Do you know the first Filipino Fighter Pilot who was made a hero after he was killed during a dog fight with the Japanese planes who raided and invaded the Philippines during World War II at a very young age of 26?
His name was Lieutenant Cesar Fernando Basa, the first Filipino fighter pilot who was killed when the Japanese forces attacked the Philippines in 1941. This is when the Philippines was still under the American rule. Basa was one of the pioneer fighter pilots of the Philippine Air Force. He is also the first Filipino fighter pilot who was killed during the World War II.
Basa was born on 1915 and was raised in Isabela, Negros Occidental. When his parent left the province to permanently live in Manila, Basa studied and finished the course of Bachelor of Science, Major in Chemistry at the Ateneo de Manila.
Right after his graduation, Basa joined the Philippine Army Flying School to which he finished his course in 1940. This is when Basa’s profession as a fighter pilot started at the Philippine Air Force giving him the rank of 2nd Lieutenant.
In October 0f 1941, Basa was given his first assignment under the leadership of Capt.
Jesus Villamor. Villamor was then the Executive Officer of the Batangas Airfield.
When the infamous Japanese attacked of the Pearl Harbor's US Naval Force base in Hawaii on December 1941 – which officially declared as Japan’s entry to the 2nd World War – the Japanese Naval and Air Force Fleet succeeded in crashing the US naval base. In the succeeding days, the Japanese fighter pilots begin to attack the US Air base in the Philippines.
Among the target of the 27 Japanese bombers and its 17 fighter plane escorts was the Batangas Airfield to which the troops of Capt. Villamor made a great stand and fight the invaders. Capt. Villamor only had five fighter planes on his command when the dog fights begin.
And just getting back from his two hour reconnaissance mission, Basa rushed to the war zone to engaged with the enemies. While Basa was still half-way to his comrades, he was intercepted by seven Japanese fighter planes (the A6M Zero, or simply zero). Basa’s Curtiss P-26A "Peashooter" fighter plane was shot down. But, Basa managed to eject from the down plane, he was strafed and killed by a fighter plane when he was dangling helplessly from his parachute.
Eventually, Capt. Villamor’s Air Force defenders won the battle having only one casualty of war – Lt. Basa.
As a commemoration to his bravery and heroism, Lt. Basa was awarded the Silver Star medal. And to commemorate his loved for the Philippine freedom and sacrifice, a Philippine Air Force Airbase was named after him. This was located at Floridablanca, Pampanga – the Basa Airbase.
Author’s note: Another compiling story and history of my motherland and its citizens.
Today, when we heard the word Libingan ng mga Bayani we knew that it is the cemetery where all of our soldiers who fight for our freedom during the World War II rest in peace. But before it was called such name, its former name was called Republic Memorial Cemetery.
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