It was during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in 1943, when I was only 12 years old when I first met Lt. Edwin Ramsey. Little did I know then that this special friendship would last for 70 years!
My father, a town judge, and mother, both were one of the first recruits in Lt. Ramsey’s underground guerilla movement. One day, my parents asked me to clear my bedroom to accommodate a very important guest. Reluctant to give up my room, my parents shared a family secret with me. Our “guest” was an American Officer named Lt. Edwin Ramsey hiding from the Japanese.
I remember him as a 26 year old, tall, lean – barely 100 pounds – officer. I was more thrilled than scared to have an American soldier stay in my bedroom and live with my family for a few months.
Lt. Ramsey had a favorite dessert called leche flan and I remember him finishing a plateful. I reminded him a few years ago about this and he said (QUOTE) “I was afraid I might go hungry again.”
Lt. Ramsey made many sacrifices, risked his life to help liberate the Philippines. He helped strengthen the guerilla movement by recruiting members. Our house was a busy place at night. I called Lt. Ramsey’s routine “he walks by night and sleeps by day.”
The Pangasinan-Tariac Military District formed part of his organization, known as ECLGA (East Central Luzon Guerilla Area). This comprised of 8 provinces and included the Capital City of Manila. Altogether, he recruited about 40,000 men.
One day, a messenger came running into our house to warn us about some Japanese soldiers dropping by a store two houses away from us. Lt. Ramsey was escorted hastily to the backyard nipa hut.
I recall a time when the women folk held a social gathering at the town square to divert the Japanese soldiers attention of an important meeting at our backyard that night. There, they would also huddle close to a small radio and listen to news and instructions from Australia or from submarines plying the Philippine waters.
After the war, our family would see Col. Ed when he visited the Philippines. In 1964, he and his family came to our house in San Carlos, Pangasinan, where a grand reunion of the ECGLA officers and members was held. He asked to visit the nipa hut in our backyard where he inducted recruits and conducted meetings.
I met his lovely wife Raqui in 1982. We lost contact for about 20 years but had a very touching and memorable reunion in 2006 at the Philippine Scouts Heritage Society event in San Francisco.
I am very honored and delighted my friendship with Col. Ed has endured for 70 years. My family will always remember the young 26-year-old American – a legendary hero to me and my family, a hero to many Filipinos who was instrumental to our liberation.
Let us celebrate his life today and thank him for all the sacrifices he has made for the freedom we now enjoy.
Lt. Col. Edwin P. Ramsey
Celebration of Life Memorial and Reception
Remarks by Alice Benitez