Delfin Castro

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Delfin C. Castro
Major General Delfin C. Castro
Born (1925-07-30) July 30, 1925 (age 92)
Norzagaray, Bulacan, Philippines
Allegiance Philippines Republic of the Philippines
Service/branch Armed Forces of the Philippines
Philippine Army
Philippine Constabulary
Years of service 1951-1986
Rank US-O8 insignia.svg Major General
Commands held
Other work Author, A Mindanao Story: Troubled Decades in the Eye of the Storm

Delfin C. Castro is a retired Major General of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. He was the commander of the AFP Southern Command (SOUTHCOM),[2][3] from 1981 to 1986.[1] Notable incidents during his tenure include the Pata Island massacre,[10][11] the assassination of Zamboanga City Mayor Cesar Climaco,[12][13] the rescue of kidnapped Bishop Federico O. Escaler[14] from Muslim rebels and the strafing of the Japanese vessel Hegg by Philippine Air Force fighters off Mindanao.[15]

Early life[edit]

Castro was born on July 30, 1925 in Norzagaray, Bulacan. He took his primary and secondary education in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija.

Military career[edit]

He was among the first batch of post-World War II graduates of the Philippine Military Academy in 1951. The graduation date was advanced a month earlier to meet the requirement for platoon leaders very much needed because of the growing insurgency threat posed by the Communist Party of the Philippines and its military arm, the Hukbong Magpapalayang Bayan (HMB).[16] His initial assignment was leader of Combat Intelligence Teams of the 7th Battalion Combat Team (BCT)[17] under Col. Napoleon Valeriano.[18] Castro experienced being assigned to the field as a platoon leader (during which he was wounded in action), as company executive officer, company commander and Battalion Intelligence officer during the anti-dissident campaign.

A break in this campaign resulted only when he was fielded to the Korean War in March 1953 where he initially served as a platoon leader of Quad 50, 145th AAA (Artillery & Antiaircraft) Battalion,[19] 45th Infantry Division, US Army.[20] He was eventually assigned as a platoon leader of the Recon Company, 14th Battalion Combat Team (BCT), Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea (PEFTOK)[21][22] under Col. Nicanor Jimenez.[23] The battalion was assigned in Smoke Valley between Sandbag Castle[24] and Heartbreak Ridge.[25] After several engagements, his unit was redeployed to the M-1 Ridge, Christmas Hill Sector[26] up to the truce in July 1953. Later, he served part of his Korean tour as Liaison Officer in the US Army Supply Base in Pusan.

Upon returning to the Philippines, he was once again a company commander in the anti-HMB (forerunner of the New People's Army) campaign till his battalion was sent to Jolo, Sulu in early 1955 to participate in the Kamlon campaign. Even when Kamlon surrendered, he completed his one-year tour of duty in Jolo.

From 1958 to 1963, he served with the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) as head of the Domestic Branch, Special Operations Division, Operation Group. After this he served as Operations and Training Officer of the University of the Philippines’ ROTC (Vanguards) Department. Another training assignment made him Instructor and Acting head, Department of Tactics, School for Combat Arms, Philippine Army School Center. In 1965, he was transferred to the Philippine Constabulary where he had various assignments, the last being Zone 2 of the 2nd PC Zone under Gen. Manuel Yan.

In 1966 he was reassigned back to the Philippine Army and was selected to join the 1st Philippine Civic Action Group – Vietnam (PHILCAGV)[27] under Gen. Gaudencio Tobias.[28] Tobias was the battalion commander of the 14th BCT after Korea and Castro had served as his S2. In Vietnam, Castro was the Liaison Officer for Operations and Intelligence with Free World Military Assistance Headquarters, MACV from 1966 to 1968. His assignment included coordination with US Government Embassy Liaisons Edward Lansdale and Napoleon Valeriano,[citation needed] his former battalion commander. PHILCAGV was stationed in Tây Ninh Province. Notable areas where his duties took him were to Mỹ Tho, Tiền Giang Province, Nhi Binh Hamlet, Hóc Môn District and to the northernmost town of South Vietnam - Đông Hà, Quảng Trị Province. The Tet Offensive, where close quarters hostilities occurred and the May Offensive was launched by the NVA/VC during this tour of duty.

In 1969, he served with J2 AFP under Gen. Rafael Ileto and Gen. Fidel V. Ramos as Head of the Production Branch (Research), which gave him also the opportunity to sit with the 14th Intelligence Assessment Committee of SEATO in Bangkok, Thailand. He served in the Diplomatic Corps as Armed Forces Attaché of the Philippine Embassy in Rangoon, Burma from June 1970 to June 1974.

Upon his return to the Philippines, he was immediately fielded south in Mindanao where an insurgency by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) headed by Nur Misuari had escalated. He was initially assigned as Assistant Division Commander of the Army's 4th Infantry Division and concurrently Brigade Commander of its 2nd Brigade. Then he was made Deputy Commander of the Southwest Command (SOWESCOM) under Adm. Romulo Espaldon and concurrently the Ground Forces Commander. He was then shifted to the Central Mindanao Command (CEMCOM) in November 1975 also as Deputy Commander. On March 1976 he took over command of CEMCOM from Gen. Fortunato Abat who had been appointed CG, Philippine Army. He was the Commanding General of CEMCOM up to the year end of 1980. Also in early 1980, he was made Acting Commander of the Southern Command (SOUTHCOM).

On December 31, 1980, General Castro was designated Commander of SOUTHCOM. Under his command, SOUTHCOM had operational control of the whole of Mindanao including Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. At the peak of its strength it had the 1st Division and 4th Division, Philippine Army; two (2) brigades of the 3rd Division, one (1) brigade of the 2nd Division, some battalions of the 5th Division, PA; two (2) brigades of the Philippine Marines; All Philippine Constabulary (PC) and Police units in Mindanao; the 3rd Air Division, Philippine Air Force (PAF); the Naval Forces Southern Philippines (NAVFORSOUTH); and Civilian Home Defense Forces (CHDF)[29] - 35,000 of them armed with high powered firearms and 2,000 Special Para-Military Forces (SPMF) composed of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) returnees. All told SOUTHCOM had under its operational control some 75,000 Armed Forces and police personnel and about 50,000 para-military personnel.

He spent the last 12 years of his military career in the Mindanao conflict area and his field operations resulted in the surrender of many top MNLF Revolutionary Commanders with their followers including Amelil Malagiok alias Commander Ronnie[30] of Cotabato, Jamil Lucman alias Commander Jungle Fox of Lanao and Commanders Haji Hudan Abubakar and Gerry Salapuddin of Basilan. The Communist Party New People's Army (CPP/NPA) also suffered heavy losses and setbacks with hundreds in confirmed casualties and captured. Four brigades and fifteen battalions were shifted from MNLF areas in Region IX and XII to neutralize the threat of CPP/NPA affected areas in Region X and XI. Over 4,000 members of its organized mass base surrendered in a single year. The military had captured Benjamin de Vera, head of the Mindanao Commission (KOMMID) while his successor, Edgar Jopson, a member of the Central Committee and Executive Committee had died while avoiding capture in Davao. During these years of service in Mindanao, General Castro had survived several hostile fires airborne and on the ground, plane mishaps and a helicopter (Huey UH1H) crash.

He turned over the command to Brig. Gen. Jose Magno on March 5, 1986 upon his retirement. He had been the senior PMA graduate and 3rd ranking officer in the AFP next to Chief of Staff Gen. Fabian Ver and Vice Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Fidel V. Ramos.

Military training[edit]

His military schooling include among others:

  • Airborne Course, 1st Special Forces Co. (Abn), Fort Magsaysay, Philippines
  • Chemical, Biological and Radiological (CBR) Warfare Officer Course,US Army, Hawaii, USA
  • Ranger Course, The Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia, USA
  • Associate Infantry Officer Career Course, Fort Benning, Georgia, USA
  • Combat Operations Specialist Course, USAF Air Ground Operations School, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, USA
  • Command and General Staff Course, Fort Bonifacio, Philippines.

Awards and decorations[edit]

Distinguished Service Star w/ 4 Anahaw leaf cluster
Military Merit Medal Silver Wing Medal Military Commendation Medal
Wounded Personnel Medal Military Civic Action Medal Philippines Long Service Medal
Anti-Dissidence Campaign Medal Luzon Anti-Dissidence Campaign Medal & Ribbon Mindanao Anti-Dissidence Campaign Medal & Ribbon
Jolo Campaign Medal Disaster Relief & Rehabilitation Operation Ribbon Korean Campaign Medal(Philippines)
Vietnam Service Medal(Philippines) United Nations Service Medal Korea Korean War Service Medal
Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal (1st Class) Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Medal(1st Class) Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal

Republic of the Philippines Presidential Unit Citation Vietnam Presidential Unit Citation

Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation

Badges, tabs & patches:
Combat Commander's (Kagitingan) Badge.png Combat Commander's (Kagitingan) Badge (CC(K)B)
Republic of the Philippines Parachutist Badge
Ranger Tab.svg Ranger Tab
US Army Airborne basic parachutist badge.gif Parachutist Badge
ViPaBa.jpg Republic of Vietnam Senior Parachutist Badge
PAF Gold Wings Badge.png Gold Wings Badge
Other awards:
Pistol Expert Badge
CGSC Excellence Award
PMA Cavalier Award for Military Operations
Republic of Vietnam Armor Badge


In July 2005, General Castro launched his book A Mindanao Story: Troubled Decades in the Eye of the Storm.


  1. ^ a b Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement "JSOTF-Philippines Has a New Commander"
  2. ^ a b Carolyn O. Arguillas "Southcom to be divided into east and west commands", MindaNews, Davao City, Philippines, 23 July 2006. Re-posted July 23, 2006, 01:54:09 AM [1]
  3. ^ a b MANILA BULLETIN - Mike U. Crismundo - August 30, 2006, 8:00am "Southern Command deactivated - 2 new AFP commands activated" Archived 2011-06-07 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Cotabato Thru Time "COTABATO CITY: A Gateway to Central Mindanao"
  5. ^ Anchorage Daily News - Oct 4, 1985 A10 "21 Soldiers reported killed in the Philippines"
  6. ^ Sarasota Herald-Tribune - May 11, 1982 p. 5-A "Bombs kill 7 in the Philippines"
  7. ^ Miami Herald - Feb 15, 1983 3B front "Philippine Troops Advance on Rebels"
  8. ^ New Straits Times - Dec 3, 1984 p. 15 "Philippine troops and Reds clash"
  9. ^ New York Times - Jan 19, 1978 "Military in Philippines Reports Heavy Losses by Separatists"
  10. ^ The Sydney Morning Herald - Feb 16, 1981 "Moslem rebels massacre 124 soldiers"
  11. ^ Philippine Army - Army Management Information Center "The Reward of Persuasion: Bloodbath in Pata" Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ "Remembering Cesar Climaco, JOHN L. SHINN III La Zamboanga Times, p.1"
  13. ^ "Remembering Cesar Climaco, JOHN L. SHINN III La Zamboanga Times, p.2"
  14. ^ Associated Press - Feb. 25, 1985 "Bishop, Eight Others Rescued By Military"
  15. ^ Reading Eagle - Jan 18, 1982 Reading, Philadelphia "Filipinos Admit Planes Fired on Japanese Tanker"
  16. ^ Hukbong Magpapalayang Bayan (HMB) HUKBALAHAP
  17. ^ Major Lawrence M. Greenberg THE HUKBALAHAP INSURRECTION A Case Study of a Successful Anti-Insurgency Operation in the Philippines, 1946-1955 , Chapter IV:THE INSURRECTION - PHASE II (1950-1955) p. 118, U.S. Government Printing Office Washington, DC 20402, USA. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 86-600597 [2]
  18. ^ Major Lawrence M. Greenberg THE HUKBALAHAP INSURRECTION A Case Study of a Successful Anti-Insurgency Operation in the Philippines, 1946-1955 , Chapter IV:THE INSURRECTION - PHASE I (1946-1950) p. 71, U.S. Government Printing Office Washington, DC 20402, USA. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 86-600597 [3]
  19. ^ "145th AAA AW(Antiaircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons) Battalion". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2012-04-23. 
  20. ^ Rottman, Gordon L. (2002). Korean War Order of Battle: United States, United Nations, and Communist Ground, Naval, and Air Forces, 1950-1953 , p. 119. Greenwood Publishing Group Inc., USA. ISBN 0275978354."Google Books"
  21. ^ "First Lieutenant Delfin C Castro". Retrieved 2012-04-23. 
  22. ^ The Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK)"14th Battalion Combat Team (Avengers)"
  23. ^ "Colonel Nicanor T Jimenez". Retrieved 2012-04-23. 
  24. ^ "Sandbag Castle Photos". Retrieved 2012-04-23. 
  25. ^ "Heartbreak Ridge Described". 1943-07-10. Retrieved 2012-04-23. 
  26. ^ Christmas Hill. Retrieved 2012-04-23. 
  27. ^ Wilensky, Robert J. (2006). Military medicine to win hearts and minds: aid to civilians in the Vietnam War, p. 42. Texas Tech University Press, USA. ISBN 0896725324. "Google Books"
  28. ^ "Brigadier General Gaudencio V Tobias". Retrieved 2012-04-23. 
  29. ^ "PRESIDENTIAL DECREE No. 1016 September 22, 1976 - PROVIDING FOR THE CREATION OF THE INTEGRATED CIVILIAN HOME DEFENSE FORCES". 1976-09-22. Retrieved 2012-04-23. 
  30. ^ McKenna, Thomas M. Muslim Rulers and Rebels: Everyday Politics and Armed Separatism in the Southern Philippines., p. 214. University of California Press, Berkeley. California Digital Library.[4]