FORT BONIFACIO, Taguig City-Twenty one soldiers belonging to the Charlie Company of the 66th Infantry Battalion will receive a medal for acts of heroism during the onslaught of typhoon Pablo in Compostela Valley province.
Major Harold M Cabunoc, the Army Spokesperson, said that Army Chief Lt Gen Emmanuel T Bautista will personally pin the Bronze Cross Medal award on the four injured soldiers who are currently recuperating at the AFP Medical Center in V. Luna, Quezon City tomorrow.
The four awardees include 1st Lt Alex Marvin Deazeta, the Company Commander; 2nd Lt Jose Enrico Nuas, the Executive Officer; Private First Class Albert Puyunan and Pvt Ryan Magno who are all members of the disaster response teams which conducted preemptive evacuation in Andap village when floodwaters started to rise, threatening the whole community.
“The awards rites for the four injured soldiers be at 10 a.m. on Thursday, December 27 inside their hospital ward. There will be a separate awarding ceremonies to be held in Camp Panacan Hospital in Davao City for the 17 other members of the company who were also injured that day,” Cabunoc said.
The Bronze Cross Medal can be awarded for both combat and non-combat accomplishments that involve ‘acts of heroism’.
It is granted to military personnel for heroic actions that involve the risk of life other than those of actual conflict with the enemy. Saving victims during heavy flooding is an example of heroic feats that will pass the criteria for this award.
As a medal for heroism, it is next in succession to the Medal for Valor award being the highest; Distinguished Conduct Star; and the Gold Cross Medal. It is the 9th highest award in the military’s list of awards and decorations.
The cross symbolizes risk of life and sacrifice, and the wreath strands for honor which the awardee deserves.
Acts of heroism
Stationed in the hinterland village of Andap, Deazeta and his men were alerted for possible disaster response operations in the eve of the onslaught of typhoon Pablo.
Early morning on December 4, as heavy rains pounded the area and water level in the nearby creek steadily rising, Deazeta took the risks by gathering residents and boarded them on two military trucks, to bring them towards safer grounds.
Unfortunately, a sudden surge of floodwater with boulders, mud, and huge tree trunks engulfed the whole community sweeping all of them, including the soldiers.
Despite these, the soldiers were still able to rescue some of the residents but not all of them were fortunate to survive the rampaging floods which swept them away.
The Bronze Cross Award citation states that “Deazeta and his troops courageously and fearlessly risked their lives, and evacuated the populace of Brgy Andap to higher and safer grounds at the height of typhoon Pablo…Their ultimate display of heroism, dedication, devotion to duty and selflessness greatly contributed to the great desire to save human lives whom the Battalion has sworn to secure and protect.”
New breed of heroes
Cabunoc said that Deazeta and his men are the Army’s new breed of heroes.
“We are proud of our soldiers who continuously risk their lives while serving in the frontlines. During calamities, our soldiers are the first responders who performed disaster response operations to help the victims of natural calamities all throughout the archipelago,” he said.
Seven soldiers of Charlie Company perished while four others remain missing as of this day.