After covering the Italian and French campaigns of 1944, Mydans was sent back to the Pacific that November. Although he photographed some of the Leyte campaign, he missed General MacArthur's famous return to the Philippines. On January 9, 1945, Mydans photographed MacArthur as he landed in Luzon. According to Mydans, MacArthur did not believe in posed pictures: No one I have ever known in public life had a better understanding of the drama and power of a picture.
When the time came, Mydans jumped out of the boat unto the pontoon walkway set up for MacArthur's arrival only to see the craft reverse its engines and back away. Mydans quickly ran across the beach and waited for the boat to come to him. Once the ramp dropped, he photographed MacArthur knee-deep in the water as he waded ashore, thus creating one of his most memorable shots. The image was taken just five hours after the first wave assault on the beach. Mydans was the only still photographer to accompany General MacArthur on the U.S.S. Boise, his command ship, during the invasion of Luzon. Many years after that landing, Mydans shared an intimate moment with MacArthur upon their return to Luzon. After standing on Lingayen Beach in front of a plaque commemorating the event, MacArthur walked over to Mydans and said, "This is the highlight of it all, isn't it? For you and me." (LIFE, July 14, 1961).