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Guillermo Perla (Read 2128 times)
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Guillermo Perla
Dec 17th, 2006, 2:06pm
I am writing this on behalf of my father-in-law, Guillermo (Gil) Perla, a proud former US Army Philippine Scout (ID 10304229) and Bataan Death March survivor.  Dad is 85 years young, a widower since 2004 when he lost Rosario, his loving wife of sixty years.  He is the proud father of three and grandfather of four.  

Gil is an unwaveringly proud Filipino American, active in American Legion, VFW, DAV and American Ex POW’s .  It is through these associations he learned that, because of his Bataan experiences, he may be eligible to receive the Purple Heart award for injuries sustained at the hands of Japanese guards during the march.  While the possibilities seem remote, one helpful prerequisite for the award, would be an eyewitness to the events that happened to him on April 10, 1942.

Gil joined the US Army, Philippine Scouts on March 10, 1941, serving his basic training at Ft. William McKinley before eventual assignment to the 12th Signal Corps on Bataan.  After the fall of Bataan, he joined 70,000 other US and Filipino troops on the infamous 60 mile Bataan Death March toward Tarlac.  

Dad was one of the luckier ones.  He began the march with about 400 others at 4 a.m. that morning of April 10.  At about 10 a.m., they were given a 10 minute rest and four hours later another rest and ‘lunch’:  a handful of soggy rice.  Late in the day, Dad slowed down to help a Marine (5th Marines?) who had become dizzy from the pace and the heat.  A Japanese soldier saw what Gil was doing and hit him hard on the back of the head with a rifle butt.  “Somebody put chewing tobacco on the wound to stop the bleeding, “ dad told us.  Later, they were given another rest and allowed to drink water from adjacent sugar cane fields.  Dad felt he had to escape or face more punishment.  

So, with the encouragement of a US Army sergeant, dad slipped away through the cane fields, eventually making his way back to Manila, where he worked for the duration of the occupation as a theater usher and remained active in the war effort through the Filipino guerilla movement.

After the war, Gil worked on Merchant Marine ships returning the war dead to the US.  Later, as a result of his US Army Philippine Scout duty, he was able to become a US citizen and moved his family stateside.  As a National Guardsman, he was recalled in 1951 for the Korean War and later joined the US Air Force where he served 23 years before retiring in Sacramento, California.  

Ever since the war, dad has had some problems with his neck.  The problems grew worse in his later years so in 2003, he underwent neck surgery to relieve some of the nerve and mobility problems.  The surgeon who performed the surgery was certain dad’s injuries were likely the result of a trauma such as the rifle butt of the Japanese guard sixty-one years ago.  The surgeon was kind enough to write a report as to his findings, which helped Gil receive a small disability compensation.  

Lately, Gil has found a strong desire to be awarded the Purple Heart before he dies.  With the help of the Veteran’s Administration, he is pursuing this ambition.  Again, while the idea seems remote, I am posting his story on your website in the hopes somebody might recall dad’s kindness toward that Marine and the action of the Japanese guard.  

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Re: Guillermo Perla
Reply #1 - Dec 29th, 2006, 6:37pm
Gil Perla,

I gave it a good search, hoping to find the Marine or some mention of the incident, but I came up with nothing.  As I was only looking on the internet in the Goverment NARA data base, mainly "aad", there is still a chance that your missing Marine and description of the incident are mentioned in someone's book of this time.

While I have over 100 books about the DeathMarch and I am always reading them, I will keep a look out for that incident.

My Army tour was a 3 year enlistment that saw me in Germany during the Cold War.  There was talk of giving us a Cold War Victory medal.  I have even written all I knew in Congress to sway a vote.  But no, as a secretary of defense put it when he turned down Congresse's vote, "Service men have enough medals and don't need another one".  So I know what a medal means and I hope you get that Purple Heart.


Tom McGeeney
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