RUBEN P. SONGCO, 1LT, USA

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Ruben Songco '43

Date of birth: September 5, 1921

Date of death: December 5, 1944

Age: 23

Lucky Bag

From the 1943 Lucky Bag:

Loss

From A History of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion:

The first of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion missions departed Brisbane, Australia on October 23, 1943. MacArthur was there to bid them farewell as they left on the submarine USS Narwhal. The party consisted of Major Lawrence Phillips, Captain Galang, 1st Lieutenant Ruben Songco, four radio operators and two Reconnaissance men. They landed in Mindoro on November 13, 1943. The Japanese immediately knew of their landing from an informer in the town of Paluan and hunted them down. Only Galang and two men survived the war.

The fate of 1st Lieutenant Ruben Songco was a shameful tragedy. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, he was denied a commission in the U.S. Navy because he was a Filipino. Wanting to help liberate the Philippines, he accepted a commission in the U.S. Army and trained with the 1st and 2nd Filipino Infantry Regiments. After a series of gallant exploits, he was ambushed and killed in Panay in December 1944, betrayed by pro-Japanese Filipinos.

There is a fascinating photo album posted that includes some pictures of Ruben, and then dozens of the ceremony in his home town when his remains were returned in 1960. Additional photos also posted here.

Contacted the person who posted the pictures on June 26, 2017 with questions.

Despite invitation indicating a promotion to Captain, keeping rank as 1LT, as that is what is on the plaque in the photographs.

The portrait of Ruben includes a Bronze Star; unable to find a citation.


Class of 1943

Ruben is one of 79 members of the Class of 1943 in Memorial Hall.