U.S. Embassy in the PH Honours 98-Year-Old WWII Veteran, MSgt. Richard Adams

From 1942-1945, the Philippines became a major battleground of World War II in the Pacific. It was a time of great tribulation for the nation but it also gave...

From 1942-1945, the Philippines became a major battleground of World War II in the Pacific. It was a time of great tribulation for the nation but it also gave rise to many war heroes who sacrificed their lives for the freedom that we have today. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Manila (3 Feb. – 3 March 1945) and the liberation of the Philippines from the Imperial Japanese Army.

The victory of the Filipinos and the Allied Forces during the Battle of Manila (and other battles that led to the country’s liberation) shortened the duration of WWII in the Pacific and also prevented the bombing and invasion of Australia and India by the Imperial Japanese Army.  

This February, an American WWII veteran revisited the Philippines. Retired Master Sergeant Richard Adams is a 98-year-old World War II veteran and the last living paratrooper who returned with Gen. Douglas MacArthur in the Philippines in 1945. During WWII, he was a young paratrooper assigned in the Philippines from the 503rd Parachute Regimental Combat Team — a team that helped liberate Corregidor from the Japanese garrison in 1945. 

 

H.E. Sung Y. Kim, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines with World War II veteran, Retired Master Sergeant Richard Adams, and group

 

MSgt. Adams was one of the paratroopers who bravely landed on 16 Feb. 1945 in Corregidor as part of the early tactics to defeat the Japanese garrison in the fortress island. The Battle for the Recapture of Corregidor lasted until 26 Feb. 1945.[1] 

 

A Story of Miracle

From his interview by Esquire magazine last 13 Feb. 2020 at the Manila Hotel [2], he said that what he remembers the most about his Corregidor landing is the wind. “It was a beautiful day when we came in at about a thousand feet above the water and then the island came up 500 feet so we jumped in about four to five hundred feet.”

“And the wind was a little too hard so they dropped it down and once they came after us, we were pretty close to the ground.” He said that landing itself was over pretty quickly but the wind blew him toward a cliff and not the golf course he was aiming for. 

He shared that he was lucky to land on a tree that kept him from going down further. He said something else saved him that day. “I wear a Miraculous Medal that my mother gave me. The second day after my jump, I noticed that the medal was gone, it was torn off,” MSgt Adams said.

“About a week after we went to Corregidor, we went up to the hill and there were so many flies. You couldn’t open a can and put it in your mouth. The flies were terrible because the battlefield was kind of a mess that encourages the flies.”

“I went back down to the jump field to get a parachute to protect me from the flies and came back towards the hill. Of my hands and when I picked it up, I saw it. There was my medal, in the middle of the field. So that was kind of a Miraculous Medal.” [2]

 

U.S. Embassy Event

Last 18 Feb. 2020, MSgt. Adams was honoured at the Charles Parsons Ballroom of the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines at an event organised by a film company, Spyron-AV Manila, along with Philippine Veterans Bank and the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines. He was accompanied by his daughter, U.S. Air Force Captain Alyson Adams. 

 

The guest of honour, the 98-year-old World War II veteran, Retired Master Sergeant Richard Adams and his daughter, US Air Force Captain Alyson Adams

 

Present during the event was His Excellency Sung Y. Kim, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, who gave the Welcome Remarks. He mentioned that this same room was also the place where General Yamashita’s trial was held after the war.

 

Remembrance of War

Chairman and CEO of Philippine Veterans Bank,  Dr Roberto de Ocampo, OBE; gave an insightful speech about the realities of war. He said that being a soldier in a real war is not the same as playing a video game where one can easily restart a game once shot or killed. War is a serious thing that brought death, destruction and trauma to many people, and yet there are many during WWII who chose to bravely defend the country against all odds for the sake of the future generation.

Peter Parsons, founder of Spyron-AV Manila and son of highly-decorated war hero, Lt. Charles “Chick” Parsons, gave the introduction to MSgt. Richard Adams. Lt. Charles Parsons was one of the bravest men of Gen. Douglas MacArthur during WWII.

 

Mr Peter Parsons, son of the well-decorated World War II hero, Lt. Charles Parsons. Peter is also one of the founders of the film company, Spyron-AV Manila

 

Also present during the event were Filipino WWII veterans like Mr Wilfredo G. Valenzuela, along with the Sons and Daughters of the Hunters ROTC Guerillas, Retired Major General Jose Magno, CFO Secretary Nick Acosta, historians Dr. Rico Jose, Professor Bernard Karganilla, Philippine Veterans Bank FVP Mike VillaReal, and students.

 

New Generation of Paratroopers

The members of the 503rd Infantry Regiment and 317th Airlift Wing were also present and they flew directly from Vicenza, Italy to meet MSgt. Adams. 

The 503rd Infantry Regiment presented a plaque to MSgt. Adams. Moreover, the U.S. Ambassador, H.E. Sung Y. Kim presented a certificate to Peter Parsons and Lucky Guillermo, founders of Spyron-AV Manila.

 

Film Screening

The event included the screening of the documentary film “Corregidor: The Road Back” by Spryon-AV Manila. Peter Parsons wrote and directed the film. Lucky Guillermo introduced the film to the viewers. Msgt. Adams and his fellow paratroopers were actually featured in the film. 

“Corregidor: The Road Back” is a 53-minute documentary in English that relays the story about the retaking of Corregidor in 1945, which is three years after the Japanese army took control of it in 1942.

 

Returning to The Rock

Corregidor is known as The Rock or the Gibraltar of the East. It is officially named Fort Mills and was the largest of the four fortified islands protecting the mouth of Manila Bay [1]. Prior to World war I, it was fortified with powerful coastal artillery. 

“Corregidor: The Road Back” was narrated by Col. George Jones of the 503rd Parachute Regimental Combat Team. Other narrators were war veterans Chet Nycum, Tony Lopez, Tony Sierra, John Teffenhart, Jim Mullaney, and son of Walter Kwiecinski, Steve Kwiecinski.

In 1942, Staff Sergeant Walter Kwiecinski was manning the 12-inch mortars of Battery Way, the last big gun to fire on the Japanese before Corregidor fell on 6th of May 1942.

 

Visiting Gen. MacArthur’s Old Office

Before the film screening, MSgt. Adams visited The Manila Hotel on 13 Feb. 2020 for a press conference and to pay homage to Gen. MacArthur. The press conference with MSgt. Adams was held at the MacArthur Suite of The Manila Hotel, the historical office room of Gen. MacArthur. [2]

American architect and urban planner William Parsons designed The Manila Hotel in 1909. It is the oldest and first hotel in the Philippines. Gen. Douglas MacArthur stayed here from 1935 – 1941. 

Regarding his visit, MSgt. Adams stated, “I’m doing these to honor those people, the Filipinos and Americans that defended the island and also those who on the 16th came back to Corregidor. I think we are honoring those not only who came back on the 16th but everyone who was left.” [2]

 

 

 

Reference:

[1] Retrieved from – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Corregidor

[2] Pamaran, Maan D’Asis (18 Feb. 2020). “The Last Living Paratrooper Who Returned With MacArthur Revisits the Philippines”. Esquire.  

 

Photos:

Courtesy of Spyron-AV Manila and Marcelle P. Villegas for AmCham Business Journal

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