Son of an “Avenger”
The Korean War, considered by some historians as the “World War III” commenced when some 75,000 soldiers from the North Korean People’s Army advanced to the 38th parallel, which is the common boundary set by the Communist North Korea and pro-Western South Korea, on June 25, 1950. Within this threat, the world quickly reacted. North Korea is supported by Russia and China, while South Korea gained the support from United Nations led by the United States.
Within the same year in my country, Philippines, the “14th Battalion Combat Team” (14th BCT) was created. My father, a Corporal of the Philippine Constabulary, after serving in World War II (including several overseas assignments in Guam and Papua New Guinea, as well as local tour of duty in Jolo Sulu), was enlisted and assigned at Rizal Province. He was from Tayabas (Quezon Province) and first enlisted as First Class Private of the 51st Infantry Regiment (Commonwealth Army of the Philippines) on December 14, 1944 in Boac Marinduque.
The 14th Battalion Combat Team was later given the accolade “Avengers” by then Secretary of National Defense and later Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay when their team successfully crushed and flushed the renegade group “HUKBALAHAP” from the mountains of Antipolo.
He met my mother, Natividad from the Garrovillas and Ramos clan of Teresa, Province of Rizal and eventually got married on August 1952.
On March 1953, just seven months after marrying my mother, my father was called for duty to join Company “A” of the 14th Battalion Combat Team. My mother is seven months pregnant with their first baby, when my father left Manila to Pusan, South Korea.
14th BCT was the fourth battalion sent by the Philippine Government to Korea under the United Nations Command, and the last to engage in combat (the fifth and last battalion sent after the Avengers was deployed for reconstruction efforts).
My father was a radioman. His duty was to communicate and relay information about enemy position and movement. It remains vivid to me how he mentioned with pride the nature and importance of his job and the great danger involved therein. He explained that disrupting communication is always the primary objective in warfare — and that includes the radioman being a hostile target himself. A risk magnet to snipers and gunmen.
I recall as a child (when I am about 8 years old) my father was telling me war stories. He mentioned to me that he could had been killed during one of their missions, if not for the birds that remained steady on the trees and bushes where he crawled under for cover, while enemy forces sweeps the area. Should the birds flew, the flock could had compromised his position.
From Pusan, my father was brought to Chunchon by train and transferred by truck to “Sandbag Castle” — they arrive in the battlefront on May 15, 1953. Their mission is to secure the area and prevent the enemy from positioning there.
Amidst the loud noise of explosions, rapid gunfire and flashes of lights from artillery bombing in Korea, my mother in the Philippines is labouring with their first child. On May 17, 1953, a cry of a baby echoed — the soldier just became a ‘Dad’.
Within two months at the forefront, until they were relieved by US 45th Infantry Division, their battalion lost 4 men (KIA) and wounded 27 men (WIA).
After a couple of weeks, they returned to the frontline to rescue the 20th Division of South Korea (ROK) being heavily attacked by “Chinese People’s Volunteer Army” (CPV). The battalion’s mission is to counter attack CPV and establish a blocking position. On the evening of June 14, CPV initiated 12-hour massive artillery fire resulting 2 deaths of their men and wounding another 6.
The Avengers counter-attacked the following morning at “Christmas Hill”, targeting CPV on a position taken from American company. Despite being slowed down by hard rain and resistance, the counter attacks were still making good progress until July 18 when the battalion successfully repulsed enemy forces, inflicting over 200 casualties to the CPV.
After heavy fightings, there was an attempt from CPV to appease the Filipinos by blurting on their loud speakers “Go home, we are not your enemy“, to which the Avengers simply ignored, but replied with artillery strike that sent the enemy running for cover. CPV retaliated with another heavy offensive that they had been preparing simultaneously while promoting their propaganda.
When the battle resumed on 24 July, Company “A” of the 14th BCT suffered from heavy enemy artillery fire which continued for the next 3 days. Thousands of rounds were fired at the battalion resulting communications disruption. The Avengers answered back also hurling thousands or rounds against Chinese artillery and infantry positions, until they ran out of ammunitions.
On July 27, 1953 an Armistice Agreement mediated by the United Nations, was entered between North Korea and South Korea, supported by the United States and China.
While news was heard about the truce, the enemy continued bombarding the battalion who are hiding on their foxholes due to lack of ammunitions. As soon as fresh supply of artillery shells arrived, despite the cease fire order, the Avengers still engaged the Communists on an all-out-duel. Truly, the 14th BCT were the last battalion who fired shots in Korean War.
By the end of July, hostilities subsided, the Avengers were finally pulled out from the front line and were moved to Yanggu Valley to embark on rebuilding villages ravaged by war. Within this period, my father celebrated his 30th birthday in Korea.
Of the 7,420 Filipinos sent to Korea, 112 were killed, 313 wounded and 16 men remain officially missing. From the 14th Battalion Combat Force (the ‘Avengers’) only 6 were killed.
On February 1954, my father was reunited with my mother in Manila. Thereafter and later my parents brought us — five daughters and three sons (including myself) — to the world. My father continued to serve the Philippine Army to support the family.
For their efforts, the 14th Battalion Combat Team “The Avengers” received the South Korean Presidential Unit Citation in December 1953 and later the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation in March 1954. My father remained with the Philippine Constabulary assigned in the Province of Rizal.
Two decades later, when I was born on February 1976 (a Wednesday), he decided to file his retirement the following Monday. He chose to live quietly on a small farm adjacent to a river, instead of on our house at the town proper, in Teresa Rizal, until his death in the evening of August 1985 at the age of 60 (I am 9 years old). He died alone, cardiac arrest.
I have had spent of most of my childhood years with him (especially during weekends and school break) in the farm. Off the farm, I can also recall him bringing me along on Veterans Conventions, and seeing then Secretary of National Defense (and future President) General Fidel V. Ramos, who also served on the Korean War.
My father, retired 2nd Lieutenant Severino S. Oliveros completed 27 years, 5 months and 22 days of active military service. A World War II and Korean War veteran.
I am a proud son of an Avenger: Company “A” of the 14th Battalion Combat Team, Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK).
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