The Philippine Army (PA) commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Hunters Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) Guerrillas’ retaking of Fort William McKinley today, Feb. 17, 2020, at Army Headquarters.
Fort William McKinley, now known as Fort Andres Bonifacio, was regained through the bravery of the Hunters ROTC Guerrillas who took part in the liberation battles from the Japanese Imperial Forces in 1945.
Guest of Honor and Speaker, Philippine Veterans Affairs Office Administrator, Under Secretary Ernesto G. Carolina, led the wreath-laying ceremony at the Larangang Hunters-ROTC Grandstand, which was also named by the PA in honor to the guerilla’s heroism.
During his speech, Carolina recalled the gallantry of the Hunters-ROTC, who despite being too young, fought against the Japanese control. “May their stories be inspirational to our youth today and may it be a motivation to serve the country,” said Carolina.
The Hunters-ROTC was created when young cadets from the Philippine Military Academy wanted to join the war efforts against the Japanese. In 1942, recruits from various ROTC components were gathered and organized to form a fighting unit. The retaking of Fort McKinley began on February 4, 1945. The operation was led by the 47th ROTC Division of the Hunters-ROTC Guerrillas with other Hunters units as well.
On February 12, the Hunters-ROTC launched their offensive against the Japanese resistance and overcame the superiority in arms and numbers of the opponent by penetrating enemy lines under cover of darkness. The Hunters commenced fighting from the rear, causing confusion. After days and nights of heavy fighting, the Filipino together with the American forces finally overwhelmed the superior Japanese Naval forces on February 15 to 16, 1945. The rest of the Philippine Islands were eventually liberated from Japanese rule.
“Today we remember the heroism, gallantry, and selfless sacrifices of the Hunters Reserve Officers Training Course Guerrillas. May this [ceremony] remind us of the heroism, sacrifice, and many achievements of Filipino and allied Veterans,” said presiding officer and Commander of Army Installation Management Command, Maj. Gen. Tyne T. Bañas. PHILIPPINE ARMY