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January 6, 2018

Official Report on the Investigation of the Geronimo Division, September 1946

The Geronimo Division was a guerrilla outfit operating out of the then-town of Lipa. Its request for official recognition was subsequently denied by the United States Army. In this document1, one Lt. Max Brabson, evidently tasked with investigation the claim for recognition by the Geronimo Division guerrilla unit, filed his report on the subject unit.

[p. 1]

18 September 1946

Report on 4th Battalion General Geronimo Div
East Central Luzon Guerrilla Area

In accordance with verbal instructions from Chief of Section, Guerrilla Affairs, G-3, AFWESPAC, Lieutenants Max L. Brabson and Eliseo Sta. Romana on 16 September 1946 proceeded to Lipa, Batangas to contact the 4th Battalion General Geronimo Division, in order to determine whether or not this organized should be recognized by the United States Army. The following report is a summary of the investigation and basis for the recommendation.

ALLEGED HISTORY

The 4th Battalion, General Geronimo Division, East Central Luzon Guerrilla Area, with a total of 827 officers and enlisted men under the command of Ceferino Melo, was formed by authority from Chief of Staff Manila Military District (MMD) 28 September 1942 in the vicinity of Lipa, Batangas. The battalion consists of Headquarters Company, Companies “A,” “B,” “C” and a medical unit. The entire unit totaled 42 officers and 785 enlisted men. None have previously been recognized.

During the early days of organization, the unit was primarily engaged in sabotage, intelligence and assistance to the civilian population. Communication lines and transportation facilities were interrupted and destroyed during June 1943. The first combat with the Japanese occurred when a home of the Makapili (Japanese spies) near Lipa was raided. Again, during November 1943, an engagement with the Japanese occurred at the foot of Malarayat Mountains. In this encounter, 12 Japanese were killed and several weapons were captured. During the year 1944, harassing of the Japanese in any way possible was the main activity. Also, during 1944, contact was made with other guerrilla units, in preparation for the coming of the American forces.

When the Americans liberated the outskirts of Lipa, Batangas, members of this unit attached themselves as guides, scouts and interpreters. Members also helped build bridges, construct roads and assisted in the procurement of supplies for the civilians and other guerrilla units.

FINDINGS

The following named persons are those interviewed by the contact team and their statements are the basis for the findings.

Lt Col Edwin P. Ramsey – USA (Overall Commander, ECLGA)
Col Wistrimundo Gregorio – Former Chief of Staff, MMD, ECLGA
Lt Col Ignacio G. Misenas – Co-organizer, ECLGA
Col Quintin Gallidon – Grla Staff 11th AB Div
Col. Alberto – Former G-2, MMD, ECLGA
Lt. Col. Ceferino Melo – CO 4th Bn Geronimo Div ECLGA
Vicente Virrey – ExO 4th Bn Geronimo Div ECLGA
Margarito Lumas – S-3 4th Bn Geronimo Div ECLGA
Apolonio Castillo – Capt CO “A” Co Geronimo Div ECLGA
Simon Lupac – Capt CO “B” Co Geronimo Div ECLGA
Antonio Javier – Capt CO “C” Co Geronimo Div ECLGA
Santiago Lacdao – Capt CO Med Unit Geronimo Div ECLGA
Leonardo Lindo – 1st Lt. 4th Bn Geronimo Div ECLGA
Amparo Lumbera – 1st Lt. 4th Bn Geronimo Div ECLGA



[p. 2]

Celia Infante – 1st Lt. 4th Bn Geronimo Div ECLGA
Florencio Gonzales – 1st Lt. 4th Bn Geronimo Div ECLGA
Anita Lumbera – 2nd Lt. 4th Bn Geronimo Div ECLGA
Baldomero Lirag – 2nd Lt. 4th Bn Geronimo Div ECLGA
Martin M. Ada – 2nd Lt. 4th Bn Geronimo Div ECLGA
Eduardo M Infante 2nd Lt. 4th Bn Geronimo Div ECLGA
Benjamin Agno – 2nd Lt. 4th Bn Geronimo Div ECLGA
Enrique Mercado – 1st Sgt. 4th Bn Geronimo Div ECLGA
Gregorio Atienza – 1st Sgt. 4th Bn Geronimo Div ECLGA
Nicomedes Amador – S/Sgt 4th Bn Geronimo Div ECLGA
Maria Mendoza – S/Sgt 4th Bn Geronimo Div ECLGA
Briccio Mercado – S/Sgt 4th Bn Geronimo Div ECLGA
Juan Virrey – Sgt 4th Bn Geronimo Div ECLGA
Pedro Silva – Sgt 4th Bn Geronimo Div ECLGA
Eusebio Mojado – Cpl 4th Bn Geronimo Div ECLGA
Nicomedes Perez – Cpl 4th Bn Geronimo Div ECLGA

Throughout the interview of this unit, when a member was asked where he lived, the answer was always “in the field” and upon further questioning, the members would state that they lived in the barrios surrounding Lipa.

A few claimed to have lived in the mountains for a short time. It appeared throughout the investigation that the members all had the same answers and story regarding their activities and accomplishments. Upon close questioning, the individuals would become confused and could not nor would not answer the question asked. Very few enlisted members, particularly privates, First Class Privates and Corporals, were present. The explanation was that the enlisted men were more interested in harvesting rice than in the investigation.

There was no evidence of communications with anyone presented to the investigating team. Messages and orders were supposedly carried by messenger in verbal form. Members had a very vague answer as to where the Headquarters were. Many of the activities claimed were gathering supplies, Anti-Jap propaganda, and the directing of civilian evacuees.

The unit claims no weapons in the year 1942 except Bolos; in the year 1943, they claim 10 rifles and 5 pistols in addition to bolos; in 1944, they claim 20 rifles, 10 pistols and bolos; in 1945, they claim 1MG, 1 trench mortar, 50 rifles, 20 pistols and bolos. They claim the majority of their weapons were given to the American soldiers as souvenirs and not turned in to any unit. Several men stated that they borrowed their weapons from friends, names unknown, and when the islands were liberated, the weapons were returned to their friends. When the unit was contacted, they displayed for the investigating officer one badly battered Jap MG, 2 rusty broken barrels of a Japanese submachine gun and rusty bayonet, all there as in evidence that they were guerrillas. All of the abovementioned weapons could be picked up today in practically any area where there was fighting during the liberation.

The unit claimed attachment to the 11th Airborne Division, yet any subordinate unit of the 11th Airborne Division was unknown to the members. When a subordinate unit was mentioned, they immediately claimed attachment to it. One officer whom they claimed attachment to was Major Schommer, who was in Guerrilla Affairs of the 11th AB Div and is known to all guerrillas in the area. None of the members could tell any duties they had while they were with the American.



[p. 3]

The First Aiders stated it was their duty to boost the morale of the American troops. There was no certificate, orders or any other documentary evidence of attachment shown to the contact team.

Any activities that might have been initiated by this unit would have been individual action and not [a] controlled operation by the commanding officer because he did not have a Headquarters and the members were not in contact with him. It appeared that during the occupation, if this unit did not exist, it was entirely passive because absolutely no pertinent information regarding activities was presented. All activities claimed were of practically no importance and could not be substantiated. It is believed the lay low policy was carried out to the fullest extent. Some members claimed to have raised their own food and prepared their own clothes, many claimed part time engagement at home.

The only documents presented were three induction papers issued in 1942. Any others than these were reported lost or destroyed. No documents pertaining to the unit could be produced.

A member of the Medical unit with the rank of 1st Lt. was asked what he would do for a broken leg and his answer was “I would give him medicine.” He had absolutely no knowledge of first aid but he claimed to have treated sick and wounded guerrillas for three years.

In the submitted history, it was stated that by authority of the Chief of Staff Manila Military District (MMD), the unit was organized. However, upon contacting Col. Gregorio, Chief of Staff, MMD, it was found that he had never heard of the unit. Col. Gregorio further stated that they, MMD, had no units outside of Manila and suburbs. Colonel Fausto Alberto, G-2, MMD, stated that he had never heard of this unit and knew nothing of it. He stated that ECLGA did not have any units in Batangas. Lt. Col. Edwin P. Ramsey, Overall Commander of ECLGA, did not know anything about this unit. To his knowledge, the unit never existed.

The desk Sergeant, Police force, and the Secretary to the Mayor of Lipa, Batangas stated that this unit did not exist. They further stated that PQOG and ROTC were the only units existing in the town of Lipa, Batangas. They were both members of the PQOG.

POLITICAL ASPECT

This unit does not appear to have any political affiliation or aspirations.

RECOMMENDATIONS

After careful consideration of the statements made by the present members and an analysis of the documents presented, it is recommended that the 4th Battalion, 143rd Inf General Geronimo Div, ECLGA be not favorably considered for recognition.

[Sgd.] MAX L. BRABSON
2nd Lt, Inf.

[Sgd.] ELISEO STA. ROMANA
1st Lt. Inf. PA.

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Notes and references:
1 “4th Bn, General Geronimo’s Div, MMD, ECLGA,” File No. 308-91, downloaded from PVAO.

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