Dad Was In The Scouts
by First Sgt. Felix Saguing, USMC (Ret.)
Dad has always said that he was not a hero, although I considered him one. I can remember how he would stare into the distance as he narrated to me and a younger brother his youthful experiences and how he came to be in the Philippine Scouts, and I can remember all too well how his eyes would moisten and his shoulders sag as he spoke of friends and comrades lost on Bataan and during the infamous Death March. But, in the end, his shoulders would always straighten and you could detect the glint in his eyes as he proudly relates the heroic stand of the Scouts on Bataan and Corregidor. He passed away on October 12, 1972, but not before he instilled in me pride in being the son of a Scout.
I was just two years old when the bombs fell on Pearl Harbor and Clark Field on December 7, 1941. Any knowledge that I have of the events that followed were as told by my parents. Dad related that soldiers from his unit barely had the time to pack a few essentials for their families before taking them to an assembly area for evacuation. With the birth of another son on July, 1941, and dad having to report to his unit, mom has become solely responsible for our survival.
From December, 1941 to an undetermined date in 1943, mom and other Scouts' families moved about, always ahead of the Japanese occupation forces. The three of us finally ended up in Cardona, a small town on the shores of Laguna Bay. It was at this time that I began to have my own recollections of events, which remain vivid to this day.
I can remember when mom left us with another family and returned after two weeks with a strange looking, emaciated man that I would later learn was my father. It will be months before he would regain weight, and it would be years before I would learn of the circumstances that led to his release by the Japanese.
At an age when boys of my age (5 in 1944) would just be learning the alphabet, I became witness to the brutalities of war. Japanese soldiers would cordon off a village or town for a "sona" and line up every male from 12 years old and up in the square for a head count. An officer or NCO, and sometimes a civilian would call off names from a roster and dad would sound off when his name is called. Sometimes a man with a bag over his head would walk down the ranks. He would stop, point to an individual who is then beaten up and taken away by the Japanese.
It was also in Cardona that I witnessed Japanese soldiers brutally beat a man with rifle butts. This is after he was pointed out by the man with a bag over his head. After the beating, he was taken away and shot.
One sunny morning in late 1944, my brother and I were playing in the street with the other children when we heard the sound of planes flying overhead. They were at very high altitude and we could not see them. We would have known if they were Japanese. A few minutes later, a group of Japanese soldiers came excitedly running down the street and ordered everyone into their houses. That night, we saw flames lighting the sky in the distance. Dad whispered to us that the Americans are back and he may have to leave soon.
The Japanese, which up to this time have been "easy" became more edgy and would beat or kick a person for the most minor of infraction- like not bowing to them. The day before the Japanese abandoned their garrison, Dad joined a group of other men and disappeared into the night. It was not until August, 1945 that we will see him again. When he came back, he was with American troops and wearing the field uniform of a US Army soldier. The Philippines is finally liberated and we are again a family.
It was not until 1946 that we returned to Fort McKinley, but not to the old quarters. Dad retired at Clark Field in 1948 after 30 years of service as a Scout and would keep his family near "Fort Mac" where it all started. He would later take his family to California, but would return to this place dear to his heart to spend his last days.
Last modified: 11-May-2007