When the 1,400 POW names were posted in the Camp O’Donnell BB last Jul. 16, it was announced that they are comparatively the healthy survivors remaining in Capas. The sick started being released last June 30. This healthy group are now about to complete Rejuvenation Training in Camp Dau. Let me talk about this group as every passing day I came to know many of them for the first time…
When we first assembled at Capas Main Gate to leave for Camp Dau last Jul. 17, everyone was on his feet marching with their bags but did not look as strong as our Malolos POW Group. As the facilities and food at Dau was better than Capas, we all improved physically. There were no deaths in Dau.
Our group represented a cross section of surviving USAFEE soldiery, all ages, cultures, military education, experiences, etc. From among senior PCA grads are Cols. Claro Lizardo ’15; Tomas Domaoal ’17; Manuel Turingan ’17; Lamberto Javalera ’18: Leoncio Tan ’28; Jesus Vargas ’29 to contemporaries like Pelagio Cruz, Done Ojeda, P. Q. Molina. Early pioneers of ROSS like Alfredo Santos, S. Villa, C. Barbero, L. Villareal; Friedlander; fellow alumni of PMA Cl ’40; 41; 42 & 43; and the unforgettable young group of Ateneo ROTC volunteers like Sgts Fred X. Burgos, Ramon Pamintuan and Bagatsing under Capt. E. G. Lara of Angono, Rizal. From Baban of the Ibaloi tribe to Sulu’s Pulong Arpa. Then we have this Maj. E. Batongmalaque ’31 whose tales of experiences in Mindanao seem endless specially about his weirdo CO, the legendary Lt. Canuto better known as King Canuto.
I was also able to have an idea of the intellectual capabilities of each group. Early PCA grads had the equivalent of high school education with knowledge of criminal procedures and law to bring cases before the court. They were basically police officers but are very proficient in verbal and written communication. Those with baccalaureate degrees like from PMA or ROSS have better intellectual capacities to analyze problem situations. It is here I understood what Gen. Vicente Lim once said, “I will only be happy when the Chief of Staff is a PMA graduate.”
Nevertheless, I am very proud to be a part of this roll of USAFFE officers’ — all tough survivors from the crucible of Bataan, Death March and POW Camp O’Donnell.
Our morale remains high and our Camaraderie is much stronger. We can only hope and pray for happy future.
6:30 a.m. left Corregidor for Bataan on a Q boat. The sea was very rough and it could not make any speed.
I arrived at 7:30 a.m. at Cabcaben. Colonel Hill and General de Jesus were waiting for me. I gave some instructions to General de Jesus and then left with Colonel Hill in a command car for the Command Post of General Lough. It was a hard trip through newly constructed trails in the mountains. The dust was terrible. We reached a place in the mountain where the trail ended. Then we had to hike up-hill. We reached the Command Post of General Lough at 10:45 a.m. There I met General Lough and his staff, General Lim and his aide, Lieutenant Santos, General Capinpin, Captain Angel Tuason. I had a letter for Bubby Tuason from Loling, that had been smuggled out of Manila by someone. As soon as he received the note he began to cry. I patted him on the shoulder and told him to cheer up. I talked to General Capinpin and General Lim regarding the morale of the officers and men. At 11 a.m. while I was talking to them we heard the roar of airplane engines. I was told that there were 12 bombers and four pursuits. They encircled around again and again. They flew so low that we could distinctly hear the characteristic whistle that the bombers have. General Lough ordered that everyone stand near the entrance of the dug outs. Suddenly we heard the explosions caused by the bombs dropped towards our left probably some artillery placements. At 11:30 p.m. when we realized that the danger had passed we hiked back to our car and proceeded to the Command Post of Colonel Catalin Commanding Officer of 21st F.A. He was waiting for me on the road together with Major Villarreal and Lieutenant Aquino.
He showed me his post. I inspected his Command Post and discussed with him the phases of military situation and the morale of the officers and men.
Left his Command Post for the offshore patrol base at Lamao. Major Villarreal offered to go with me to show me the new place, as Captain Jurado, had transferred his Post to another place, as his former place had been bombed by enemy planes.
When I arrived there I found Lee Stevens waiting for me. He is a captain Q.M.C. USAFFE. We talked for a while and ate a luncheon prepared impromptu by Captain Jurado. He served Carabao meat. It was not bad. Before I left Lee gave me a letter to be opened only in case of his death. Lee is the Commanding Officer of a motor pool. His place was recently bombed.
From this place I rushed to the Philippine Army Hospital at Km. 172 to inspect. The conditions not as good as I would like them to be. The ward tents are dark and give the impression of poor ventilation. The general arrangement is poor. I instructed Colonel Luna to discuss the matter with Colonel Janairo, Chief enginner.
I left the Philippine Army hospital with Colonel Hill & Major Cruz for the Command Post of General Marshall. Washed up and had dinner with him. Proceeded afterwards to Cabcaben to take the Q boat which was waiting to take me to the rock. Colonel Browley of the Staff of General Moore asked to be allowed to come with me. I was happy to authorize him to do so.
On the way from General Marshall’s Command Post to Cabcaben, Colonel Browley told me that he had just inspected Anti-Aircraft batteries in Mariveles and praised the Philippine Army unit. He said that the two outstanding batteries or Anti-Aircraft units there was one American (Colonel National Guard) and one Philippine Army composed of our trainees from Fort Windt 90% and Scout Filipino N.C.O. 10%. The American unit has 14 planes to its credit; the Philippine Army unit 12 planes. The previous day two Japanese planes who were apparently on a bombing mission to Mariveles make a dive to attack our unit. Our boys received them with a heavy barrage and brought the two planes down with only 40 rounds of ammunition consumed.
When we arrived at Cabcaben, the sea was very rough, and the Captain of the Q boat had difficulty in docking it. Finally he was successful. We arrived at Corregidor at 6:30 p.m. I saw the President to report my trip and then went home for supper.
Our training during the past week on the 1st Q-Boat Squadron was hectic and very extensive. Torpedo firing exercises were conducted under the watchful eyes of our torpedo mentor William Mooney. I really do not know how I fared during my turn during those exercises. I know I scored several hits. Manila newspapers today says the German advance smash near Leningrad but the Soviets claimed the Nazi column crushed. London BBC Broadcast to Europe encourages resistance against the Nazi under the slogan “V for Victory.” Meanwhile, it was reported French Vichy gov’t yields military bases to the Japanese in Indo-China to prevent the British from gaining complete control of the area which consisted of Vietnam, Cambodia and Burma.
My Mistah, Maning Acosta reported to me the feverish training activities of the FA in Camp Dau. The early pioneers of the FA were trained at the FA School at Ft. Stotsenburg under Lt Col Ralph Hirsh, USA FA, a product of the FA School, Ft Sills, OK. Some of the early pioneers were Jesus Vargas, Alfonso Arellano, Luis Villareal, Zoilo Perez, Felipe Pilapil, Francisco Adriano, Simplicio Rivera and my seven classmates. Later an FA School was established in Camp Dau. I have touched on the early pioneers of PAAC, OSP, INF, CAC,QM, SigC and now the FA.
The Med Corps was pioneered by Maj. Joseph Weaver USA MC, thence Victoriano Luna, Diño, Roman Salacup, Hospicio Solidum. Early DCs were Fernandez and Hawkins (forgot their first names). JAGO were Fred Ruiz Castro, Delfin Jaranilla, Luis Torres, Sixto Carlos. The AGS were Federico Oboza and Luis Florentin. Let me touch on the other branches of the PA as I recall them. The early pioneer of the CE was a certain Maj Torres from the USA CE, thence Antonio P. Chanco, Rigoberto Atienza, Pollard, Clemente Guerero, Benjamin Mata, Ramon Olbes, Licurgo Estrada, Washington Sagun, Cipriano de Leon, Reynaldo Bocalbos.
Today’s front page news says Germany and Italy announced plans to divide Yugoslavia and Croatia to be independent. FDR announced the appointment of William Donovan to head the newly formed Civil Intelligence Agency (CIA). Britain and USSR pledge mutual aid for war effort. And William Holden married today, in Las Vegas, Brenda Marshall. I remember Brenda as a young student at Brent School across Leonard Wood Drive from our White Hall Barracks. Lt Luis Villareal, then Jr. aide to Pres. Quezon introduced me to her during a social at Quezon’s home at Legarda Road summer of 1937. She attended our Sunday evening parade twice at Teachers Camp same year. Now she is a famous Hollywood star. Sayang!
My Mistah Rey Mendoza of CAC, Ft. Wint reported to me how busy they are with their training in Grande Island. CAC was built on solid foundation by its pioneer, US Army Maj Marquart who taught early PA officers like Lts. Silvino de Goma, Carlos Gatmaitan, Jose Fernandez, Jose Cardenas, Fidel Llamas and my seven classmates Caballero, Joe Mendoza, Job T. Mayo, Conrado Nano, Francisco Lumen and Ricardo Foronda. I remember Maj. Marquart as the Ft Wint Comdr. during our first class trip when we fired the CAC guns with disappearing carriage. CAC Training was also available at Ft Mills in Corregidor.
Today’s Manila News says Finland declared War on USSR. And Louis Chevrolet, builder of my favorite car, died at age 63, but I am still very much in love with that Chevy Apple Green Coupie. Let me continue to pay tribute by mentioning those early military pioneers. The PC being the core of our new PA, PCA Alumni are the primary source and its roster from 1907 to 1935 only totals 508 which means there were only about 400 to select from. Maj Porfirio Zablan and Lt Pelagio Cruz of the PAAC came from this pool. Other sources are the Phil Scouts (PS) and US Army’s Phil Depmt (USA) at Ft McKinley. My friend, Lt Luis Villareal, former Jr Aide to the Pres, informed me that Quezon was personally involved in the selection of these pioneers. He first selected Gen Vicente Lim USMA ’14 to be the G-1 of C/S Paulino Santos.
Early PS recruits were Cols Fidel Segundo for UP; Pastor Martelino, Capts Rufo Romero and Emmanuel Cepeda for PMA. These PS Os were promoted one rank higher which was termed assimilated ranks. Maj. Paciano Tangco who had an aptitude for radio communication was picked by Quezon to pioneer the Signal Corps. He was assisted by Capt Lasseter Mason USA SigC. Then came the UP group headed by Lt Francisco Licuanan & Manuel Quiogue; thence by Manuel Syquio, Amos Francia and Jose Rodriguez from PMA. They built a great Branch of Service.
I remember Miss Rosky Santos, beautiful daughter of C/S Gen Santos who used to attend our Yearling summer hops as a drag of Cav Pedro Francisco. I wonder where she is now.
Japanese military adventurism emboldened by their treaty with Germany and Italy continues unabated in Indo-China. Finally, today there is a reaction from USA. News report states that US Defense Oil Coordinator Harold I Ickes stopped the shipment of 252,000 gallons lubricating oil from the Jap tanker, Azuma Maru loading in Philadelphia. There was strong protest to no avail. To my young mind, this is a good sign because while US Pres Roosevelt has an aggressive attitude, American public opinion is against involvement in the war going on in Europe since Sept. 9, 1939 when I was still a lst Classman at PMA and the military analyst for “The Corps.” Majority are isolationist and even think the Japanese are incapable of waging war citing the flimsy toys they manufactured.
And now, let me say something about another “Magnificent Seven” classmates who joined the Field Artillery (FA). One of the branches of the service of our young PA is the FA initially organized in Camp Dau (near Mabalacat) Pampanga in late 1936 pioneered by Capt Jesus Vargas, 29, Lt Luis Villareal ’32 and ’36 graduates of ROSS like Lts Zoilo Perez, Felipe Pilapil followed by Lts Francisco Adriano ’37 and Simplicio Rivera ’37. It was a huge Camp later named Camp del Pilar where a Reserve Officers School and Artillery trainees are trained. I have visited the place on invitation of my Mistah Manuel Acosta to attend a fiesta in Mabalacat.
My seven classmates in the FA are: Lt Manuel Acosta, ExO Hq & Hq Btr, 141st FA under Lt Francisco Adriano ’37; Lt Basilio Genson, Instrtr, SRC & FA Trng School; Lt Eulalio Jamilosa, Instrtr, FA Trng Cadre & Os School; Fancisco Jimenez, Btr Comdr, Btr “A”; Lt Gregorio Mercado, 1″ Bn, 51st FA Regmt; Lt Leon Trinidad, together with Lt Gepte (USMA ’40) are assigned with FA Units in Tagaytay; and Segundo Velasco, ExO,Btr C 140th FA Prov Bn. FA is a very vital branch in the PA and Lt Velasco reported to me the very intensive training they are conducting to produce FA Res Os and Trainees for our citizen army expected to be about 400,000 strong in 1946 when we become an independent nation.
It may be pertinent to mention that at present Capt Jesus Vargas ’29 is the Commanding O, FA Training Center with Lt Luis Villareal as his Operations O (S-3). I think this magnificent FA Camp is the first military establishment to honor our Bulakenio hero, Gen Gregorio del Pilar.