Philippine Scouts Heritage Society 25th Annual Reunion
The 25th Annual Reunion of the Philippine Scouts Heritage Society took place in Long Beach, California on May 8 and May 9, 2009. This gathering was hosted by the Living History Company of the Alexander Nininger Chapter of the Society.
It's always risky to thank certain individuals since inevitably others will inadvertently be left out. Nevertheless, congratulations and thanks are due Nininger Chapter Officers, Philip Garcia, Gil Mislang, Victor Verano and Rudy Cabigas and the others for making the reunion such a success. It was truly a home run in every respect. There was excellent attendance at the panels and presentations and at the closing dinner on Saturday night. Everything went off like clockwork. It takes a lot of effort and attention to detail which the chapter gave in abundance. I also want to thank Chris Schaefer for his help in getting the word out about the reunion. There was good media coverage including an early morning talk show on Sunday. The two days were a fitting tribute to the Scouts and their heroism.
Highlights included retired Major General Antonio Taguba's keynote speech at the closing dinner in which he spoke forcefully of the responsibilities and duties of U.S. soldiers in combat and in the handling of captives. He also noted his investigation of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq. The General led a discussion on these topics in the morning and fielded a number of questions. General Taguba's father, uncle and cousin were Philippine Scouts.
In addition to General Taguba's kickoff session, Saturday was the day for panels and presentations summarized as follows:
- Felipe Fernandez, Dan Figuericion and Ed Ramsey formed a veterans' panel. They had been members of the 26th Cavalry (PS) and spoke of the early fighting on Luzon after the Japanese invasion. They answered numerous questions about the combat actions that took place including the last U.S. horse cavalry charge which Colonel Ramsey led. One poignant moment occurred when the panel members reminisced about their horses and the great loss they felt when the horses were slaughtered for food since the troops were on reduced rations and slowly starving.
- Donald Plata gave us an update on his documentary about the Scouts and showed us a power point presentation of the work that was done in Hong Kong with reenactors as Scouts. This documentary is going to be an outstanding tribute to the Scouts. Our thanks go to Donald as he wraps up his work in the months ahead.
- A reenactors’ panel made up of Philip Garcia, Gil Mislang, Victor Verano and Rudy Cabigas recounted how they got started with Philippine Scout reenacting and how they formed a Living History Company. They also spoke of how they came to reactivate the Alexander Nininger Chapter of the Society. The panel provided pictures and background regarding the encampments, shows, prizes won and parades in which they'd been engaged. The dynamism, energy and enthusiasm of the reenactors are infectious.
- Malcolm Decker went into considerable detail about his latest book, From Bataan To Safety. It's a fascinating tale of how two brothers and their families cared for over 100 American Soldiers who escaped from Bataan. Malcolm also held a book signing event later in the day.
- Tony Meldahl briefed us on his many research activities concerning World War II. This included his work with Joe Galloway, author of We Were Soldiers Once, and Young, a much heralded book that was later made into a movie. Tony also spoke of his research plans concerning the early days of World War II in the Philippines. He has an ambitious and exciting agenda in front of him.
- On Friday afternoon, Victor Verano showed us a picture slideshow and made a presentation of his recent visits to Bataan battlefields such as Mabatang and Abucay Hacienda. It was fascinating to see where battles actually took place. There were pictures of farmers who were there during the fighting and bullet scarred trees that were still in place. The presentation brought home how desperate the fighting must have been. There was nowhere to go for the Fil-Am forces but the peninsula of Bataan.
Friday morning was spent on Society business. An audit was conducted of the Society's finances. The Treasurer's report and a summary of the Secretary's minutes from the 2008 reunion were accepted by the Board of Officers. A combined Officers and General Meeting took place in which Jose Calugas, Jr was reelected as First Vice President of the Society and Gregg Baltazar Timbol was elected Secretary. Colonel John E. Olson was named by the Board as Historian Emeritus. Paul Ruiz was named as Newsletter Editor and Mike Houlahan as Historian. I want to thank these gentlemen for their willingness to serve and their devotion to these extraordinary soldiers.
Thanks to Joe Calugas, Jr., and his Jose Calugas, Sr. Chapter, the next reunion of the Philippine Scouts Heritage Society will be held in Tacoma, Washington on May 7 and May 8, 2010.
Our meeting closed with a moment of silence in honor of all those Scouts who have passed away. Their legacy will be carried forward and they will never be forgotten.
Until next time, as our late founding President, General Royal Reynolds would say, Mabuhay ang Philippine Scouts!
Sen. John Alexander Patterson, President
Philippine Scouts Heritage Society
Last modified: 04-Jun-2009