WWII Hero, Manong Leo Giron was secretly dropped on a beach in Northern Luzon, Philippines via Submarine to be the "eyes and ears" of General Douglas MacArthur and to ultimately help free his homeland from Imperial Japan.
An Escrimador and part of the infamous 1st Filipino Infantry Regiment he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for "meritorious achievement in ground operations against the enemy in the pacific theatre of operations".
Trained at Camp San Luis Obispo and Fort Ord, California USA, Giron was deployed to New Guinea then moved to Camp X near Brisbane, Australia.
He was a valuable asset because he became an expert on radio communications, morse code, cryptography and visual communication and was fluent in English, and Filipino dialects.
At Camp X, Giron and some others were ordered to a briefing at General Douglas MacArthur's headquarters.
The General told them...
"Boys, I selected you to do a job a General can't do. You have the training to do a job that no one else can do. You are going home to our country, the Philippines (yours and my homeland). You'll serve as my eyes, my ears and my fingers and you'll keep me informed of what the Japanese are doing. You will tell me how to win this war by furnishing me with this information which I could not obtain in any other way. Good luck and there will be shining bars waiting for you in Manila."
On August 12, 1944 Giron was moved to Fort Darwin, where the US Submarine Sting Ray was waiting. In route to the Philippines, the Submarine was fired on by torpedoes in the Celebes Sea but was able to out-maneuver them at full speed. Navigating around Northern Luzon looking for a good place land, the sub was spotted by radar.
The submarine was also damaged slightly by a Japanese plane dropping depth charges but fortunately, by nightfall, the plane gave up. They headed for shore on Caonayan Beach on trial boats along with rubber boats carrying two tons of cargo. Two large Japanese convoys passed causing large waves that created trouble for the cargo boats.
Also, it was getting too hot, so the sub had to leave before being able to unload the other 13 tons of cargo and ten other men. The Captain offered to turn around and pick up the Filipino American troops, because things weren't going according to the plan. But the Filipino-American soldiers said "We are in our homeland now. No thank you. We will stay."
His battalion's slogan was "Bahala Na" which means "Leave it to God".
Once on land, they moved the cargo and hid behind some bushes just above the beach. Two squads of Japanese soldiers came to patrol the beach. They opened fire with sub machine guns killing 15 Japanese soldiers but the others escaped.
Afterward, Giron and the other American's made sure all 15 Japanese were dead with bolos then civilian villagers helped them to bury the bodies in shallow graves on the beach. A villager dragged a tree branch along the beach with a Caribou to cover the tracks.
This would be the first encounter with the enemy that Giron would face but it would definitely not be the last. For almost a full year Giron moved throughout Luzon, mostly by foot through mountainous terrain and came into close quarters combat with Japanese soldiers on several occasions.
He fought in the Jungles alongside other American soldiers and Filipino Guerillas. Because the Jungles were thick and sometimes the fighting took place in the dark, they often wouldn't see the enemy until they were in close range.
So, the fighting would often be hand to hand with bolos (swords) verses the bayonets and Samurai swords of the Japanese. Even the Japanese knew enough to not shoot in the dark, for fear of shooting their own men.
In one encounter with the Japanese, Giron was with two platoons of soldiers and a few non-combatants whose duty was to protect the trails leading up a hill at Kiangan. They would use a wedge formation of three men on each trail with one man in the front (point man) and one on either side of him but slightly behind.
Giron was point man. He chose the highest trail so that the Japanese would be tired by the time they reached them and so when injured or killed they would roll and slide down the muddy trail and away from them.
It was a rainy night in June and General Yamashita (known as the 'Tiger of Malaya' for his strength against the Allied forces in the Pacific) had chosen Kiangan as their last stand. They knew when the Japanese were coming because they would charge positions Bansai style yelling and screaming the whole way.
Giron was attacked simultaneously with a Samurai sword straight in front of him and a bayonet slightly to his left. He parried the bayonet with his left hand and blocked the sword with his bolo, slashed the bayonet man on the hip and cut through the Samurai swordsman's triceps, as he attacked with a backhand strike.
Giron moved forward and the two men in the back finished them off. Then came another attacker with a Samurai sword. Giron, performed an inside block and slashed the leg, dropping him. They heard a lot of clanking below and the screams of Japanese soldiers. The battle was won and soon, so was the war.
On September 2nd 1945, U.S. armed forces officers, Major-General Robert S. Beightler, Major-General Leo Donovan, Brigadier-General Robert S. McBride, Jr., Colonel Ernest A. Barlow accepted the surrender of Japanese general Tomoyuki Yamashita at Kiangan, Northern Luzon.