The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


September 27, 2013

“We Remained” and “We Won!”

It is incredible that Colonel Russell Volckmann survived at all, let alone as Public Enemy Number One of the Japanese, who hunted him like a dog! Volckmann was a fierce fighter and a leader of wide repute, but perhaps his greatest skill, along with other Americans, was helping to win the hearts and minds of the Filipinos. He befriended many, and one of his lieutenants those days was Ferdinand Marcos, future president of the Philippines!


Living conditions were incredibly harsh, as he and his men coped with snakes and swamps, and the days turned into months and years.  Even the best of times were fraught with infestations of insects, and for years their most treasured commodity was that of sleep, -- often fleeing at a moment’s notice, to escape roving bands of Japanese who sought them day and night. Volckmann and his men worked hard when they were healthy, but had to rest often when "the fevers" took their strength.  


At the beginning of their ordeal, one big dilemma was not knowing friend from foe and having to discern loyal from disloyal individuals. Their little army even came into contact with the Igorots, who were head-hunters in those jungles! Elsewhere, as the world watched, Bataan and Corregidor became infamously known for the cruel “death march” forced by the Japanese, -- proof that Colonel Volckmann and others had done the right thing in refusing to surrender. 


Volckmann’s handful of Americans soon joined up with anti-Japanese Filipinos to form several battalions, which eventually spread out over the entire island.  The guerrillas used a sort of "pony express" system throughout its many trails, to keep in contact and to form the fighting units which later proved so valuable. His tiny band eventually grew to 20,000 tightly-organized and trained soldiers. They were both Americans and Filipinos, fighting side-by-side for victory and freedom. Independence was now on the horizon for the Philippines!

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