ALBERTO Bawagan Fernandez, a Cebuano war veteran, died Wednesday, June 9, 2021. He was 99 years old.
Fernandez, born on August 21, 1921 in Doong, Bantayan, Cebu to Francisco Fernandez and Genara Bawagan, was studying in the Philippine National High School (now Abellana), when World War 2 came to the Philippines.
He was in the ROTC, when General Wainwright called on all US forces to surrender. When the Japanese forces reached Cebu City, he escaped and took the train to Carcar and when he reached Carcar, he was arrested by Japanese forces and was tied down at the Carcar City rotunda with the late Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos.
After graduating from Grade 7, he became eligible to teach, and later taught in Bantayan, Cebu. He finished his associate in arts before the war.
He escaped Japanese POW encampment during heavy rains and joined the guerilla forces in Tabunan, Cebu City.
When communications were established with the US command in Australia, the guerilla forces in Cebu became part of the Usaffe (United States Armed Forces in the Far East). He became a 3rd Lieutenant and was the second in command of Bravo Company with military jurisdiction from Antuwanga Pass in Cebu City to Minglanilla.
He was involved in securing the Japanese military plans in the crashed plane bearing a Japanese general. It was an escape and evasion operation as they have to contend with Japanese forces intent to recover the plans, but were able to pass the plans to Gen. McArthur, which became the basis of the decision to land in Talisay.
He, despite the fact that another officer was to lead the attack but refused, volunteered to lead the first assault of the last Japanese detachment in Babag, Cebu City where he was wounded – his whole left foot was detached from his leg, when Japanese forces opened up from their camouflage position with machine gun fire killing 14 of his 21 men assault platoon. His soldier told him when he moved to a better position, that he left his boots. He was brought to the US General Military Hospital in Palo, Leyte.
At the end of the war, he was discharged from the Usaffe as a Second Lieutenant and awarded with Bronze star, Purple heart, WW2 Victory Medal, WW2 Phil. Defense Medal, Philippine Independence Medal, and WW2 US Army Combat Infantry Rifle Markmanship Pin Badge.
He is a member of the Disabled American Veterans.
He studied law in the University of the Visayas and became a lawyer in 1951 and a justice of the peace in Liloan, Cebu for 20 years and became a Municipal Trial Court Judge in 1980 in Liloan, Consolacion, Cebu City Branch 4, Argao and Talisay. (PR)