Tuesday, June 29, 2010

American Patriot/Hero of the Week

This weeks patriot/hero was brought to my attention by Mustang of the Stacking Swivel and Social Sense blogs. Thank you Mustang for bringing this under appreciated American patriot and Hero to my attention. You can read his post here.

Colonel Wendell Fertig

Wendell Fertig was an American civil engineer, in the American-administered Commonwealth of the Philippines, who organized and commanded an American-Filipino guerrilla force on the Japanese-occupied, southern Philippine island of Mindanao during World War II.

Fertig, a civilian, had a reserve commission in the U.S. Army and was called back into the military before the war in the Pacific began. Ordered from Corregidor before its surrender to the Japanese, he was sent to Mindanao and assumed command of engineer activities there. Almost as soon as he arrived the U.S. Army forces on Mindanao surrendered, but Fertig refused to do so.

Lieutenant Colonel Fertig decided that if he was able to resist capture, then it made sense that other American military personnel did as well; they would need leadership. He also considered that hundreds of Philippine scouts could be used as guerrilla assets against the Japanese if they could be located and persuaded to follow him. However Fertig was also a realist; what chance would he have of commanding any force of men as a newly promoted lieutenant colonel, and a civil engineer? So Wendell Fertig promoted himself to the rank of Brigadier General, United States Army and formed one of the most fantastic guerrilla operations in America’s entire history.

After a long period of organization, Fertig led the fight against the Japanese in hit-and-run raids and vital intelligence gathering activities. He amassed over thirty thousand armed men, the equivalent of an Army Corps, which included American forces who had managed to escape as prisoners of war, and fighting men of the Philippine Islands. His command finally made contact with U.S. forces in the Pacific using a homemade radio. Fertig's forces then began to receive supplies (medicine, radios, ammo, etc.) by submarine, but never enough to stage large scale attacks. More than once the Japanese tried to destroy Fertig and his guerrilla army, committing large numbers of troops for this purpose. This continued until the American forces returned to the Philippines, landing first on the island of Leyte.

After the war, Fertig was promoted to Colonel and received the Distinguished Service Cross. Many felt that he should have received the Medal of Honor, as well as a bigger promotion, but he did not receive them due to politics and small mindedness on General MacArthur's part. Despite this he never complained about not receiving the honors others felt were his due. He returned to his civilian engineering career, but continued his service as a reserve officer. He spent four years as the commander of the ROTC detachment at the Colorado School of Mines and served in a U.S.-based psychological warfare unit during the Korean War.
Wendell Fertig died in 1975 at the age of 74. For many people in the Philippine Islands, and indeed among many regular Army personnel, he will always be regarded as General Fertig, a true American hero. He deserves to be remembered by us all.


Thank you again to Mustang. For me, Colonel Fertig's story was inspirational on the virtues of never giving up and to fight the bastards to my last breath, a lesson I really need now when I look at the near ruin my country is in.


2 comments:

Mustang said...

First, I thank you for your kind mention, but far more than that, I deeply appreciate you taking the time to recognize a true American hero. He truly is an inspiration and enviable model for our young people.

Not long ago, a young lady contacted me; she wanted to know how her family might proceed in getting the Army to recognize her grandfather, Colonel Fertig. My jaw dropped. I do hope the family will proceed; I do hope the Army will do the right thing. If anyone deserved the Medal of Honor for extraordinary service in World War II, it is Wendell Fertig. And given his work establishing Special Operations doctrine, I think Colonel Fertig deserves posthumous advancement to the rank of Brigadier General.

Semper Fi …

Right Wing Extreme said...

I hope the family succeeds in their quest. I do not know what the process is at this point. They will probably need to get a congressman or senator behind them to give the movement some juice. You are right however, he should receive a posthumous promotion.

As for giving you the mention, that is only fair for passing on the name and story. If you, or anyone else for that matter, have a name that needs some recognition, pass it on with any information you have, and I will post it. As for taking the time, it is the least I can do to honor all of the heroes I post here.