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Saturday, December 12, 2009

19th BATTALION COMBAT TEAM (Motorized)

Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea
"Bloodhounds"

A battle hardened unit that distinguished itself in the anti-Huk campaign, the 19th BCT trained for 16 weeks at the Philippine Army’s training facility at Marikina, fondly called “Marikorea” by the men.

The first contingent of the 19th arrived in Korea late April 1952 with the last contingent rotating to Korea two months later. Battalion commander was Col. Ramon Aguirre.

The 19th held a segment of the main line of resistance in the Chorwon-Siboni corridor in the west central sector of Korea. It was first attached operationally to the US 1 Corps and then to the US 45th Infantry Division. Armistice negotiations to end the war were being discussed when the 19th went into action against the men of the Chinese People's Volunteer Army (CPV). The men of this famed battalion acquitted themselves well against the CPV.

But their most outstanding combat achievement was in the battle for hills dominating the Chorwon-Siboni area, considered he most vulnerable sector of the UNC’s front line. The battalion was given responsibility for defending Hill 191 (also called Arsenal Hill) and Hill Eerie, comprising Combat Outpost No. 8, on 17 June.

Men of the 19th about to assault Bloody Nose Ridge.
On 18 June, the CPV bombarded the 19th’s positions with heavy artillery fire, killing two men and wounding four. The battalion’s howitzers and mortars returned fire, inflicting casualties on the CPV. The intense artillery duel was a prelude to what would soon be called “The Rizal Day Battle for Combat Outpost No. 8.”

Mortar crew fires on the communist Chinese.

The CPV continued pummeling the battalion’s positions the next day in preparation for an infantry assault that was aborted after the 19th returned fire. The intense artillery duels resulted in the deaths of eight Filipinos, including an officer.

 Pfc Fernando Micua receives a medal for gallantry from Gen Jesus Vargas

At 10:00 p.m. on 20 June, the enemy opened a heavy artillery and mortar barrage against the 19th following this up with a massive infantry attack. Flares fired by the 19th revealed waves of CPV heading towards Hills Eerie and 191.

Commanding Officer Col Ramon Aguirre

Under terrific artillery fire, and attacked by a massive force, the battalion stood its ground. Counter battery fire destroyed many of the CPV guns and mortars.

19th BCT troopers listen to the "PI Calling Korea" radio program.

On the battlefield, the battalion fought in a savage hand-to-hand and bayonet melee throughout the evening. At some positions along the Filipino line, the battle looked like the siege of a medieval castle with the Chinese clambering up ladders and the Filipinos shooting them down or pushing them off. Lt. Apollo Tiano led his platoon in a frantic bayonet charge against the advancing Chinese, killing one before being killed himself. His men held their positions.

Filipinos in winter camouflage uniforms.

The Chinese ware fought to a standstill and forced to retreat by a savage counterattack. The fight continued until the morning of the 21st. The retreating Chinese left behind the hulks of two tanks and over 500 dead. Eight Filipinos were killed and 16 wounded in the brutal night battle.

At the end of this gory, four-day battle, a group of Filipino soldiers ascended Hill 191 and, in full view of the Chinese, planted the Filipino flag on its summit. It was a heroic act of defiance that told the Chinese they had lost this battle.


More actions against the CPV followed and the fighting skill shown by the veterans of the 19th drew respect and praise from other UN fighting units. The 19th was the first PEFTOK battalion awarded the South Korean Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation. It also received a Battle Citation from the US X Corps.

Warriors at rest.

Pres. Quirino’s warrior son
Among the officers of the 19th BCT were two men apart from all the rest. One of them was 1Lt Tomas “Tommy” Quirino, Philippine Army, Pres. Quirino’s only surviving son. The other was 1Lt Luis “Chito” Gonzalez, Philippine Air Force, the husband of Pres. Quirino’s only surviving daughter, Victoria.

Pres. Quirino’s wife, the former Alicia Syquia, and three of his children (Armando, Norma and Fe) were among the over 100,000 Filipino civilians massacred by the Imperial Japanese Army during the Battle of Manila from February to March 1945.

In an act of great personal courage, Pres. Quirino sent his son and son-in-law to fight in the Korean War. The question is “Why”? His answer:

“I sent ahead of you my only son and son-in-law to offer their blood in defense of democracy. Thus, my pride will be that with my own flesh and blood, I shall have participated in your coming struggle and victory, for the honor and prestige of our country.”

1Lt Quirino was a member of the Signal Corps of the Philippine Army and served as a Forward Air Observer in the 19th BCT. 1Lt Gonzalez served as a pilot and Forward Air Controller, also with the 19th BCT. They were attached to the aviation unit of the U.S. 45th Infantry Division.

Both flew their dangerous missions in the Stinson L-5 Sentinel, an unarmed and slow observation, artillery spotting and liaison aircraft. The difficult and dangerous job of Lieutenants Quirino and Gonzalez was to fly over communist positions in search of enemy targets.

Captured Chinese soldiers said the airpower of the United Nations Command was the weapon they most feared. They also said among the most hated of Allied soldiers were the aerial observers that brought down death and destruction upon them by directing accurate howitzer fire from massed artillery batteries.

Given this level of hatred for Allied aerial observers, one can surmise the fate of either Lieutenants Quirino or Gonzalez had they been captured. Had either been shot down, captured or killed, the outcome of the Philippines' saga in the Korean War would have been much different. But both survived the Korean War.

1Lt Tommy Quirino

39 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Mr. Villasanta, thank you for writing about our father's heroic acts during the Korean war. My late father 2LT. Maximo G. Severa (Ret), 19th BCT is one of the awardee of Military Merit Medal. He fought in Eerie Hill where he got his medal. Too bad I was not able to hear more of his stories when he was still alive.

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    1. I knew your father personally. I interviewed him about his role in the Korean War and we had many happy conversations together.

      I was shocked by his death. I salute you and your family and say a prayer for your heroic Father.

      God Bless You All.

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  3. Thank you for sharing about the 19th BCT's history. My grandfather served in Korea when he was just a 1st Lieutenant and was with this unit.

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    1. What is your grandfather's name? We now have a "PEFTOK KOREAN WAR MEMORIAL HALL" located along Bayani Road at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

      The Memorial Hall has a museum where you can view photos and read the stories of the Korean War that I wrote.

      If your family still has some of your grandfather's personal memorabilia, please consider donating these to the Museum. We will display them so Filipinos will know who your grandfather was.

      The names of all the 7,400 officers and men of PEFTOK are inscribed on glass panels at the Museum. You can look for your grandfather's name on the panel of the 19th BCT.

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    2. I will visit the memorial next time we are in the Philippines. Unfortunately, I do not know if we still have any Korean War memorabilia. My grandfather was Teodoro Directo Jr.

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  5. Mr Villasanta,

    Thank you for sharing this historical account of the Korean War. I know little about it--all I know was that my grandfather was part of the 19th BCT based on my Google searches.

    http://www.philippinepeacekeepers.ph/?args=Registry&kstr=Arturo+Videna&mode=1

    First Lieutenant Arturo B Videna
    19th Battalion Combat Team (BCT), Philippine Army
    Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea (PEFTOK)
    United Nations Command (UNC) in Korea
    Deployed 16 June 1952

    My grandmother has a collection of his medals, photos with President Marcos, and other memorabilia. I'm curious if his name is inscribed on the glass panel at the Museum that you mentioned. There's no way for me to look since I'm based in the USA and rarely go to the Philippines. Is there any other way to find out?

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    1. I'll take a photo of the panel with your grandfather's name and email it to you. But I'll need your email.

      Mine is peftok@yahoo.com.

      Best regards,

      Art

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  6. It's nice to read about the bravery and fighting prowess of Filipino soldiers who fought in the Korean War. When I studied highschool in Baler, Aurora in the 70's,one of my neighbors was a certain Sgt. Enteng Bihasa who used to tell stories of his exploits in Korea which was even made into a movie entitled Hill 191. Back then, I thought that he was just bloating his stories but realized now that his exploits and those of the men with him in the 19th BCT were real and worthy of honor and appreciation.

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  7. I've heard of this movie but have not been able to find a copy of it. I've also seen parts of this movie in a YouTube video with the title, The Philippines can beat China. The maker of this video, however, has removed this video and I don't recall his name.

    The video shows men of the 19th attacking Chinese hilltop positions. Hill 191 was the centerpiece of the Battle of Arsenal and the 19th victoriously defended their positions in a gory, four day battle.

    Much of the battle was fought at night, as were many of the battles in the Korean War.

    Thank you for your information. Is Sgt. Bihasa still alive?

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  8. Do you have the names of soldiers who participated with the 19th BCT. Thank you Mr. Villasanta

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    1. Hi. The names of all the officers and men who served with the 19th BCT are printed on a glass panel at the Museum of the PEFTOK Korean War Memorial Hall located inside the Philippine-Korea Friendship Center along Bayani Road in Fort Bonifacio (near the Libingan ng mga Bayani).

      The Museum is open 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

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  9. I got a scholarship from PEFTOK when I was in college through my father. I think my father was with the 19th BCT.

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    1. Your father is a hero and it is his heroism that got you your PEFTOK scholarship. Honor your father's memory by being the best you can be. And as you succeed, never forget to love your country and help her when the time of great danger comes.

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  10. Hi is the PEFTOK scholarship available even if i want to study in korea i also want to visit the country that my grandfather also serve in the times of the war. i think my grandfather belongs to this unit..he's name was Juanito Villamil Sr.

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  11. And to inform you my grandfather died last December but not given a memorial service for a hero that fought for the freedom of a country and i am very sad about that his remains are at the public cemetery in Angono, Rizal However can i visit the PEFTOK Memorial Hall anytime? i also want to learn more about the acts of heroism that my grandfather was also involved ..

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  12. I am sorry to hear about your father's death. The Philippines has lost another hero. There are no PEFTOK scholarships that will allow you to study in Korea.

    There is the Revisit Korea program that sends Korean War veterans and their descendants to Korea for free. You can contact the PEFTOK Veterans Association, Inc. at 911-25-79 for more information. Tell them about your needs. You can talk to the person in charge of the 19th BCT. The PEFTOK Korean War Memorial Hall is open Monday to Saturday 8am to 5pm. Entrance is free. You can take all the pictures you like. Be sure to bring your own water and food since there is no canteen on the site.

    Beside the Memorial Hall is a building that trains Filipinos to work in Korea. You might want to visit this building to inquire how you can join the training program. Good luck.

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  13. Thank you po for this sir.. Proud grandson of Maximino 'Tikboy' Felicia, 19th BCT.. Ordinance and Motorpool Division. Am a current scholar of PEFTOK and will graduate very soon. Hoping to visit PEFTOK office again at Camp Aguinaldo this year!

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  14. Be a hero like your grandfather. Be all you can be. And one day, do something for your country.

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  15. Thank you for this sir. My grandfather was a PEFTOK veteran and I'm proud of him. More power to you!

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    1. I hope he inspires you to do great htings for our country. God bless you and follow your dream despite all obstacles.

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  16. My father Cpl Alejandro O Castillo PA, was a member of 19TH BCT (The Bloodhound), a PEFTOK veterans, He is still living presently residing at #45 Brgy Gonzales, Pakil Laguna.. more power to the veterans

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    1. If you have time, you and your father can visit the PEFTOK MUSEUM at the PEFTOK Korean War Memorial Hall located along Bayani Road inside Forst Bonifacio. There are many pictures and memorabilia donated by PEFTOK veterans. You can take pictures. Your father's name is printed on the lighted panel along with all the other officers and men of the 19th BCT.

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  17. My grandfather also served during the Hill 191 battle. His name is Loretto Bihasa aka Little Sergeant of the Cross. From what I understand they made a movie about his exploit to Hill 191 starring Vic Vargas who played his role. He also won a high award, Gold Cross I believe. They still cannot findthe film however, but we are still trying.

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  18. greetings Sir,
    my late father Emigdio V. Jose' belongs to 19th BCT as well and He was a 2nd.Lt. when He went to Korea. I would like to ask you if its true that the Korean Goverment is offering a scholarship on His Kids or grandkids at present?
    thank you very much,
    afjose'

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    1. The PEFTOK Veterans Association, Inc. or PVAI offers scholarhsips for the descendants of PEFTOK veterans. You can inquire about the scholarship by calling PVAI at 911-25-79. Ask to talk to the lady in charge of the scholarship program. PVAI is located at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

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    2. my fathers name is 1st Lt. Emigdio V. Jose a 19th BCT as well...can i avail that educational benefit with my son ?i am retired too now..

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  21. Hello Sir Art! I am a grandson of RAFAEL TORRES DANIPOG. I want to know if my grandpa really belongs to 19th BCT. Someone told me that they saw my grandpa's name in this 19th BCT. My grandpa is still alive (86th y/o). May I know also if we can apply as well to scholarship grants?

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  22. Hello Sir Art! I am a grandson of RAFAEL TORRES DANIPOG. I want to know if my grandpa really belongs to 19th BCT. Someone told me that they saw my grandpa's name in this 19th BCT. My grandpa is still alive (86th y/o). May I know also if we can apply as well to scholarship grants?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. The PEFTOK Veterans Association, Inc. or PVAI offers scholarhsips for the descendants of PEFTOK veterans. You can inquire about the scholarship by calling PVAI at 911-25-79. Ask to talk to the lady in charge of the scholarship program. PVAI is located at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City. You can ask the lady in charge of the 19th BCT about your grandfather.

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  24. Good day Sir. I just want to know if Bievenido Porras belong to 19th BCT. He's my grandmother's Brother and we don't hear anything from him. I'm hoping His still alive and find him. Thank you & GOdbless.

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    1. You can call the office of the PEFTOK Veterans Association, Inc. at 911-25-79 to inquire abouyt him.

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  25. My grandfather, PEFTOK member, 2LT/MSgt Melanio Cera passed away November 9, 2017. Libing po nya Wednesday, November 22, 2017 @ 0700. Address po ng lamay: 01 Orchids street, Nilombot, Mapandan, Pangasinan.

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