Speech of Maj. Maximo P. Young, PA, Ret. before the COMMAND and GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, Philippines

 

 

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[At 1:30 PM on August 27, 2019 Daddy Max was invited to be the GUEST OF HONOR and SPEAKER at the COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, Metro-Manila. Dad Max spoke before a class of Philippine military officers  (notable among whom are colonels and lieutenant colonels) including military officers from other countries who are undertaking one-year schooling to qualify them for promotion  to the generalship rank. The initial schedule actually was on August 22, 2019 at 10:00 AM but as Daddy Max was priorly scheduled to attend to another engagement, the event was moved to August 27, 2019.] 

 

Good morning! Thank you for inviting me to your college, as I share to you bits and pieces of my life as a simple Filipino army soldier.

 

DAD-MAX-COLLAGE

I have served our beloved country the Republic of the  Philippines, and fought to defend  freedom and democracy in three wars: World War 2, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

 

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I fought her domestic enemies, the communist Hukbalahap and its   successor, the New People’s Army, from the 1940s to the 1960s.

  I began serving our beloved country, as a 19-year old soldier,  when the Second World War broke out in 1941.

 

I was conscripted by the USAFFE or the United States Army Forces in the Far East, for military    service after Japan attacked the Philippines on December 8, 1941.

 

 

I faced death against the Japanese forces   who sank the MV Legaspi where I was  a crew member. MV Legaspi was transporting    supplies and Filipino soldiers from the Visayas to Luzon to fight the Japanese when it was sunk off   Puerto Galera, Mindoro by two (2) Japanese      warships and I was captured.

 

But I escaped from the Japanese camp to later join the 72nd Infantry of the Military District of Negros Island.

 

silver-star-medal

 

Right after World War II, I was awarded the U.S. Silver Star, the United States Army Forces’ third highest military decoration for valor, for my service as crewmember of the MV Legaspi.

 

 

Seventy three years after World War II – on September 13,   2018 – I was one of the first together with other TWELVE (12) Filipino Veterans who received the US Congressional Gold Medal from US Ambassador Sung Kim . The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor the US Congress can bestow to an individual.

 

10th BCT parades at Rizal Coliseum prior to deploying to Korea

 

And in the KOREAN WAR, my unit, the 10th BATTALION COMBAT TEAM, was the most     bloodied among all five (5) BCTs that served in the KOREAN WAR. The 10th accounted for over half of all Philippine casualties in the Korean War — 112 KIA, 229 WIA, 16 MIA and 41 POW.

 

And in the  Vietnam War, I was designated as Military Advisor of the Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support Group or CORDS. I was invalided home from injuries I suffered after almost being captured by armed men of the North Vietnamese militia.

 

PEFTOK-logo

 

 Now, let me tell you about my beloved Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea or PEFTOK.

 

There are fewer than 1,347 PEFTOK veterans   left alive today: 1,347 out of the 7,420 eager young men who set foot in Korea, seven decades   ago, to fight     in their country’s first foreign war.

 

 PEFTOK  was born in an era   where patriotism was so powerful as many Filipinos then were willing to sacrifice  their lives for our dear Motherland.

 

 Many of you perhaps will be surprised that tens of thousands of Filipino men volunteered to fight in Korea. Many of these patriots were ordinary civilian     men without military  experience. Many others were    brave Filipino   guerrillas who fought against    the Japanese.But only  7,420 were chosen.

 

COL-AZURIN

 

Our commander in the 10th BCT was the late Colonel Mariano Azurin. The 10th BCT  was   the only Philippine Army tank battalion in the Philippines then, as we had then a company of American-made tanks.

 

I was chosen by Col. Azurin because, in 1947 – three years before the Korean War deployment – I was  sent by the Philippine government to train for one (1) year on Armored Communications at Fort Knox, Kentucky USA.  Fort Knox then was home to the US Armor School and was used during those times by the US Army and Marine Corps to train crews on the M1 Abrams main battle tanks.

 

LUNETA

  A march-in-review was performed for the 1,468 members of the 10th BCT on September 8, 1950.  Around 50,000 people witnessed the event at the Luneta Grandstand in Manila.

 

We left Manila on September 15, 1950 .We arrived at  Busan aboard a U.S. Navy troop transport, the MS ANTOLAK,  after a rough  four day voyage. We set foot on Korean soil  on September 19, 1950, where the 10th BCT was  met by a loud band playing music actually a marching song, which I can not now recall. We felt like heroes being welcomed home.

 

 When we arrived in our destination, KOREA then was  experiencing its coldest    winter. We pitched    our tents on an open field and many of us – me included  – woke up with water    snakes in our tents. The   snakes apparently fled the cold and sought warmth beside our warm bodies.

 

 

Busan then was a world away from Busan now. When we arrived, the port  was a fortress geared for war.

 

It was at Busan that we first  came face-to-face  with frightened and thin Korean refugees, many of them children, begging us for food. One of my  enduring  memories of my first month in Korea was the seemingly unending  stream of Korean refugees fleeing the fighting. And there seemed to be so many parent-less children among these  refugees.

 

It was heartbreaking.

 

There are two major battles that the 10th BCT waged and saw action in the Korean War: the Battles of Miudong and Yuldong which I am going to talk about today:

 

THE BATTLE OF MIUDONG

 

 

From Busan, we moved into North Korea as part of the United Nations’ Command (USC) counter-attack that almost destroyed the North Korean People’s Army.

 

At the outskirts   of the town of Miudong in North Korea, the battalion fought its first   pitched battle, this was against a North Korean   battalion. The BATTLE OF MIUDONG was the   first battle fought, and won, by Filipino soldiers on foreign soil.

 

At the time of this victory, I was a First Sergeant and a Tank Platoon Commander of the Reconnaissance Company.

 

I commanded five (5) M24 Chafee light tanks each armed with a 75 mm gun. Our    secondary weapon was a .50 caliber heavy machine   gun mounted    atop the turret.

 

The mission given our battalion was to clear        and secure the town of Singye inside North Korea     just above the 38th Parallel.

 

We moved out  towards  Singye in a long column early  in the morning.

 

We were then hit by heavy fusillade of fire-power from North Korean  soldiers dug  on along the forward       slopes   of hills on our right flank.

 

I could not see the enemy positions from inside the tank. My gunner was yelling at me to tell him where to aim the tank’s 75mm cannon. There was      only one thing to do.

tank-korean-war

 

I flung open the turret hatch, clambered out of the turret, braced my feet against the metal hull and fired  the big .50 caliber machine gun at the enemy positions.  

 

The machine gun had no gun shield and I was fully exposed to enemy fire that continued to strike my tank.

 

 I fired and aimed at the enemy foxholes and watched the big .50 caliber rounds tear up the ground around those positions. I saw some of the enemy fall while others fled  their  trenches.

 

 The sound of my fire apparently roused our pinned down infantry, who rallied and began to pour heavier fire onto the disorganized North Koreans. 

 

The North Koreans ran. Our men chased the retreating North Koreans into Singye whose defenders, two battalions, fled before our attack.

 

On the enemy side, we  counted FORTY-TWO (42) enemy dead. We estimated some 100 more could have been wounded. We lost one man, who was killed and a few wounded.

 

I later learned that this battle was witnessed by several high ranking officers from of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division and some foreign officers from atop the hill.  They later congratulated me.

 

I also received a  ‘’WELL DONE’’ from my battalion commander, Col. Mariano Azurin, and our Executive Officer, Major   Delfin Argao. I was awarded a battlefield   commendation for my role in the Battle of Miudong.

 

The_AFP_Gold_Cross_Medal (1)

 

Over 50 years  later, I was belatedly conferred the Philippines’ Gold Cross  Medal for this heroic combat feat. The Gold Cross is awarded only for gallantry in action and is the Philippines’ fourth highest military award.

 

THE BATTLE OF YULDONG

 

BATTLE-YULTONG-10TH

 

 After SIX (6) months since the Korean War broke out the Communist Chinese intervened militarily. On November 25, 1950, the People’s  Republic of China sent more than 200,000 men in what  it termed as the ‘’Chinese     People’s Volunteer Army’’ (the “CPV”) against the  United Nations Command (the “UNC”).

 

The CPV “volunteers’’ were battle hardened  regular soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army. They quickly defeated both the US Eight  Army and the US   Tenth Corps near  the border   of North    Korea and China.

 

Advancing southward, the CPV re-took Pyongyang and Seoul within the year.

 

The 10th BCT retreated with the UNC in this harsh winter of defeat, which men of the US Army derisively called ‘’The Big Bug Out’.

 

The 10th BCT spent its   first Christmas in Korea at the town of Suwon south of the Han River  during the retreat.

 

When the UNC launched its counterattack in February 1951, the 10th went on the offensive. In March and April 1951, the battalion was in continuous action, capturing hill after hill from the Communist Chinese.

 

By  April 14, 1951 the 10th was the northernmost of all UNC units. We were exhausted after close to two months of non-stop fighting but were in high morale. The 10th BCT was down to some 900 men.

 

Then came the great Battle of Yuldong.

 

The Battle of Yuldong is the greatest Filipino victory in the Korean War.

 

It was   one of many battles fought by the UNC in an effort to repel the biggest  offensive of the Korean War: the communist’s ‘’Great Spring  Offensive of 1951’’.

 

The CPV   and NKPA had massed some 400,000 men for this mammoth counter-attack. Their aim was to end the WAR  with a decisive communist   victory.

 

The 10th BCT mission was to defend a three-mile segment of Line Utah, the northernmost UNC   defensive line inside North Korea.

 

The enemy assault that triggered the Battle of Yuldong came under cover of darkness during the early dawn of April 23, 1951.

 

An entire Communist Chinese  army of 40,000 men struck hasty defensive firing positions, while there were only 900 Filipinos defending that line.

 

In hours of savage, close quarter-combat, we prevented the Communist   Chinese from overrunning our positions, thereby putting a fatal brake on the communist’s advance.

 

By 6:00 am of April 23, 1951, the 10th BCT was only one of three UNC units on the Western Front not overrun or wiped out by the tremendous Chinese    assault.

 

score-card-yultong-battle-new

 

In standing firm at Yuldong, the grossly outnumbered Filipinos helped prevent the Communists from winning  the Korean War.

 

 

 

 

 

As it turned out, the defeat of their Great Spring Offensive forced the communists to open peace      talks with the United Nations   Command.

 

During the Battle of Miudong and the Battle of Yuldong, I embraced and boldly professed and actuated the needed leadership traits to animate my men in the 10th BCT to action and eventually win the war.

 

Indeed, in any military mission the main and basic task of a leader is to ensure the success and the accomplishment of the mission as well as ensuring the welfare of his men.

 

 

I believe that I have done my best to measure up to those standards. In all those times, I never thought of FEAR anymore as there was no such time anymore to think about it. I instilled in my mind that I have to remain BRAVE,COURAGEOUS and LIONHEARTED.

 

I have been shot at and shelled. I have seen my friends die in battle and have killed my country’s enemies, in turn.

 

But by the grace of God, I am still here.

DAD-MAX-97TH-BDAY

 

I am now 97 years young, surrounded by a big family,  a total 62 loving family members that include my wife Mercy, my children, children-in-laws, grandchildren, grand-children in law, great grandchildren and the recently-born great great grandchild.

 

Mine has been a life well lived. It has been a purposeful and quite an exciting one.

 

   And I am a proud Filipino Soldier. Most important of all, I am a proud PEFTOKER.

 

As a post script to my Peftok career: On July 27, 2016, I received the FIRST TAEGEUK ORDER OF THE MILITARY MERIT MEDAL from the Prime Minister of South Korea, the highest military decoration for valor of South Korea.

 

taegeuk-medal
Photo shows SOKOR’s highest military decoration, the TAEGEUK Cordon.

I just learned recently that only FIFTEEN (15) personalities have received this honor from the South Korean government. 

 

Next to the United States of America, the Philippines is the second country that has reaped this MERIT MEDAL, more than once.

 

I was awarded in 2016, and another Filipino, who died in action in the KOREAN WAR, was also conferred  in 2018.  He is no other than my comrade-in-arms, the late Captain Conrado Yap.

 

In the last two decades, I have been involved as director of Peftok Veterans Association Inc. or PVAI.

 

In January of this year, I was elected as President of the Association.  In the twilight of my life, I commit to care for the living veterans, perpetuate our legacy and support a FREE KOREA. 

Live long and prosper.

Thank you very much. And good day to all!

 

 

3 thoughts on “Speech of Maj. Maximo P. Young, PA, Ret. before the COMMAND and GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, Philippines

  1. So precious to hear your dad’s story, a legacy that he will leave his family and our beloved country.

    Congratulations to Major Maximo Young and I wish him a good and long healthy life!

    I would love to meet him personally and talk to him about his comrade, my father, Pete De Las Alas.

    I’ll be visiting the Philippines this December and hope I can be given time to see him. Please me know. My info is below.

    Like

  2. Brody Wally, thank you so much for sharing Daddy Max’s inspiring speech. Every Filipino, every American…indeed all peoples of the free world owe him a debt of gratitude for the freedom we are enjoying. I feel privileged to be able to convey  — through you — mine and my family’s gratitude to your beloved Daddy Max, a genuine Filipino hero!Sent from my Galaxy Tab® A

    Like

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