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Apr 01st
Home Sections History Remembering “USAFFE Day” of July 26, 1941
Remembering “USAFFE Day” of July 26, 1941 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Arturo P. Garcia   
Tuesday, 26 July 2011 17:39


By Arturo P. Garcia
JFAV National Coordinator


S eventy years ago, today on July 26, 1941, US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt formed the United States Armed Forces in the Far East or the USAFFE. This was the main reason why the Filipinos must be considered as American soldiers and as American World War II veterans.

To some sentimental guys they call this day “USAFFE Day.” To the more conscious it is called “Conscription Day”

On this day Filipinos were mandated to serve the
United States as American nationals. President Roosevelt issued this Military Order, calling into service and placing under the command of “the armed forces of the United States for the period of the existing emergency… all organized military forces of the Government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines

By this order, the 120,000 armed forces of the Commonwealth of the
Philippines including its unarmed reserves were merged and placed under the command of the United States who has less than 40,000 troops in the Philippines. Thus the Philippines became the largest US
garrison outside of the mainland.

And yet until today, 66 years after, the Filipinos who served under the USAFFE are not treated and not recognized as American war veterans. And that includes their survivors, meaning the widows and legal heirs.


T he action was a general mobilization in an anticipation of a war against the Axis power.  Three years before, on
September 3, 1939 Germany attacked Poland and the Second World War erupted in Europe.

Unknown to Filipinos, who responded to the compulsory mobilization, they were bound by the Military Laws of the
U.S. that provide among others that in case of desertion or “attempt to desert the service of the United States
, if the offense” is committed in time of war, they will “suffer death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.”

Other violations of Articles of War whose punitive punishment calls for death in time of war during that time were advising or aiding another deserter, misbehaving before an enemy, relieving, corresponding with or aiding the enemy, spying and committing murder or rape.

But because the U.S. was going to face a well-trained, well-armed and more numerous Japanese Army that would attack Pearl Harbor four months later, Roosevelt conscripted an ill-trained and under-armed Commonwealth and later during the 3 –year Japanese occupation, other militia (guerilla) forces that could face death in the hands of the U.S. military if they violated some Articles of War or their Japanese enemies.

The War Years (December 1941-September 1945)

T he USAFFE existed for only 11 months. For the first six months were focused on the training and preparations and the next five months for intense fighting.

When the war broke out on
December 7, 1941, the USAFFE was placed into alert and war footing. The USAFFE divisions resisted the Japanese invasion until they were forced to retreat to Bataan
in January 1942.

Battle for Bataan lasted from the last week of January to April 9, 1942. When Bataan fell to the Japanese, it was just a matter of time that the fort of Corregidor would fall on May 6, 1942. With the fall of Corregidor
, USAFFE as a unit ceased to exist.

But the Filipinos and some American officers and men refused to surrender and keep the fight for resistance for the next three years. They became the core of the liberating forces that helped the US Army to liberate the
three years later in 1944. In its place, the new army of the Commonwealth was formed. USAFFE just became a part of history.

Significance of the USAFFE

T he USAFFE fought a holding action against the Japanese. Its battle at
Bataan and Corregidor as well as the other pats of the Philippines, delayed the Japanese timetable for the occupation of the Philippines and the whole of Asia.

For the
US, it taught the country the need for preparedness in time of peace. Never again that American will be surprised with a large-scale invasion from a foreign army. For the Philippines
, it taught the country a lesson in self-reliance.

That the defense of the
cannot be placed and must not be trusted to another foreign power. This is a lesson that still echoes today.

A lesson that must be well remembered.

For justice, equity and racial equality. # # #

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