The Philippine Air Force (PAF), in coordination with the City Government of Pasay City, led a simple commemoration program of the 76th Anniversary of the Retaking of Nichols Airfield on 16 February 2021 at the Pasay Historical Marker, Brgy. 183 Villamor, Pasay City.
Pasay City Mayor Imelda Calixto-Rubiano, who was not able to attend the commemoration, was represented by her Chief of Staff, Atty. Peter Eric Pardo, as the Guest of Honor and Speaker. Atty Pardo also led the wreath-laying ceremony together with the PAF Wing Commander of the 520th Air Base, BGen. Michael J. Lorenzo. Col. Agerico G. Amagna III, AFP (Ret), the Acting Chief of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office Veterans Memorial and Historical Division, LTC Jouie C. Embudo, the Chief of the PAF Office of the Historical and Cultural Activities, and Ruth M. Cortez, the Chairperson of Brgy 183, Pasay City also joined the event.
In her message, as read by Atty. Pardo, Mayor Calixto-Rubiano recalled the events surrounding the retaking of the then Nichols Airfield during the World War II. “The retaking of Nichols from Japanese Control occurred on February 15-16 of 1945. Filipino Hunter guerrillas and elements of the US 11th Airborne battled more than 6000 Japanese troops. The fighting was intense and bloody, but eventually Filipinos and Americans retook Nichols, and that is what we are celebrating today,” Atty. Pardo read.
Mayor Calixto-Rubiano also highlighted the bravery and sacrifices of our veterans who stood side-by-side with their American counterparts in liberating the country. “I could only imagine the bravery of our Filipino Soldiers, who joined their American Counterparts in establishing control over a very important event of war. Many have died so that we may live and that we may enjoy the liberties we have today. We honor and uphold the victory, the valor, and the selflessness of those who were ready to leave and die for our beloved country. We do this annually to commemorate this bravery, to ensure that it is never forgotten”. she added.
The Nichols Airfield served as an important launchpad in the retaking of Fort William Mckinley on 16th February 1945 and the raiding of Los Banos Prison Camp in Laguna, a week after.
The commemoration of the retaking of Nichols Air Field, now Col. Jesus Villamor Air Base, is in line with the Presidential Proclamation Number 653 that directs the Local Government Units to commemorate the anniversaries concerning the Liberation of the Philippines during WWII. The WWII marker located in Brgy. 183, Pasay City was inaugurated last year, on February 15, 2020.