small.
Our task was simply to harass
their only port of call;
To cripple any shipping
and break lines of supply --
And so to Ilo Ilo,
the harbor of Panay.
We bombers formed like migrant birds,
our fighters overhead.
As the fighter wove we bombers dove --
fanned into deadly spread.
We plummeted like flight or kytes --
straight down did we fly;
To better loose our missiles
on the moorings at Panay.
The Ilo Ilo layout was modest in its way,
Where a long and slender warehouse
crowned a slim and lengthy quay.
Eros and red upon its roof
a spot close claimed the eye;
So I took the same as point of aim
on the warehouse at Panay.
As down we barged the spot grew large
and assumed more shape, of course.
I was aghast that 'midst our blasts
was "The Sign of the Flying Red Horse."
This well-known image gave me pause --
I was tempted to pull out high,
For it seemed like dropping bombs at home
instead of on Panay.
Today when by the road I see
"The Sign of the Flying Red Horse"
I remember that logo on Ilo Ilo,
and think of my halting remorse.
That was then and now is now --
five decades since gone by --
But still I'm bent on the minutes spent
when once we bombed Panay.
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