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.
Front page news today says FDR pledges all possible support to USSR under German attack on wide front since June 21. Also, Wilhelm II, German ex-Kaiser died, age 82. British RAF fighters shot down 26 Nazi planes showing German air superiority over England is waning with the help of their radar system.
I commented previously on the leadership and administration of our military establishment, the Commonwealth Phil Army. Currently, I consider the leadership and administration under Gen Basilio J Valdes MC comparatively stable and normal with Gen. Vicente Lim as his G-3 and the different services manned by technically trained leaders.
To appreciate how we arrived at this stage, let me mention those early pioneers aside from Quezon’s military advisors (MacArthur, Eisenhower, Ord and Huff) who did the early work. Maj Gen Paulino Santos was appointed as first Chief of Staff from 1936 to 1939 with Gen Vicente Lim as his G-1. The PC with Hq at Oriente Bldg was made the nucleus of the PA. PCA graduates like Maj Porfirio Zablan ’15 with flying aptitude was recruited by Lim to pioneer the PAAC together with Maj Lee and Lt Jose Francisco USNA ’32. Then came Lts Pelagio Cruz, P Q Molina, Jesus Villamor Grp and the 17 members of Class ’40 which made PAAC at present a solid organization in personnel. I remember Miss Aurora Zablan, Maj Zablan’s daughter, a drag of my Mistah Romeo Lising during our summer socials. I wonder where she is now? Cav Lising was a casualty of WWII.
Despite Hitler’s nightly air raid, Churchill’s England keeps fighting back. Their radar system are a great help. The PA’s two elite branches, the OSP and PA Air Corps (PAAC) are busy with their training programs. Because they are located in Manila area our classmates easily maintained contact and found ethos sympathetic to our PMA experience. I became a sort of message center being stationed in Port Area and residing in Manila, among my classmates from the different PA branches far and wide.
My classmate who kept me abreast of the goings on at PAAC is Cav Alberto “Kabayan” Aranzaso, a close chum at PMA. PAAC Hq is located at what was popularly known as Nichols Field but their specific base is called Zablan Field (now Villamor AB) named after an early pioneer, Maj Porfirio Zablan PCA ’15, who died in a plane crash. Out of the 32 class ’40 that tried out, 17 finally got their wings. Tomas Tirona was the first to solo flight while Nolasco Escobar with his instructor Maniquis, crashed, killing Maniquis and an Air Field was named after him. Escobar survived and got his wings.
To date, my 17 PAAC classmates are assigned to various post participating in rigorous training. Alberto Acena and Pedro Baban are with the 9th Obsvn Sqdn in Cebu; Mariano Punzalang, Pedro Bartolome, Crisosostomo Monta, and Damian Pavon are with the 7th Adv Trng Sqdn Maniquis Field, Cabanatuan, as flight instructors: Bartolome Cabangbang, Alberto Aranzaso, Urbano Caldoza, Horacio Farolan, and Pedro Aragon are with the 6th Pursuit Sqdn under 1st Lt Jesus Villamor; Tomas Tirona was appointed Comdt PAAC Basic Flying School with Lauro Ello, Nolasco Escobar, Victor Osias, and Epifanio Segovia as Flight Instructors.
After getting his wings and qualifying as an air pilot, Francisco Vitug, crashed his plane, survived but lost an eye. He transferred branch of service to Finance Service (FS). PAAC is proud of the fact that then Maj. Dwight Eisenhower while on the staff of MacArthur and helped establish PMA, learned to fly and earned his wings under the of PAAC, particularly credited to Lt Pelagio Cruz ’35 of Bulacan.