Jesús A. Villamor
Jesús Antonio Villamor
Villamor exiting a plane upon returning from Batangas Field.
|Born||November 7, 1914|
Bangued, Abra, Philippine Islands
|Died||October 28, 1971 (aged 56)|
Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., United States
|Service/||United States Air Force|
Philippine Army Air Corps
|Years of service||1936-1971|
|Commands held||6th Pursuit Squadron, Philippine Army Air Corps|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Awards||(2x) Distinguished Service Cross with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster Medal of Valor|
Early life and career
During summer, he and his family went to Baguio and stayed in one of the government houses on Hogan's Alley, which are now assigned to Justice of Court of Appeals, just below Cabinet Hill along Leonard Wood Road. One of his playmates during this time was Roberto Lim, son of Brigadier General Vicente Lim.
Jess (as one of his friends would call him), at the age of 14 to 15, was already an aviation bug. He was worried that because of his short height, he wouldn't pass the physical exam. He learned how to fly in the civilian flying school in Grace Park that was located next to La Loma cemetery. Roberto Lim took his first airplane ride with Jess in a Stearman plane. He also signed Roberto Lim's first civilian license.
He joined the Philippine Army Air Corps (PAAC) Flying School in 1936 and was sent to the United States for training, and after three years, began flying B-17's as part of the US Army Air Forces Strategic Bombing Squadron. In 1939, Villamor assisted in teaching Dwight D. Eisenhower how to fly.
Philippine Army Air Corps service
Upon his return to the Philippines, Villamor was assigned to lead the 6th Pursuit Squadron (now 6th Tactical Fighter Squadron) shortly before the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in December 1941. In the skies above Zablan and Batangas Fields, against Japanese Zeros, his squadron of Boeing P-26 Peashooter fighters engaged the enemy. Despite the disadvantage, Villamor and his squadron was credited with four kills- one Mitsubishi G3M bomber and three Mitsubishi A6M Zeros. Two of them by Villamor himself.
For leading his squadron and for his two confirmed kills, Villamor was twice cited by the United States Army for bravery, receiving the Distinguished Service Cross for actions on December 10, 1941 and an Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a second award of the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) for actions on December 12, 1941 (see César Basa for more details). Villamor is the only Filipino to receive the DSC twice.
After his squadron was destroyed, Villamor continued his war against the Japanese as an intelligence officer. Having escaped the fall of the Philippine Islands, volunteering, Villamor received orders to return to the Philippines. Promoted to major, Villamor served as a commander in the Allied Intelligence Bureau. On December 27, 1942, Villamor was part of a team inserted by the submarine USS Gudgeon into the Philippines, making contact with Roy Bell on Negros.:88–93 Villamor went on to work with Bell, who would then make contact with James M. Cushing in 1943. Establishing a chain of direct communication from the Philippines with General Douglas MacArthur in Australia, he coordinated the activities of various guerrilla movements in Luzon, Mindanao and the Visayas. Completing his mission Villamor returned to Australia. Villamor's reports from the field were met with indifference by some within the SWPA, but were later publicly lauded by President Eisenhower.
For his bravery as a pilot and ingenuity as an intelligence officer, President Ramón Magsaysay awarded Lieutenant Col. Villamor the Medal of Valor, the highest Philippine military bravery decoration, on January 21, 1954. The Philippine Air Force's principal facility in Metro Manila which was first known as Nichols Field, then later Nichols Air Base, was renamed Col. Jesús Villamor Air Base in his honor.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jesús A. Villamor.|
- Jesús A. Villamor Papers at the Hoover Institution Archives