Monday, November 3, 2014

Troops grieve for slain heroes

From the Mindanao Examiner BlogSpot site (Nov 3): Troops grieve for slain heroes

Coffins of 6 slain soldiers arrived in Zamboanga City on Monday. (Photos by Ely Dumaboc, Western Mindanao Command)

Troops were grieving for the untimely demise of six soldiers, one of them a young lieutenant, who were killed by the Abu Sayyaf in a clash in Basilan province in the troubled Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.

On Monday, their flag-draped coffins were paraded inside the Western Mindanao Command headquarters in Zamboanga City. The coffins of the six soldiers – Second Lieutenant Jun Corpuz, Sergeant Tranquilino Germo, Jr., Private First Class Roland Entera, Jr., Private First Class Freddie Pandoy, Private First Class Raffy Canuto and Private First Class Mark Anthony Singson – were brought to a chapel where troops honored them.

They were slain in a battle Sunday with militants in Sumisip town, a known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan, just several nautical miles south of here. The soldiers were patrolling the village when they engaged about 20 militants sparking a running gun battle. Marine Capt. Maria Rowena Muyuela, a spokesperson for the Western Mindanao Command, said the slain soldiers were part of a team guarding a road project in the town. “

The 22-year old Corpuz who graduated this year from the Philippine Military Academy, was the fourth child among the seven children of Cresencio and Elizabeth, both 49. Philippine military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc said Corpuz, a brilliant mathematician since his college days, excelled and graduated number 13 in his class at Don Mariano Marcos State University in Bacnotan town in La Union province.

He said Corpuz was a second year engineering student of when he decided to enter the Philippine Military Academy in April 2010. “As a PMA cadet, Corpuz dreamed of becoming a Scout Ranger and yearned to live a life that is full of danger,” he Cabunoc wrote in his blog, saying, the death of the young officer was like losing a brother.

Cabunoc said the slain lieutenant was motivated by the combat stories shared by his maternal uncle, Master Sergeant Jaime Galima, a battle-hardened Scout Ranger who regularly visited his home when he was still a young boy.

“He told me that he would like to earn the 'tabak' (Scout Ranger qualification badge) one day. He really wanted to become a war hero and a warrior like Uncle Jaime," said Emmanuel, 23, his elder brother.

Sergeant Marvin Paragoso, 33, who was one of the two survivors who fought with Corpuz the Abu Sayyaf, described the slain officer as a very good leader who can easily mingle with the troops.

“He was a very caring person who readily listened and helped solve our problems. He always found time to interact with us during our leisure time,” said Paragoso as he held back tears, according to Cabunoc.

He said Paragoso was with Corpuz during a routine security patrol where the construction of the 64-kilometer Basilan Circumferential Road is on-going.  Corpuz and his men saw a high ground that could be used by bandits as a staging ground for their attacks. He decided to clear the bushy part of the hill by personally checking its surroundings.

“While climbing the hill, we saw a man who hurriedly left away from the crest. All of a sudden our leading elements were heavily engaged in an intense firefight, hitting some of them. Positioned a few meters from the leading elements, Lt. Corpuz commanded us to provide supporting fires to save them. We fought hard but we were overwhelmed by their numbers,” Paragoso narrated.

Sensing that they will be encircled, Paragoso convinced Corpuz to jump towards a ravine and find a covered position as he radioed for reinforcements. “I saw Lt. Corpuz firing his gun at our attackers while I leaped towards a defilade to escape from the high-explosive rounds that rained on us. I was hit and bleeding so I crawled towards safety,” he said.

When his comrades came after about half an hour, they found the lifeless body of Corpuz. “I will never forget a compassionate leader like him. True to his word, he left no one behind,” said Paragoso, a native of Cotabato.

“He died fighting to save his wounded comrades whom he considered as his brothers. Tears flowed as they carried all of the six fatalities back to their detachment,” Cabunoc said.

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