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Journal of Commodore Ramon A. Alcaraz June 1941

Journal of Commodore Ramon A. Alcaraz June 1941. June 1, 1941 I had dinner with Lt Sid Huff USN and we talked about the 21- months ongoing war in Europe.

Mar 27, 2015



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Journal of Commodore Ramon A. Alcaraz June 1941 Slide 2 June 1, 1941 I had dinner with Lt Sid Huff USN and we talked about the 21- months ongoing war in Europe. By this time, virtually all Europe from eastern Spanish border to Russia border are under the control of Hitler. The British are fighting tenaciously despite continuous German raids. The British radar system helps a lot. Slide 3 June 1, 1941 - continued Sid narrated how the British Navy had their vengeance sinking the vaunted German battleship Bismark. Three days before, Bismark sunk the HMS Hood during an engagement between Iceland and Norway. He also mentioned the death of former German heavyweight boxing champion, Max Schmeling. He was KIA in the African front as a member of Gen Rommel's forces there. Slide 4 June 1, 1941 - continued About our area, we talked about the continuing agression of the Japs who already occupied part of Indo-China, several interior cities and coastal regions of China. The Japs are emboldened with their pact with Germany and Italy to pursue their expansion program. Public opinion in USA is mostly isolationalist, they do not want to get involve in war. I am happy to note, Sid is not isolationalist. He revealed that MacArthur and staff are concerned as he was alerted by Gen Marshall, USA Chief of Staff, that MacArthur may be called to active duty if the situation worsens. Slide 5 June 4, 1941 Let me tell you about my present rank and pay. Post WW II Peemayers are better off because upon graduation they are commissioned as 2nd Lt with a gold bar. Pre-WW II Peemayers like me were commissioned as 3rd Lt with no bars. I have been in the service for about 15 months now and am still a 3rd Lt expecting to be a 2nd Lt March 15 next year. My monthly basic pay is P150.00 per month. Pay for teachers is P30.00 per month. without paying any hard currency. I just signed a piece of paper after showing my OSP I.D. card. The bill was sent to the OSP Post Exchange and deducted from my pay by our disbursing O. Slide 6 June 4, 1941 - continued However, I also get P40.00 Qtrs allowance and P30.00 per diems per month for being officer of the day several days a month. I am still a bachelor renting a big apartment near PWU at Tenessee St shared with my classmates Alano, Apolinario, Picar as well as Magluyan '37 and Palencia '38. I was able to save money to purchase a 1939 Chev apple green coupe for P850.00. Also, P5.00 in your pocket is a lot of money to be able to take your girl for dinner at Tom's Dixie and a movie after. Yes, those are the golden days of the military when everybody trust us so much. I bought a P200.00 watch at Beck's (biggest store in Escolta then). Slide 7 Here I am as a Plebe (first year cadet) at the Philippine Military Academy, in Baguio City, Philippines, in December 1936. Slide 8 June 5, 1941 Today, our training aboard Q-Boats starts about the practical application of the academic theories, principles, nomenclatures about torpedoes we learned at OSP School. The maintenance, preparation for firing and actual firing of this intricate powerful weapon (only dummies will be used in actual firing) from Q- Boats will be covered. So far, our PMA Academic training helped a lot in preparing an OSP officer for Q-Boat duty. We have to learn many things, from the intricacies of navigation (extensive use of sextants as our boats are only equipped with magnetic compass, no gyro compass nor satellite navigation facilities then) to Naval Ordnance. Slide 9 June 5, 1941 - continued Chief Torpedoman William Mooney, USNR on loan from the USN working under the direct supervision of Lt Sidney Huff, our Naval Advisor from MacArthur's staff, is the Head of our Torpedo and Depth Charge Depmt. The extensive torpedo facilities at the USN Cavite Navy Yard is also available to us. lst Lt Simeon Castro '35 of Bulacan and 2nd Lt Alfonso Palencia '38 of Iloilo were selected to undergo specialization training in torpedoes at USN Torpedo School, San Diego, California. Slide 10 This picture was taken in March 1939 in Baguio City with Cadet Edmundo Navarro. We were both in Company B, and received the Araneta Cup during March Week ceremonies in 1939. Slide 11 June 7, 1941 As war clouds continue to gather in our Pacific region with intense Jap mil activities in nearby Indo-China, emboldened by their pact with Germany and Italy, US military dependents are being evacuated to the US mainland. The last batch of US dependents departed today aboard the US Army Transport US Grant. Slide 12 June 7, 1941 - continued Intense military training are not confined only to the OSP but PA wide also. My 29 classmates completed their training at the Infantry School, Camp Murphy, QC under Gen Mateo Capinpin. Their services are in great demand, so I hear from my former high school classmate and fellow Bulakenio, Cav Faustino Tinoy Sebastian, who tried PAAC first, washed out to graduate No. 1 in the Infantry School. These '40 new graduates are being distributed all over the 10 Mil Districts as key Os. Slide 13 PMA Class of 1940 Slide 14 June 7, 1941 - continued According to Tinoy, the assignments are as follows: Infantry School as Instructors: 3d Lts. Faustino Sebastian, Antonio Perez, Hospicio Tuazon & Ricardo Angeles; 1st Reg Div: 3d Lts David Pelayo, Jose Javier, Pedro Dulay, Alfredo Filart, Lucendro Galang, Delfin Argao, Ed Navarro, Joe Esguerra & Charles Corpuz; Albay: Epimaco Orias; Cebu: Daniel Iway; Cotabato: Salvador Piccio, Abenir Bornales, Marcelino Santos & Mel Acosta; Davao; Ramon Q Nosce, Romeo Lising & Francisco del Castillo; Panay - Ramon Gelvezon; Lanao: Felipe Fetalvero; Leyte: Sofio Bayron; Negros Occ: Uldarico Baclagon; Negros Or: Pacifico Barrios; Samar; Eduardo Soliman; Zambales: Ciceron dela Cruz; 4th MD-Pedro Bersola; 31st Inf - Diosdado Garcia; & 83rd Inf Div - Aristoteles Olayvar. Slide 15 June 11, 1941 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. Slide 16 June 11, 1941 - continued 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. Slide 17 June 11, 1941 - continued Todate, 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 1"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. Slide 18 June 11, 1941 - continued After getting his wings and qualifying as an air pilot, Francisco Vitug, crashed his plane, survived but lost an eye. He transfered 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. Slide 19 June 15, 1941 Today's Manila News front pages says Hitler is again up to something big. Several Divisions of German troops are massing along the Soviet borders. Another item announced the death of a New York Yankee baseball great, Lou Gehrig of a strange disease at age 38. (His sickness later became known as Lou Gehrig disease). He was a baseball team mate of Babe Ruth. My June 11,1941 Diary mentioned about my 17 Classmates that helped pioneer PAAC at Zablan Field as reported by Cav Bert Aranzaso. Slide 20 June 15, 1941 - continued Today, I would like to mention about my "magnificent seven" classmates in the Coast Artillery Corps (CAC) as reported by my Mistah Rey Mendoza who visited me in Port Area from Fort Wint. Fort Wint is located at Grande Island at the entrance of Subic Bay, similar to what Corregidor is to Manila Bay. The powerful CAC big caliber cannons with disappearing carriages are the main weapons used to guard the entrance to Subic Bay. My seven CAC classmates aside from 3rd Lt Rey Mendoza are 3rd Lts. Deogracias Caballero who is the oldest among us; Jose Mendoza; Job T Mayo; Conrado Nano; Francisco Lumen; and Ricardo Foronda, the youngest member of class '40. Cav Rey narrated their intensive training program not only among themselves but also on the trainees to build a citizen army. Slide 21 June 15, 1941 - continued Note: Cav Bang Adrianos slight correction in my June 11,1941 Diary is partly valid. That time the present Camp Aguinaldo site was a wild cogonal area that gave me an impression it was far. That sizeable area was made a PA reservation first for use by PAAC, later named as Zablan Field. When Gen Capinpin started the Infantry School and Infantry Units, the Northern half of the area was used and later named Camp Murphy. The area south of Camp Murphy remained as Zablan Field until the start of WW II. It was at Zablan Field Eisenhower learned to fly. It will be of interest to many PAF personnel to know that in the Eisenhower Museum In Abilene, Kansas, pictures of PAAC pioneers when Eisenhower was learning to fly at Zablan are prominently displayed. He was so proud of being a qualified pilot by PAAC). Slide 22 June 17, 1941 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. Slide 23 June 17, 1941 - continued 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. Slide 24 June 17, 1941 - continued 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. Slide 25 June 17, 1941 - continued 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. Slide 26 June 18, 1941 News we got in Manila today states that Washington (DC) orders all German Consulates in USA be closed. At the same time, Canadian Prime Minister King pledges total support to British war effort. On the other hand, Turkey signs Friendship Pact with Hitler. Slide 27 June 18, 1941 - continued I also have seven magnificent classmates in the Civil Engineer (CE) Corps, an elite branch that qualifies only those who graduated with the first 10% bracket in academics. The CE Corps is also a new PA branch of Sv organized in late 1936 at a remote place east of Camp Murphy at Santolan Road. As of this date, my seven classmates in the CE are: Lt. Licurgo Estrada, Aide to Def Sec Teofilo Sison; Lt Washington Sagun, (my wife for two years) ExO, 31st Engr Bn; Lt Cipriano de Leon, ExO, 81st Engr Bn; Lt Reynaldo Bocalbos, Cadre Comdr, Engr Cadre, Calape, Bohol; Lt Pedro M Yap, ExO, 1st Engr Bn; Lt Pedro B Francisco, ExO, 71st Engr Bn; and Lt Ramon Olbes, ExO, 51st Engr Bn. Lts Licurgo Estrada and Pedro Yap were full pledge Civil Engineers when they entered PMA. Lt Olbes was originally with us at the OSP but due to sea sickness, transferred to CE. He was also the Baron at PMA for two years, a record difficult to surpass. Slide 28 June 19, 1941 Things are getting interesting. In answer to Washington's order closing all German consulates in USA, today Germany and Italy order closure of all US Consulates. Slide 29 June 18, 1941 - continued Let me tell you about the three remaining classmates whose whereabouts have not been covered. Two of them joined the Signal Corps namely Lt Jose Rodriguez who is presently assigned as Instructor at the Signal Troop School in Fort Mckinley. The other, Lt Amos Francia, a fellow Bulakenio and a relative is the Div Signal O, 61st Div. The third, Lt Florencio Causin, the best class horseman went to the Cavalry and is at present assigned to PMA as Equitation Officer. Slide 30 June 18, 1941 - continued Just as the practice today, before graduation, we were given three choices of branch of service listing by priority. Many of my classmate chose the PAAC, OSP, CAC. FA, Inf, etc but none the PC because we felt that one does not need to have a BS degree to do police work. Our mind was conditioned to technical matters to apply the vast academic knowledge we have. On my part, I chose the OSP as I predicted a maritime Philippines of more than 7,000 islands whose territorial area is 75% water needs sea power as its primary defense like Japan and England to be a great nation. Capt. Jose V Andrada, USNA '31, then C,OSP came personally to PMA to interview the many applicants and I was lucky to be among the magnificent seven selected. This accounts for all the 79 members of Class '40 and their whereabouts. Slide 31 June 21, 1941 This is the third week of intensive torpedo training by the 1st Q- Boat Squadron under the supervision of Chief Torpedo man William Mooney USN. We are not only learning a lot but more importantly, we are beginning to know the actual employment and use of this powerful weapon that can sink the mightiest battleship. Needless to say, all hands at OSP are working very hard with lots of enthusiasm. News headline says German troops drive into Russia in a wide front from Arctic to the Black Sea. Meantime, the Japs are increasing their troops in French Indo-China proclaiming its right to forge a new order in the region. Slide 32 June 21, 1941 - continued Let me make a brief comment on our military leadership and administration at present which is the Philippine Army created under CA # 1, Dec. 21,1935, crafted by MacArthur, Eisenhower, Ord and Huff, mil advisors to our current CinC, Pres Quezon. Our Sec of Defense is Teofilo Sison, Chief of staff is Maj Gen Basilio Valdez MC. He is the second Cof S, the first being Maj Gen Paulino Santos. HPA is at Oriente Bldg near Binondo Church and G-3 is B/Gen Vicente Lim USMA'14 and Eisenhower's classmate. Slide 33 Brig. Gen. Vicente P Lim USMA 1914 Classmate of Eisenhower Slide 34 June 21, 1941 - continued MacArthur and staff holds office in Malacanang and in the beginning, they called all the shots through Gen V Lim who started as G-1 at HPA. At present, HPA is well organized that minimal interference is coming from Malacanang. At present, Ord is gone since that fatal plane crash in Baguio in 1938. Eisenhower is also gone for a new assignment in CONUS in 1939 and replaced by B/Gen R Sutherland. This leaves MacArthur, Sutherland and Huff as the present Mil Advisors of Quezon. Slide 35 June 25, 1941 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. Slide 36 June 25, 1941 - continued 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 Valdez MC comparatively stable and normal with Gen. Vicente Lim as his G-3 and the different services manned by technically trained leaders. Slide 37 Maj. Gen. Basilio J Valdez Chief of Staff, PA 1939-45 UST 1916 PC INS 1921 Slide 38 June 25, 1941 - continued 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. Slide 39 Maj. Gen. Paulino Santos Chief of Staff, PA 1936-39 PCA 1914 Slide 40 June 28, 1941 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. Slide 41 June 28, 1941 - continued 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. Slide 42 Brig. Gen. Fidel V Segundo USMA 1917