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From: Ray Torrecarion (Rtorrecar@aol.com)

Subject: Filipino Guerilla who joined the U.S. Navy in 1944

 

Ref: Ricardo Torrecarion, Chris Tibus, Charlie Inot, Ernie Cordova, and Jerry Grant

 

Was surfing the web and found your site. Very interesting. My name is Ray Torrecarion, my Dad, Ricardo, was also one of the first Filipinos in the U.S. Navy having enlisted in 1944 onboard the USS Narwhal and was a Sub Sailor till 1972 when he retired from the U.S.Navy with almost 30 years. He was part of the Filipino Guerilla movement during WWII and was enlisted in the U.S. Navy under the most unusual of circumstances along with four other fellow Filipinos guerillas.

I enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1972 after finishing my BS ChemicalEngineering degree from De La Salle College Manila. I became 2nd generation Navy and was commissioned out of Aviation Officers' Candidate School, Pensacola, Fla in April of 1973 and received my Naval Flight Officer's Wings in Dec 1973. I spent 8 years on Active Duty and then 13 years selected active reserves, retiring from the Reserves in 1994 as a LCDR, CEC, USNR.

Your articles on Filipinos in the U.S. Navy touched me personally, particularly as a Navy junior and 2nd generation Fil-American. My dad passed away last Sept 23, 1997, on his 74 birthday. There were originally 5 of them who enlisted in 1944 from the Philippine Guerilla's. Only one survives. My dad's cousin, my uncle Chris, died last February 98, only months after my dad, and was one of the five.

The last surviving member of the five, lives here in San Diego. All five were submariners. If you would like to know more, e-mail me at my home address Rtorrecar@aol.com. I was surfing the web at work and found your site. I enjoyed your site, and it brought back memories of my dad, who I still miss very much. I am proud of my Filipino heritage and of my and my dad's Naval service. Thank you for making the site.

Ray Torrecarion

 

Second ltr.

 

Nestor,

Thank you for responding and allowing me to tell my dad's story. When I read that you had enlisted in 1947(S/B 1958), my thought's were, here is a person like my dad who was one of the early Filipino pioneers in the U.S. Navy (and a submariner too). I know of the sacrifices you made, the fact that the first

Filipinos in the Navy were only allowed to strike for steward and that many had college degrees. My dad started out as a steward, and switched to the Yeoman rate in the early 50's. He had just made first class steward, but in order to strike for the yeoman rate, he reverted to 3rd class yeoman. My uncle Jerry Grant, the only surviving member of the five, had a similar experience when he switched to ship's electrician. I remember Dad saying that the time, they realized that if Filipinos were to have better opportunities in the Navy, it had to start with their group, the first Filipinos to join.

It was that group that provided the first positive role models of Filipinos as hardworking, dedicated sailors. I also know how much harder and better your group had to be to even be acknowledged as equal with your non-Filipino contemporaries. I for one am well aware that the opportunities I enjoyed when I enlisted were earned by the first Filipino enlistees like yourself and my dad. I appreciate that, and do not look upon my opportunities lightly, as they were hard won by the Filipinos before me.

My dad used to tell me that the next generation must always improve on the accomplishments of the previous generation. I remember months before Dad passed away, he read an article in the newspaper on a CDR Dick Corpus, SS, USN who was C.O. of a nuke. He was Filipino, and Dad was so proud at the thought that the first Filipino Flag Grade Officer might be a submariner. Pride runs deep in the Sub Service, I know that for a fact.

What I provide following is a reprint of an article that appeared in the Stars and Stripes and numerous newspapers in Manila around 1967. I remember that I was a senior at De La Salle High School Manila at the time and I graduated in 1967, so it was around that time. I have a copy of one of the original articles that I can mail to you if you send me an address. The article is written by JO1 E.U. Orias, USN; it goes as follows:

"Of the thousands of Filipinos in the U.S. Navy, a veteran submariner from Bacolod City may be singled out as probably having enlisted under the most unusual circumstances.

Now a chief yeoman aboard the Subic Bay-based troop transport submarine USS Tunny (APSS-282), Ricardo H. Torrecarion was smuggled out of the Philippines 24 years ago by the submarine USS Narwhal which was then returning to Brisbane, Australia, after completing an arms run for guerillas on Leyte.

On arrival in Brisbane, Torrecarion and four other young handpicked Filipino guerillas were sworn in aboard the Narwhal in August 1944 as U.S. bluejackets.

Their special job was to act as interpreters for the officers and men of the Narwhal during its "gunrunning" operations in Japanese-controlled waters of the Philippines.

The selection was made in compliance with an urgent message from Allied war time headquarters in Australia requesting "five young and able-bodied guerillas for submarine duty'.

Supply Operations

After completing several hazardous arms-and-ammo resupply operations to Leyte, Cebu and Mindanao, they were transferred in Brisbane to the submarine tender USS Gilmore (AS-16) which headed for Subic Bay after the Allies recaptured the Philippines. At Subic they were reassigned to duty on the submarine staff of Commander, U.S. Seventh Fleet.

In 1945, he and his buddies went their separate ways. Torrecarion flew to Key West, Florida, where he reported for duty on the staff of Commander, Submarine Squadron 22, while his Narwhal shipmates went to duty elsewhere.

Torrecarion has been on duty in eight submarines since. His only non-sub duty was shore assignment in Washington, D.C. from 1960 to 1964. While in the nation's capital, he served for two years under Rear Admiral Herman J. Kossler, the present Commander of U.S. Naval Forces in the Philippines.

Torrecarion is married to the former Patria Vergara of Bacolod City and they have four children."

My dad's four other guerilla buddies were:

Charlie Inot. Uncle Charlie in his younger days was Boxing Champion for SUBPAC as a young 3rd Class. He was the first to pass away around 1968/69.

Chris Tibus. My Uncle Chris was really my uncle cause he married my dad's first cousin. They have never left Mystic, Connecticut. My Uncle Chris did his whole Navy Career in New London. My cousins (his two daughters and son) were born, raised and still live in Mystic. Uncle Chris passed away in Feb 1998, only months after my dad passed away.

Ernie Cordova, who was never really close to the family but I remember Dad said he passed away years ago.

Jerry Grant. Uncle Jerry is the only surviving member of this group and lives here in San Diego. Uncle Jerry is an American mestizo.

All the group hail from Bacolod-Iloilo area. I remember fondly listening to their sea stories in Ilongo which I had difficulty understanding, but I would catch phrases here and there.

I would hope more people from your group would pass their stories down. It must be appreciated by the current generation so they realize that the impact of the Filipino on the U.S. Navy (and this country) started with the people who came before them, at times with much hardship. I take great pride in knowing the story of my Dad and his shipmates. There are more stories like this that need to be told. I would hope that those people come forward to pass their stories on. Thank you for the opportunity to pass on this story.

 

Ray Torrecarion