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Alamo Scout Leader dies at 82

Discussion in 'Veteran's Forum' started by CarlosDJackal, Aug 10, 2005.

  1. CarlosDJackal


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    Dec 10, 2000
    This is a couple of months old, but while doing a little research about the Cabanatuan Raid in 1945 (the movie: The Great Raid is based on this), I came across the "Alamo Scouts Forum". It also looks like General Ileto was a student of my Father's just prior to his entering the Military Academy.

    RIP to a great warrior and true hero.

    RAFAEL Ileto, the general who strongly opposed dictator Ferdinand Marcos' declaration of martial law in 1972, then served as secretary of defense under President Corazon Aquino, died Thursday of a lingering illness. He was 82.

    Ileto, who suffered a cardiac arrest last week, died at around 6:35 a.m. at the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City, with his second wife, Yrna Avelina L. Dulce-Ileto, by his side.

    "He was so calm," Ms Dulce-Ileto told reporters at his wake at the Camp Aguinaldo military general headquarters. "It's the will of the Lord that he died. He was so good, and God had provided everything for him for his goodness.''

    "Everything happened so fast," she said. "Only at 3 p.m. yesterday (Wednesday), he was listening to his collection of classical music."

    Ileto, who founded the elite Army unit the Scout Rangers, had been confined at the hospital from April 12 until Tuesday after doctors found water in his lungs. During his confinement, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer (stage 4). And last Saturday, he suffered a heart attack, Ms Dulce-Ileto said.

    At about 4 a.m. Thursday, Ileto was rushed back to the Heart Center from his residence after his nails started turning black, his wife said.

    The Scout Rangers are widely acknowledged as Ileto's living legacy, but his defiance of Marcos is what many remember him for. "He was the only general who said no to martial law," said Ms Dulce-Ileto.

    In 1972 Ileto, then a brigadier general, was vice chief of staff of the Armed Forces and commanding general of the Philippine Defense Forces. As part of preparations for the declaration of martial law, Marcos shuffled some military commanders. Because of his opposition, Ileto was made deputy chief of staff. On the face of it a promotion, the transfer actually deprived Ileto of control of troops at a crucial time.

    Eventually his defiance prompted Marcos to appoint him ambassador to Iran and Turkey in a concurrent capacity, Ms Dulce-Ileto said, as a "diplomatic way of getting rid of him."

    Training days

    Born on Oct. 24, 1920, in San Isidro town in the northern province of Nueva Ecija, Ileto entered the military through the Basic Reserved Officers Training Course he took while a Mechanical Engineering student at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City. He joined the Philippine Military Academy in 1940, but graduated from West Point, the US Military Academy, in 1943.

    During World War II, he fought the Japanese with the US Army. Ileto was a young lieutenant from West Point when he joined the US Army's Alamo Scouts.

    Last April, Ileto was honored as a "living hero" for his participation in the 1945 "Great Raid" in Cabanatuan City, the biggest-ever rescue of American prisoners of war. The daring raid that liberated 516 American POWs was a joint operation of Filipino guerrillas, a US Ranger battalion, and the US Alamo Scouts led by Ileto.

    After the war, Ileto got out of the US Army, opting not to become a US citizen, and joined the Philippine Army.

    On Nov. 25, 1950, he organized the Scout Ranger Training Center to train mostly unattached volunteers from Battalion Combat Teams in reconnaissance and jungle warfare. He envisioned the new unit he established to perform dual functions: intelligence and combat. The term "Scout Ranger" comes from the combination of skills from two units: Alamo Scout tactics and US Ranger operational procedures.

    People Power role

    Unknown to many, Ileto also played a role in the bloodless EDSA People Power Revolution that toppled Marcos in February 1986, according to Wilfredo Ileto, his second son by first wife Olga.

    Ileto, then the ambassador to Thailand, acted as a liaison between the group of military officials loyal to Marcos, led by Armed Forces chief of staff General Fabian Ver, and the breakaway group led by Armed Forces vice chief of staff Lieutenant General Fidel Ramos, "to prevent bloodshed."

    "He didn't want any armed confrontation, and didn't want to be a fence-sitter either," the 55-year-old Wilfredo said. "Nobody knew that. He was a quiet man; he always wanted to keep a low profile."

    President Corazon Aquino later appointed Ileto as her defense secretary in 1986, replacing Juan Ponce Enrile who was suspected of plotting a coup d'etat.

    Ileto later served as national security adviser in the Aquino administration and presidential adviser on military affairs during the term of President Fidel Ramos.

    In his long public career, he also served in Laos and Vietnam, where he worked closely with American military experts who were just beginning their counterinsurgency war. On his return to the Philippines, he served as director of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency.

    Old age did not stop him from joining the ranks of retired generals in November 2001 who clamored for President Joseph Estrada to step down. At that time, he told the Inquirer that Estrada should not wait for the result of his impeachment trial because his continued stay in power would plunge the country deeper into crisis.

    Ileto is survived by Ms Dulce-Ileto and his stepdaughter, Michelle Diane Dulce; and seven children by his first wife, Olga: Reynaldo, Wilfredo, Christine, Jeffrey, Michelle, Marissa and Maria Teresa.

    Ileto remarried in 1994 several years after his first wife, Olga, died.

    Ileto will be buried with full military honors at the Libingan ng mga Bayani after the 9 am Mass on Sunday, June 22.