ZAMBOANGA CITY: He died young, but he died a hero.
Second Lieutenant Jun Galima Corpuz may not have earned a Scout Ranger’s badge but he earned far more than that when he died fighting Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) rebels—the respect and admiration of fellow soldiers and the country’s gratitude.
Corpuz, 22, was one of the soldiers killed during fierce clashes with ASG bandits in Sumisip town in Basilan province on Sunday.
The government troops were patrolling the village when they engaged about 20 militants, sparking a running gunbattle.
Also slain were Sgt. Tranquilino Germo, Jr., Private First Class Roland Entera Jr., Private First Class Freddie Pandoy, Private First Class Raffy Canuto and Private First Class Mark Anthony Singson.
Marine Capt. Maria Rowena Muyuela, a spokesperson for the Western Mindanao Command, on Monday said the slain soldiers were part of a team guarding a road project in the town.
Corpuz, who graduated in March this year from the Philippine Military Academy, was the fourth child among the seven children of Cresencio and Elizabeth, both 49.
Philippine military spokesman Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said Corpuz, a brilliant mathematician since his college days, excelled and graduated number 13 in his class at Don Mariano Marcos State University in Bacnotan town in La Union province.
Corpuz was a second year engineering student when he decided to enter the academy in April 2010.
“As a PMA cadet, Corpuz dreamed of becoming a Scout Ranger and yearned to live a life that is full of danger,” Cabunoc wrote in his blog.
He said the young lieutenant was motivated by the combat stories shared by his maternal uncle, Master Sergeant Jaime Galima, a battle-hardened Scout Ranger who regularly visited his home when he was still a young boy.
“He died fighting to save his wounded comrades whom he considered as his brothers. Tears flowed as they carried all of the six fatalities back to their detachment,” Cabunoc said.
“He told me that he would like to earn the tabak (Scout Ranger qualification badge) one day. He really wanted to become a war hero and a warrior like Uncle Jaime,” said Emmanuel, 23, Jun’s elder brother.
Sergeant Marvin Paragoso, 33, one of the two survivors who fought with Corpuz, described the slain officer as a very good leader who can easily mingle with the troops.
“He was a very caring person who readily listened and helped solve our problems. He always found time to interact with us during our leisure time,” Paragoso said.
He added thatthey were on routine security patrol when they saw a high ground that could be used by bandits as a staging ground for their attacks. Corpuz decided to clear the bushy part of the hill.
“While climbing the hill, we saw a man who hurriedly left the crest. All of a sudden our leading elements were heavily engaged in an intense firefight, hitting some of them.
Positioned a few meters from the leading elements, Lt.
Corpuz commanded us to provide supporting fire to save them. We fought hard but we were overwhelmed by their number,” Paragoso narrated.
Sensing that they will be encircled, Paragoso convinced Corpuz to jump into a ravine and find a covered position as he radioed for reinforcements.
“I saw Lt. Corpuz firing his gun at our attackers while I leaped toward a defilade to escape the high-explosive rounds that rained on us. I was hit and bleeding so I crawled toward safety,” he said.
When other soldiers arrived after about half an hour, they found the lifeless body of Corpuz.
“I will never forget a compassionate leader like him. True to his word, he left no one behind,” said Paragoso, a native of Cotabato.
On Monday, the flag-draped coffins of the slain soldiers were paraded inside the Western Mindanao Command headquarters in Zamboanga City and mourned by their colleagues.