On November 7, 1914, Jesus Antonio Villamor, a Filipino ace pilot who fought the Japanese invaders during the World War II, was born in Abra.
Villamor, who joined the Philippine Army Air Corps (PAAC) Flying School in his early 20s, was an outstanding cadet sent to the United States for advance flight training for three years instead of four years.
He also took part in the training of the U.S. Air Force’s Strategic Bombing Squadron which used the B-17 and B-22 bomber planes.
After a variety of postings upon his return to the Philippines, he was assigned to lead the 6th Pursuit Squadron shortly before the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in December 1941.
Overmatched against Japanese Zeros, his squadron of P-26 Fighters held their own against fierce enemy in dogfight after dogfight. The Filipino pilots etched their courage and skills in the skies above Zablan and Batangas Fields.
After his squadron was destroyed, Villamor continued his war against the Japanese this time as an intelligence officer.
On Dec. 27, 1942, Villamor slipped through the Japanese Navy aboard the submarine USS Gudgeon (SS-211) and established communications from the Philippines to Australia where General Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters was based.
He served as the “clearing house” of all the information, including the activities of the guerrilla (which was formed in anticipation of what was then believed as a short stay of the enemy in the Philippines) movements in Luzon, Visayas and Mindandao.
These reports helped MacArthur immensely in planning his return to the Philippines, which took place in the beach of Leyte in Oct. 20, 1944, and eventually allowed the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) to map out a strategy to liberate the Philippines.
Hence, for his bravery as a pilot and ingenuity as an intelligence officer, President Ramon Magsaysay awarded Villamor the Medal of Valor, the highest Philippine military decoration on Jan. 21, 1954.
He also received the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Legion of Merit.
Also, the Philippine Air Force’s (PAF) principal facility in Metro Manila has been named Col. Jesus Villamor Air Base.
He died at the age of 56 on Oct. 28, 1971.
Source: Philippine News Agency