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Living history next week

Legacy of Philippine Scounts presented

Members of the 26th Cavalry Regiment in formation in 1937. U.S. Army photo

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The English archaeologist and author John Still once said, "the memories of men are too frail a thread to hang history from."

History demands that some of its lesser-known chapters be revisited so that the actions and words of those involved at a certain point and place in time are not forgotten.

To Art Garcia, Bill Emma and Jim Macorro, this is the reason for the existence of the Philippine Scouts Living History Group.

In conjunction with the Philippine Scouts Heritage Society, the three men will be the featured presenters at the Nov. 28 annual meeting of the Lakewood Historical Society.

The meeting will be at Lakewood's Best Western Motor Inn, 6125 Motor Ave. SW, from 7-9 p.m.

The men will describe the role of the 12th Infantry Division (the Philippine Division) and its importance during World War II.

Along with their discussion will be a history of the 26th Cavalry Regiment, the Filipino unit that made the last horse-mounted cavalry charge in U.S. military history against advancing Japanese forces.

SFC Dan (Dominador) Figuracion, a former Lakewood resident, took part in that charge.

Their stories strengthen that frail thread of history.

"Those who attend will learn of the valor of the Filipinos, particularly those who served in the U.S. Army's 12th Infantry Division and other units," wrote Garcia, an Army veteran, in an email.

"Filipinos are well known for holding their ground and fighting to the last."

But are Americans?

"Little known outside the Philippines and largely forgotten by the U.S. Army of which they were a proud part, the Scouts were soldiers par excellence," wrote retired Col. John Olson, a survivor of the Bataan Death March.

The 65-mile march in April 1942 was the forcible transfer by the Japanese Army of about 75,000 Filipino and American prisoners of war during which thousands died.

"Despite the odds and horrors, the Scouts were some of the finest soldiers ever to serve in the Army."

The first Scouts saw action in 1901 during the American occupation of the Philippine Islands. Their mission was to help restore order and peace.

After the Philippine-American War (1899-1902), Congress approved the induction of the Philippine Scouts into the U.S. Army.

With the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in early World War II, the Scouts were America's frontline troops in what would become the Pacific Theater.

They were responsible for more enemy casualties than any other unit at the time.  Their actions occupied the Japanese long enough to allow the United States to rebuild it naval fleet in the Pacific.

When the Philippines finally fell to the invading Japanese in 1942, many of the Scouts died during the Bataan Death March.

"My grandfather fought in the Philippine-American War in 1899," continued Garcia.

"And my dad was in the Bataan Campaign in World War II and fortunately survived the Death March."

This is history that should not be forgotten.

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