Wha Chi veterans celebrate 75th anniversary

Dee Khong Hee leads guests in three deep-bows to pay respects at the memorial in honor of their fallen Wha Chi comrades.

Soon after the Japanese invasion of the Philippines on May 19, 1942, the Wha Chi 48th Squadron was formed by a group of courageous men bound by a common hatred of the Japanese and a burning desire to fight for Philippine freedom.
Today, 75 years later, the few surviving members of this guerrilla group are in their 90s.
But they still vividly remember their war time experiences and the heroic deeds and sacrifices they made in the battle for Philippine freedom.
The 1,000-strong squadron of young guerrillas – some of them teenagers and others in their early 20s – fought side by side with Filipino guerrillas, snatched weapons from enemy strongholds, liberated prison camps, gathered intelligence information, disseminated propaganda materials and helped evacuate rural folks during heavy encounters with Japanese.
The Wha Chi persisted for three years in 14 provinces in Central and Southern Luzon, fought in 260 small and big skirmishes, where 72 of their fighters lost their lives in battles or when captured by enemies.
On May 19, led by Dee Khong Hee, 93 years old, the oldest guerrilla still living, other guerrillas came from all over the Philippines and joined descendants of Wha Chi members and guests from different parts of Southern China gathered at the Chinese cemetery to commemorate the of founding of Wha Chi.
A grand celebratory dinner, attended by more than 200 people, including representatives from the National Historical Commission, Veterans Association and academe, was held at Golden Bay Restaurant.
“We are especially thankful for your presence tonight. We are old and suffering from ill health and this may be our last hurrah,” Dee Khong Hee emotionally told the audience.
He exhorted the descendants of Wha Chi to continue preserving the ideals of integrity, courage and heroic sacrifice for the common good.

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