For putting their lives on the line to save residents of an upland community in Compostela Valley at the height of Typhoon “Pablo,” 21 Philippine Army soldiers received the fourth-highest award given out by the military in recognition of their “acts of heroism.”
“We are proud of our soldiers who continuously risk their lives while serving on the frontlines,” Army spokesman Maj. Harold Cabunoc said in a statement.
“During calamities, our soldiers are the first responders who perform disaster response operations to help victims of natural calamities all throughout the archipelago,” he said.
Cabunoc said the Philippine Army commander, Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, personally conferred on Thursday the Bronze Cross Medal on four members of Charlie Company of the 66th Infantry Battalion who remain confined at AFP Medical Center in Quezon City.
The 17 other injured soldiers received their medals at the 10th Infantry Division headquarters in Camp Panacan in Davao City.
Describing them as the Army’s “new breed of heroes,” Cabunoc said 1st Lt. Alex Marvin Deazeta and his men were manning a military outpost in Barangay (village) Andap, New Bataan town, when the typhoon struck on Dec. 4.
The soldiers rounded up the local residents and put them on two military trucks to take them to safety.
But a sudden rush of floodwater carrying boulders and mud swept the village, burying the military vehicles.
“Despite this, the soldiers were still able to save some of the residents. Seven soldiers died, many were injured, while four remain missing,” Cabunoc said.
Several residents died but the Army did not have exact figures.
The Bronze Cross, the fourth-highest combat award given by the military after the Medal of Valor, Distinguished Conduct Star and Gold Cross, is bestowed for “both combat and noncombat accomplishments,” he said.
“(The award) is given to military personnel for acts that involve the risk of life other than those in actual conflict with the enemy,” he said. “The cross symbolizes risk of life and sacrifice, and the wreath stands for honor, which the awardee deserves.”
The citation for the injured soldiers read: “Deazeta and his troops courageously and fearlessly risked their lives. Their ultimate display of heroism, dedication, devotion to duty and selflessness greatly contributed to the great desire to save human lives, which the battalion has sworn to secure and protect.”