The Rillo-Neri Unit was a guerrilla organization that was allegedly formed in the town of Balayan, and again allegedly by the authority coming from Col. Hugh Straughn, founder of the Fil-American Irregular Troops. It was supposed to have conducted intelligence work, kept peace and order and helped in the evacuation of the citizens of Balayan, Lemery and Tuy. Its combat team was also said to have participated in combat during the liberation of Batangas. While this guerrilla group failed to obtain full recognition from the United States Army, 130 of its members were recognized as a combat team and another 400 gained recognition with another guerrilla outfit, the Blue Eagle Brigade. In this page1
is a selection of documents relevant ONLY to the recognized combat team of the Rillo-Neri Unit which had been renamed as the “Lipa Guerrilla Hq Combat Team.”
OFFICE OF THE COMMANDING GENERAL
GSCPU 091 PI/ 2834
2 DEC 1947
: Revision of Recognition Date, Lipa Guerrilla
Headquarters Combat Team
: Chief of Staff
Armed Forces of the Philippines
Camp Murphy, Quezon City
1. The unit listed below is recognized by the Commanding General, Philippines-Ryukyus Command, as having been an authorized element of the Philippine Army in the service of the Armed Forces of the United States on the date appearing in the column headed “Revised Recognition Date.”
||Present Recognition Date
||Revised Recognition Date
|Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team
||1 April 1945
||5 March 1945
2. a. The strength of the Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team between the dates 5 March 1945 and 1 April 1945 is as follows:
|5 March 1945
b. Casualties included and recognized in a separate casualty roster will be entitled to pay whether or not their names appear on original rosters of the Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team.
3. Under the provisions of Executive Order No. 21 by the President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, dated 26 October 1944, the status of the members of this unit during the period above specified was that of officers and enlisted men of the Philippine Army.
4. This letter supersedes all previous communications relative to the recognition of the subject unit. It further constitutes the final determination of and action upon the period of official recognition of the Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team.
FOR THE COMMANDING GENERAL:
R. E. CANTRELL
ASSISTANT ADJUTANT GENERAL
Lt Col Wallace M Hanes:
1. The Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team, consisting of 58 members recognized by supplement No. 3 to letter, Headquarters Sixth Army, dated 18 May 1945, has been favorably considered for revision of present recognition date. Unit was initially recognized as of 1 April 45. Revision is recommended to 5 March 45.
2. The unit fulfills the requirements of the five basic points for recognition on the date and in the strength shown. This is a reconsideration of a previous unfavorable decision for revision (See TLR).
3. Recommend that casualty claims previously submitted be considered individually.
4. This constitutes final action on the period of official recognition on the Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team.
1st Lt Kenneth H. Neubauer
|Concur: Capt J O Keider<br />Chief, Revision Sec
|Concur: Capt E R Curtis<br />Chief, Unit Branch
REPORT ON RECONSIDERATION FOR REVISION OF DATES OF RECOGNITION
OF THE LIPA GUERRILLA HEADQUARTERS COMBAT TEAM
19 November 1947
On 19 November 1947, 1st Lt Kenneth H Neubauer made a thorough and complete restudy of the unit file of the Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team. The unit commander was contacted prior to submitting this report on the subject organization.
The subject unit was initially investigated for revision of dates of recognition by 1st Lt Kenneth H Neubauer on 1 August 1947. A report of findings is attached to this report. (Incl 1)
A letter from this headquarters dated 5 August 1947, notified Mr. Horacio Ilagan, Commanding Officer of the Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team, of the unfavorable decision rendered on the subject unit in regard to revision of dates.
During the latter part of August 1947, Mr. Ilagan visited this office to request reconsideration of the unfavorable decision rendered regarding revision of dates of the subject unit. Mr. Ilagan at this time presented additional evidence to be used for any future action which might be taken on the Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team.
On 8 September 1947, a letter requesting reconsideration was received by this headquarters from Ilagan together with additional evidence to support Ilagan’s claim for revision.
2. ALLEGED HISTORY: (See unit file)
The reinvestigation of the Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team is primarily concerned with the period 5 March 1945 to 1 April 1945 for which there is evidence of attachment to the 158th RCT and to various elements of the 11th Airborne Division.
Previous to the unit’s purported attachment and throughout the entire occupation period, the unit showed insufficient continuity of service to warrant any revision of recognition dates. (Incl 1, page 2)
a. The Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team was originally organized as an integral part of the Rillo-Neri Unit. As indicated by a previous report of investigation (Incl: 1) activities of the Rillo-Neri Unit, were not of such a nature to warrant guerrilla recognition. Of the many orders which concern this unit, it is noted that the organization was referred to as the Rillo-Neri Unit, or Combat Company, Rillo-Neri Unit. Official orders later changed the name of the Rillo-Neri Combat Company to the Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team; therefore, this report will refer to the subject unit as the Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team.
b. Evidence recently submitted by Horacio Ilagan, which [the] Guerrilla Affairs Division did not possess at the time, of the initial investigation for revision of dates, indicates that the Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team was attached to the 158th RCT, and the 187th RCT, 11the Airborne Division, prior to its present official recognition date, 1 April 1945.
c. As indicated in the previous report of investigation, the unit claims to have been active from 31 January 1945 throughout the liberation period. This claim is advanced by the Commanding Officer, Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team, who bases his contention on orders sent by the Commanding Officer of the Rillo-Neri Unit by Major Vanderpool and Captain Schommer. There is no evidence to substantiate the claim that the Combat Company of the Rillo-Neri Unit was the unit these orders pertained to. Guerrilla activity cannot be claimed by the Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Company by orders which were sent to the overall Rillo-Neri organization. It has been determined that the activities of the overall Rillo-Neri Unit were not sufficient in nature to warrant guerrilla recognition during the period 3 January 1945 until the arrival of the 11th Airborne Division. No evidence has been presented to warrant recognition of the Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team, an integral part of the Rillo-Neri Unit during the above period.
d. On 19 February 1945, a memo from Headquarters 11th Airborne Division, in substance stated that only guerrilla units authorized and inducted by Headquarters 11th Airborne Division (through Major Vanderpool) will be recognized. (Part 2, Incl 2) Following this order, Capt Schommer (U.S. Army Liaison Officer) called a conference of representatives of various guerrilla units in the area for the purpose of attaching them to the United States Army Forces.
On 22 February, the Rillo-Neri Unit was told to organize a staff and one combat company. Combat company, which at this time was designated the Rillo-Neri Combat Company ultimately became the Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team. On 2 march 1945, the roster of the combat company was submitted to Headquarters 11th Airborne Division. (Incl 3) It is noted that the roster lists more individuals than we're finally recognized. Subsequent to the submission of this roster, members of the combat team were attached and utilized by the U.S. Forces, but not in the strength listed on this roster. This accounts for the recognition of only approximately 60 members of the unit.
e. On 4 March 1947, an order signed by Major Bleiden, S-2, 158th Regimental Combat Team, to the CO 187th Regiment, 11th Airborne Division states that certain guerrilla units (Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team included) pass to the control of the CO 158th RCT per VCOG 11th Airborne Division, defective 0011 5 March 1945. (Incl 4)
f. The Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team operated with the 158th RCT from 5 March to 15 March 1947. Combat operations which the unit participated in were as follows: Himalas Garrison at Balayan, Batangas; Mt. San Piro, Balayan, Batangas; Mt. Item, Calatagan, Batangas; and mopping up operations in the towns of Balayan and Calaca, Batangas. Though there are no attachment papers from officers of the 158th RCT other than the original attachment paper signed by Major Bleiden, it does not appear feasible that Ilagan could have been able to name individuals of the various American Army Units whom it is known were in charge of these various operations without having been personally in contact with them. Further evidence to substantiate the unit’s claim of attachment to the 158th RCT is Lt Col Vanderpool’s letter to this headquarters in which he states: “The Rillo-Neri Unit, (Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team) was attached to the 158th Regimental Combat Team when that organization was operating under the 11th Airborne Division… It later reverted to one of the 11th Airborne Regiments.” (Incl 5)
g. On 15 March 1945, the Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team was ordered to Cuenca, Batangas to report to the CO of the 187th Para-Glider Regt. It was placed under the supervision of a Lt. Parker, Guerrilla Affairs Officer of the 187th Regiment, and assigned a sector around Mt Dito, San Jose, Batangas. The unit remained under Lt Parker’s supervision until the 26th of March 1945. On 26 March 1945, Major Schommer ordered the unit to report to a Lt A P McDonald at Guerrilla Headquarters, Alitagtag, Batangas, and from Alitagtag, the unit proceeded to and was stationed at Taal, Batangas.
There is no signed attachment paper to conclusively prove that the unit was attached to the 187th P/G Regiment and under the supervision of Lt Parker, but Ilagan has such an extensive knowledge of the activities of the 187th P/G Regiment and is so specific in regards to dates and areas of activities of his unit with the 11th Airborne Division it is unlikely that the evidence recently submitted is of late manufacture. Lt Col Vanderpool’s testimony in corroboration of attachment to the 11th Airborne Division and to various regiments of the 11th Airborne Division is conclusive enough to support the claimed attachment of the unit to the 158th RCT and 187th Regiment previous to its present recognition date.
h. The Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team was attached to various units of the 11th Airborne Division during April, May, June, and July 1945. Since the unit was recognized as of 1 April 1945, it is necessary to discuss attachments and activities after the initial date of recognition.
i. Evidence which is of importance to the unit is the re-designation of the unit from the Rillo-Neri Unit to the Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team. On 9 May 1945, Guerrilla Headquarters, 11th Airborne Division, officially re-designated the Rillo-Neri Unit to Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team. The effective date of change of unit designation was 1 April 1945. The order was signed by A P McDonald, 1st Lt CAC, USA, Guerrilla Coordinator. (Incl 6)
It is recommended that the recognized portion of the Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team, recognized as of 1 April 1945, have its official date of recognition revised to 5 March 1945.
[Sgd.] KENNETH H NEUBAUER
1st Lt., CAC
1 – Revision Report by Lt Neubauer
2 – Memo from 11th AB Div. dtd 19 Feb 45
3 – Roster of Combat Company submitted to the 11th AB Div
4 – Attachment order signed by Major Bleiden
5 – Letter from Lt Col Vanderpool
6 – Unit Designation of Lipa Guerrilla Hq Combat Team
Report on the Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters
25 July 1947
1. 1st Lt. Kenneth H Neubauer investigated the unit files, report of investigation, and disinterested persons to determine whether the Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team deserves revision of its present recognition date. The Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team was recognized by letter, Hq. USAFFE, FEPA 370.64, dated 1 April 1945.
2. ALLEGED HISTORY: (See attached unit file.)
3. FINDINGS: a. The following persons were interviewed, and their statements are reflected in the findings.
1st Lt. Marion C. Allbright
2nd Lt. Pete C. Breaz
2nd Lt. Bruce Bromley Jr.
2nd Lt. Raul de River
Guerrilla Aff. Div.
Guerrilla Aff. Div.
Guerrilla Aff. Div.
Guerrilla Aff. Div.
b. The Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team was ordered to organize on 19 Feb. 1945, with Horacio L. Ilagan as the commanding officer. The authority for activation of this unit was made by memo from Headquarters, Guerrilla Forces, Tagaytay City, dated 19 Feb. 1945, by order of General Swing. (Incl 2 page 1) It was attached for duty with the 11th Airborne Division and subsequently recognized with the strength of 89 officers and men.
Previous to the Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team’s activation, its members were part of the Rillo-Neri Unit. The Rillo-Neri Unit was not favorably considered for recognition during the initial investigation conducted by Lt. Max L. Brabson, formerly of the Guerrilla Affairs Division. A second investigation conducted by Lt. Bruce Bromley Jr., Pete C. Breaz, and Raul de Rivera, of this division, during Feb. 1947, again rendered an unfavorable decision for recognition. A reconsideration of the unit was undertaken by Lt. Marion C. Allbright of this division during July 1947, and for the third time, the unit was not favorably considered for recognition. The above facts are presented on the Rillo-Neri Unit, as the Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team, is an integral part of the Rillo-Neri Unit. (Incl. 1)
The combat company of the Rillo-Neri Unit (Lipa Grla Hq. Combat Team) was organized in February 1945. From the unit history, it states that the Lipa Guerrilla Hq. Combat Team personnel were from the Rillo-Neri Unit (Incl 2, page 2). Since the activities of the Rillo-Neri Unit did not warrant recognition, the members of the combat team, who were recruited from the various elements of the overall organization, have no basis for revision.
Activities claimed by the Rillo-Neri Unit which necessarily would be claimed by the combat team are as follows: (Incl. 3)
a. Gathering of arms and ammunition.
b. Bolstering morale of the people.
c. Sabotage and elimination of Japanese spies.
d. Contributions to needy families.
e. Maintenance of peace and order.
f. Intelligence reports.
The gathering of arms and ammunition has been refuted by the reports of investigation by Lt’s. Brabson and Bromley. Lt. Brabson states that practically none of the men interviewed had weapons during the occupation. Lt’s Bromley and Brabson both state in their reports that many of the men deserted the unit because of its passive activities.
Though contributing to the needy families in the area is a commendable act, it cannot be considered guerrilla activity nor can bolstering the morale of the people be classified as guerrilla activity. Maintenance of peace and order would be classified as home guard duties.
Alleged activities in regard to intelligence patrols and sabotage are not substantiated by sufficient evidence. There is no record of any positive action taken as a result of this activity. This claim is further refuted by Cmdr. Rowe who states that guerrilla organizations in Batangas were small and of no worth. It is apparent that since this unit was a passive organization, its claims are highly exaggerated.
The unit file contains orders, memorandums etc. from Major Vanderpool and Capt Schommer, coordinators of guerrilla activity in this area. The unit’s claims because of these orders is not substantiated. In many cases, such orders were distributed to many purported guerrilla organizations. Evidence of activity cannot be claimed simply by the possession of such orders. This fact is further substantiated by the fact that the Rillo-Neri Unit was not favorably considered by three investigations made by this Headquarters.
From the evidence presented, it is apparent that the Lipa Guerrilla Hq. Combat Team did not exist previous to its attachment to the 11th Airborne Division. Until the Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team was organized, the members of the subject unit were from various components of the Rillo-Neri Unit. As a component of the Rillo-Neri Unit, insufficient evidence has been presented to warrant any further dates of recognition.
POLITICAL ASPECTS: This unit does not appear to have political affiliations or aspirations.
RECOMMENDATIONS: It is recommended that the Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Tem be not favorably considered for revision of its present date of recognition.
[Sgd.] KENNETH H NEUBAUER
1st Lt. CAC
11th Airborne Division
9 May 1945
: Official Unit Designations
: Capt. Horacio L. Ilagan
CO Rillo-Neri Unit
1. In accordance with instructions from higher headquarters, the Rillo-Neri Unit is designated as the Lipa Guerrilla Hq Combat Team effective 1 April 1945.
2. See footnote of the letter of Maj. Jack P Barton dated 5 May 1945.
Lt. A. P. MCDONALD
1st Lt. CAC, AA, U.S.A.
8 September 1947
The Commanding General
Philrycom, APO 707
Attention: Guerrilla Affairs Division, G-3
1. Enclosed, you will find a brief summary of the accomplishments of the Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team (Rillo-Neri Unit) as narrated in the Unit History and the supporting papers. This brief is entitled: “Evolution of the Supporting Papers to Prove the TRUTH of the Accomplishments of the Rillo-Neri Unit as Narrated in the Unit History.”
2. The purpose of this brief is to help the good office of the Guerrilla Affairs Division to arrive at the correct date for the Arrears in Pay of the Guerrilla Hqs Combat Team (Rillo-Neri Unit). It is feared that because of the volume of papers submitted, the fact that those supporting papers were either submitted at different times or by different persons, and finally because the RILLO-NERI UNIT and the LIPA GUERRILLA HQ COMBAT TEAM (Rillo-Neri Unit) had separate files, your office will not be able to appreciate the History of the Unit together with the Supporting Papers.
3. Regarding the question asked by the American 1st Lt assigned as the Investigating Officer of the Unit by Maj Murray: “Captain, do you mean that your Unit should be recognized and paid from 1942?”
4. Before I reply to that question, allow me to relate the true story about the 15 American soldiers this Unit was able to take care [of] during the resistance movements in the Philippines from 1942 up to 1944.
a. Four (4) Americans (See Exhibits “4” and “5” by Capt E. D. Whitcomb; and Exhibit “6” by Maj William F Harris) by the grace of God were suddenly found among us in our CP at Patugo, Tuy in June 1942. These Americans were not invited by our Unit to stay in our CP. But from that day, a DUTY was imposed upon the members of the Unit – not for the sake of PAY but for the sake of HUMANITY – to take care of these sick Americans. These Americans were exhausted – both physically and morally – after they had crossed the ocean from Corregidor to Looc; they travelled from Looc to Nasugbu; and from Nasugbu to Tuy proper; and finally, from Tuy proper to our CP at Patugo, Tuy near the foot of Mt Batulao.
b. It will be useless for me to state that if these Americans were able to find a better, or as protected as our place; a place where the necessities of life could be met; I am sure these exhausted and sick Americans would not have continued their travel to our CP at Patugo, Tuy. But these Americans were determined to look for a place where security was assured; where food was plentiful; where the people were 100% pro-American. They found the place in our CP at Patugo, Tuy.
c. These four Americans were cared and nourished with the food and medicine given by the Lopez family. But they were guarded day and night by the members of the Lipa Guerrilla Hq Combat Team (Rillo-Neri Unit) for 6 weeks until these Americans were strong enough to proceed on their journey to Australia. Their desire to continue to Australia was accomplished on 10 August 1942.
d. I shall do an injustice to the people of Patugo, Tuy if I do not add in this letter the peril that the entire barrio of Patugo, Tuy was undergoing all the time these Americans were being sheltered. The cruelty, barbarity and inhumanity of the Japanese need not be mentioned here because the entire civilian world knew them already.
e. The Unit had done its duty. The first American who reached Australia after the fall of Bataan and Corregidor was no other than one of the first 4 Americans escorted by this Unit to freedom, Corporal Reid Chamberlain (See Exhibit “6” Paragraph 3). Cpl Reid Chamberlain of the 4th Marines [was] awarded the DISTINGUISHED SERVICE CROSS by no other than General MACARTHUR himself.
f. Again, GOD wished further that this Unit should save more Americans. On September 1942, another group of Americans sought the haven of our CP at Patugo, Tuy. Among these were 3 Americans, two of them are alive today. These Americans were cared [for] from September 1942 up to 31 January 1944 when the Unit escorted them to Maj Lawrence Phillips’ Headquarters in Mindoro on 31 January 1944:
Lt Robert Kramer was assigned as Engineer in the City Hall, Manila in the early part of the liberation and left for the United States in June 1946. He was promoted to Major.
Sgt Patrick Melody is at present a lecturer at West Point on the subject of Guerrilla Warfare.
Lt Eugene Jorgensen was killed with Maj Phillips at Abra de Ilog in the latter part of 1944.
g. Finally, for the third time, GOD directed this Unit to care [for] and save more Americans. On 21 September and 6 November of the year 1944, two American officers-flyers were rescued by the Unit. (I showed to the American 1st Lt the OLD SLIP of paper signed by one of the officers.) These Americans were escorted to Mindoro on 15 December 1944 to Lt Commander Rowe’s headquarters at Abra de Ilog, Mindoro.
Lt William Elwood Millar, JG 0-158079
Lt William S Rising, JG 0-251421
Arm 2/C John Ward Montgomery, 6345666
h. WORDS OF COMMENDATION FROM TWO USA GENERALS:
“It was through the loyalty of these people that invaluable trained combat personnel were saved from the hands of the Japanese and were able to return
to combat again to the enemy, and help to bring about the peace that is now ours.” By Maj General K S WOLFE, 6th
Air Force, APO 710.
“The Commanding General takes great pleasure in forwarding this commendation. In protecting and caring for American soldiers despite the ever-present threat of drastic Japanese punishment, these citizens of Balayan, like so many other people of the Philippines during the dark days of 1942, demonstrated the highest type of courage and loyalty.” By Brigadier General D R HUTCHINSON, Chief of Staff, Far East Air Forces, APO 925.
5. Therefore, my reply to that American 1st Lt assigned by Maj Murray to investigate the Unit is clear:
“The Unit had done its duty to HUMANITY when it cared for those 15 Americans. We did not invite these Americans to stay with us. But when GOD had placed their faith – nay, their lives – in our hands, we did our duty with sincerity as well as in our humbleness. We cared [for] and nourished these Americans. We knew that we risked our own lives, for we knew that death was our reward if ever one of those 15 Americans was caught by the Japanese. Thank God that two good GENERALS of the UNITED STATES ARMY were glad to say words of appreciation for us. THOSE WORDS OF THOSE TWO GENERALS ARE ENOUGH REWARDS FOR US. We had done our duty, and if such will be repeated again, I know we will still not fail HUMANITY. We did our DUTY not because of PAY but for the sake of HUMANITY.”
“Lt we don’t care whether we will be paid or not for our services for these Americans. In your moment of decision regarding the setting back for the Arrears in Pay of the Unit, please do not forget the fact that we do not claim pay for our services to those Americans we had escorted to freedom. But please, in your decision, do not forget that at least we expect you to say the same words as the two UNITED STATES ARMY GENERALS. Say “THANK YOU” for having cared for these 15 Americans from June 1942 up to 15 December 1944.”
6. Accomplishments well done. At least 7 Americans out of 15 Americans we had cared [for] and escorted to freedom are still living and can [be] witnesses for the TRUTH of these accomplishments. Then FOUR (4) former GUERRILLA COORDINATORS from the United States Army had left written letters or certifications regarding the activities of the LIPA GUERRILLA HQS COMBAT TEAM (RILLO-NERI UNIT), to wit:
1. Lt Col JAY D VANDERPOOL – 2304 40th Street NW Washington, DC.
2. Lt Commander GEORGE F ROWE – 5th Floor, Filipinas Bldg. Plaza Moraga, Manila.
3. Capt ARTHUR P McDONALD – 2613 Federal Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
4. Capt. C. SCHOMMER – (Killed in action at Cuenca, Batangas with the rank of Maj as CO of 187th)
7. Among other things narrated in the HISTORY of the UNIT, I stated that [the] LIPA GUERRILLA HQS COMBAT TEAM (RILLO-NERI UNIT) was organized on [a] MILITARY FOOTING in January, 1943 (See Unit History on Page 4 Paragraph 5).
8. I do not ask for more. But for the following:
COMBAT COMPANY – 144 EM and 6 Officers
UNIT STAFF – 8 Officers
Date of Recognition – January 1943 up to 19 September 1945.
[Sgd.] HORACIO L ILAGAN
Letter – “Evaluation of Supporting Papers ……….”
Exhibits – “1” to “9” inclusive.
(Note: Exhibit “1” Original Copy not yet submitted.)
Notes and references:
“Rillo-Neri (Lipa Guerrilla Headquarters Combat Team),” File No. 110-9, online at PVAO.