For the commemoration of the 72nd anniversary of the fall of Bataan, we are sharing excerpts from veterans of the Second World War. In The 202 Guerilla Squadron, Lt. Javier M. Esquerra shares his exploits upon joining the guerilla underground movement fighting against the Imperial Japanese Army. [Excerpted from War Memoirs of the Alcala Veterans by Alberto Marquez, published with the permission of New Day Publishers.]
During the guerrilla days of 1943, I was recruited by Candido Prado, a former townmate and friend who was residing in San Manuel, Tarlac to join the 202 Guerrilla Squadron of which he was the Squadron Commander.
Following my recruitment, I was inducted into the outfit together with few other men on 22 April 1943. Having been a school teacher before the war and being one of the educated among the men at that, I was given the rank of platoon leader but I had to recruit my own men. In two weeks time, I was able to recruit men from the barrios of Pindangan and San Pedro Apartado, of Alcala enough to make one platoon.
The hideout and training camp of our troop was located in Mangandingay, a barrio linking San Manuel with Alcala which was about six kilometers away from the national highway through San Manuel. It was a good hideout because aside from being remote, the place had adjoining sitios covered with trees and tall talahib grasses.
Between 1943 and 1945 the 202 Squadron engaged in occasional and sporadic ambush operations against the enemy especially those at the Japanese Garrison in Carmen, Rosales, Pangasinan. The squadron also checked the activities of certain hacienderos of San Manuel and neighboring towns who were supplying the enemies with rice and other food supplies. Eventually, we were able to win them to our side and they did not only supply our outfit with rice but they also gave us information about the coming of Japs in their haciendas to get rice supply so we could ambush them on the way.
In the organization of the East Central Luzon Guerrilla Army (ECLGA), Pangasinan and Tarlac belonged to one military district known as Pangasinan Tarlac Military District (PTMD). In a reorganization made by the PTMD, sometime during the early part of the liberation period, the 202 Squadron was eventually made Company C of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Pangasinan Regiment and thereafter was made to join the rest of the companies of the battalion that were undergoing training at the Guerrilla Combat Training Center in Alcala. Because our squadron had undergone ample military training at our Mangandangay Camp, our company did not undergo further training at the Training Center before we were sent to the frontlines.
On May 22, 1945, the 2nd Battalion was attached for war duty to the 32nd Division, U.S. Army. It participated actively in Villa Verde trail frontlines across the Caraballo mountains to Santa Fe, Nueva Ecija. In the frontlines, the different companies of the 2nd Battalion were made combat units and patrol teams and took part in several risky encounters with the enemy.
After taking Santa Fe in the middle part of June 1945, our battalion was attached to another U.S. Division, the Ordinance Company of the 37th Division U.S. Army. Our battalion helped the 37th Division in the mopping up operation against the enemy in the valleys and mountainsides of Isabela and Cagayan which lasted several weeks. After the surrender of Yamashita and his men in September 1945, our battalion was separated from the 37th Division and garrisoned at Tuguegarao, Cagayan. Later on, our battalion was sent to Bayambang, Pangasinan where we were processed and discharged from the service.