Special Forces Regiment members pay tribute to FVR
MANILA, Philippines — The late President Fidel V. Ramos in his later years proudly wore his legacy on many occasions — a green beret with a parachute and a dagger badge, the insignia of the Philippine Army’s Special Forces Regiment Airborne (SFRA), which he established in 1962.
Dozens of retired and active officers and enlisted personnel of the SFRA paid tribute on Saturday to the departed leader at Heritage Memorial Park in Taguig City. Ramos died on July 31 at the age of 94.
Retired Maj. Gen. Jose Magno Jr., one of his co-leaders at SFRA, recalled Ramos saying that “the most exciting and dangerous assignment” in his 52 years in public service was his stint as the first commanding officer of the 1st Special Forces Company, which was patterned after the US Army’s Special Forces and was later expanded into a regiment with 20 companies, mostly in Mindanao.
In 1960, Ramos and Magno, together with then Lt. David Abundo Jr.and Cpt. Cesar Batino, trained at the Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and later topped the Special Forces and Psychological Warfare course. They took airborne courses later.
Ramos, who graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1950, was later tapped here by the military to include the concept of unconventional warfare in its operations, which consisted of guerrilla and psychological warfare. One of the requirements included a unit with airborne capability which specializes in parachute drops.
Retired general and former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, who served with Ramos in Vietnam and helped create the 1st SF company, remembered that it was the former President who always set a good example.
In one of his classes when Ermita was a Ranger module instructor for Special Forces, his students were “all very apprehensive” of the rappelling and river crossing that they were asked to do. They were supposed to descend on a 100-feet vertical cliff along a road in Fort Bonifacio, then a densely forested area, parallel to the Pasig River.
“Nobody wanted to be an example, but you know what, Captain Ramos moved forward to go on rappelling even if he was having a hard time… He did it just to [set an] example,” Ermita recalled in his eulogy.
“He saw to it that what he says can be done because he knew the psyche of the soldier. Give them a good leader and you will have good soldiers,” he said.
As a young lieutenant, Col. Ferdinand Napuli, who now heads the SFRA, remembered that President Ramos, during the Special Forces anniversary in 1992, pledged to attend the unit’s anniversary every five years from thereon. Unfortunately, he did not make it to the 60th anniversary in June because of his health.
“It would have been my honor to tell him that the Special Forces of today is now ready to orchestrate unconventional warfare operations to address external threats at our maritime borders,” he said.
Ramos will be given a state funeral with full military honors on Tuesday. A two-day public viewing started on Sunday, with several mourners trooping to Heritage Park to pay their last respects.
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