Vanderpool’s Letter to Lt. Grant Wilcox on the Merits of Guerrilla Claims - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Vanderpool’s Letter to Lt. Grant Wilcox on the Merits of Guerrilla Claims


Col. Jay D. Vanderpool was the Liaison Officer sent by Headquarters, Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA) Command to southern Luzon, including Batangas, to coordinate guerrilla activities in the area in preparation for the Allied invasion. Transcriptions of a selection of his communications either with guerrilla units or offices of the United States Army are compiled in this section. In this page is a transcription1 of a letter he sent to a Lt. Grant Wilcox of the Office of the Chief of Claims Service about the guerrillas in Luzon.
Maj. Jay D. Vanderpool
Left: Col. Vanderpool. Image credit:  ARSOF History. Right: Filipino soldiers being inspected. Image credit: US National Archives.

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2304 40th Street
Washington, D.C.
27 September 1947

Commanding General
Philippines-Ryukyus Command
APO 707 (Manila)

Mr. Grant S. Wilcox
Assistant Director, Team #2
Office of the Chief of Claims Service

Dear Sir:

I am in receipt of your letter of the 16th of September 1947 in which you have outlined the problems confronting your office in deciding the merits of the cases of claims for compensation by the combat resistance forces and, now, by the men and women who assisted by rendering labor service. I am glad to offer my unofficial opinion in answer to your query.

It has been my practice to confirm in writing to your office the statements of service made by the former guerrilla commanders when I had definite recollection of their activities. Despite the large number of claims which I have sent back to you, there is even a larger number of such claims on which I have taken no action. There are a few more that will come in to you after I have had a chance to discuss the merits of the cases with Lt Col Henry Mueller and Lt Col Douglas Quandt (former G-2 and Chief of Staff of the 11th Airborne Division). The majority of these requests will be ignored.

The number of men who have filed claims for compensation has not come as a surprise to me. This [is] due, in large, to the fact that during the period immediately prior to the landing operations, all commanders and intelligence officers were concentrating upon obtaining the full support of the Filipino people during the combat phase. Undoubtedly, many leaders made unwarranted and unofficial promises to the people in order to obtain their support and, further, to obtain individual followers. As the day of the landing drew near and more citizens joined one resistance movement or another. Finally, when the 1st Cavalry and the 11th Airborne Divisions came into Manila, every person in the Manila area belonged to at least one guerrilla movement.

There was a practice by actual guerrilla fighters and by those who were politically minded to sign up as many thousands of persons as possible in order that they would themselves carry more prestige. The citizens were motivated by a desire to show their fealty to the Philippines and to the United States. The more than they had played with the

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Japanese during the Occupation, the more anxious they were to show that they were among the leaders of the resistance movements. I am firmly convinced that some of the major organizations in downtown Manila did not do a thing for the liberation of the Philippines except talk until the day they came in contact with our troops.

After we had actually moved in and were doing street fighting in the city, I had “guerrilla generals” come to me to offer their commands in our service. These commands were usually reported to number several thousands of “guerrillas.” My first question was to determine the number of rifles that they were able to put into the line. This was usually eight or ten. I would take these men with rifles and stick them in one of the rifle companies. The “general” was then told that if he wanted to assist in the attack, that the best thing that he could do was to turn out 500 or a 1000 men to help feed the refugees, care for the wounded, and to do road construction to keep our lines of communication open. The above is undoubtedly known to your office already, however.

I never paid, offered to pay, or promised future payment to any laborer, or guerrilla for that matter. I landed with two hundred thousand dollars in good money. This was left with Bernard Anderson except for ten thousand dollars which I carried along in case of an emergency need. When the landing was effected, I still had nearly eight thousand dollars in my belt. The other had been spent for food only.

It was my philosophy then, and still is, that they were going to benefit just [as] much from the liberation of the Philippines as I was. The immediate effect would help them more than it would me as we still had to go on up to Japan. Every time that the subject of money was brought up, which was quite often, I asked them whether they were interested in making money or were they interested in liberating their homeland from a tyrannical oppressor. At the various commanders’ meetings, it was my practice to remind them that they were fighting for their own country just as much as they were for the United States and further that the Philippines was just one more damn string of islands on our step ladder to Japan. They were reminded often by myself that we could, and would, whip the Japs whether the Filipinos ever lifted a hand to help us. And again, I would not know what the attitude of the American people would be if they would not even lift their arms to help overthrow the enemy whom they professed to hate with such passion.

Reference the labor question south of Manila, it is very true that we were quite arbitrary in our recruiting of labor for take that would assist us by relieving trained U.S. soldiers for combat duty. The resistance leaders were most cooperative in rounding up men for this. Reference the large labor details that we employed down on the landing beach at Nasugbu, they were recruited from volunteers. These volunteer units came in to report for tactical missions. They usually had about

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one rifle for each twenty men. They expected to be issued a carbine, ammunition, shoes, and “C” rations. When they reported in, I would line up the column and tell the commander to march them down to report to the Beachmaster. They had volunteered for service and this was the way that they could be of most assistance. We turned out thousands to work on the roads which we required for tactical operations. These roads should have been repaired several years before, anyway, so they were just doing something that a good citizen should do for his community.

When I received the letter from Calixto Gasilao, I assumed that you were trying to determine the amount of payment due for labor services. The letter written verifies that he did furnish certain labor services for us. This, he did, and it was of considerable assistance.

If I may express an unsolicited opinion, it is my opinion that no laborer should be paid a single centavo unless he received a serious combat injury during the course of such work. They did not have any work to do at that time and any labor that they may have contributed should be adjudged to be a service to their country. There is a noticeable tendency upon the part of the Filipinos to forget that they were working for the liberation of their own fatherland as much as they were for the United States. For their efforts, they have had returned to them the rule of their own country. Any citizen who is not willing to contribute a few weeks’ labor for this reward is not deserving of the privileges of a free man.

Aside from the above, it would be impossible for any board to determine the relative amount of effort expended by each individual in the Islands and reward him appropriately. If one organization is paid for labor, a precedence will be set which will arouse hundreds of thousands of claims based upon every possible pretext. I recommend, as an individual, that if no labor payments have been made to date, that no precedence be established that will again bring in millions of individual and group claims for services.

It is still my practice to verify the claims of individuals and organizations who were actually engaged in combat operations. The exceedingly large number of guerrillas is absolutely excessive. However, I also know that the men who were out in the field doing actual combat work were not in [a] position to present their claims whereas those near the city who had no combat assignment, no arms, little organization, much rank and no particular desire to close with the enemy, devoted their time and efforts to building a large unit for ultimate recognition and payments of high salaries.

The very nature of underground warfare makes it impossible to determine those persons who actually contributed the most. My opinions

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are based upon my knowledge of those men who were actually committed to action under my orders or worked with me prior to the landing operations.

If I may add another unsolicited opinion, it was observation that the wild, unruly, semi-bandits were often the best fighting men when we employed them alongside of the U.S. soldiers. These men, many of whom were unpopular due to their practice of brigandage, were of the venturesome type who were willing to stake all on the game. The God-fearing, law-abiding units were more interested in obtaining more rifles, shoes, and “C” rations than they were engaging the enemy. They were afraid of the Japs during the occupation and still were when the fighting started. I note, however, that they are not remiss in submitting long lists of “guerrillas” for back payments. It is for this reason that I deliberately concealed my address from the various units. I had no desire to become engaged in the controversial issue when it was at its peak.

These opinions may or may not be of value to you in your assessment of the cases under consideration. They are offered in answer to your request contained in [the] letter referred to above. If I may be of any service to you or your office at any time, do not hesitate to call upon me. I will send the few cases that I have which are worthy of consideration and after that, it is hoped that we will all be able to consider this closed. It is inevitable that many deserving men will never be recognized and that many fast-talkers will receive compensation. It is hoped that the men who feel slighted will not become embittered but will appreciate the impossibility of the task.

Sincerely yours,

/s/ Jay D. Vanderpool
/t/ Jay D. Vanderpool


Capt., Cav.

Notes and references:
1 “Hunters-ROTC Guerrillas,” Box 258, Entry 1094, Philippine Archive Collection, Record Group 407, online at the United States National Archives.

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