Major Walter Cushing fought with the Filipino-American guerrillas in WWII. I was introduced to him while reading, The Intrepid Guerillas of North Luzon. He kept evading the Japanese by pretending to be a Spanish priest. He was mestizo; half Mexican and half Canadian and could pass for Filipino. His battles against the Japanese were fairly successful but the day came when the Ganaps (pro-Japanese Filipinos) turned him in and gave away his whereabouts.
There actually wasn’t a lot written about him. It was the manner in which he died that captivated me. I don’t remember all the details (it’s been a while). The Japanese surrounded Walter and he killed quite a few of them. Instead of allowing himself to become a prisoner of war, Walter shot himself. Taking his own life rather than becoming a prisoner of war is kind of like Japanese culture, they fought to the death (surrendering is shame). It is said that they were so impressed with him that they buried him with honor.
Walter poured a lot of his life savings into Rainbow mine in Abra
mine in Kalinga, Philippines where he was part owner and when the war broke out orders were to destroy everything so it didn’t end up in enemy hands (thanks for the correction Christopher Ruttan, he is working on a historical fiction about Cushing – see his comment below). He was bitter and had a burning hatred for the Japanese because of this. He found disorganized soldiers and weapons in deserted barracks. He was determined to rage war against the Japanese and was pretty successful. His unit didn’t fare as well after his death.
When I realized Walter Cushing was buried in a military cemetery, Fort Rosecrans, in San Diego, it sent me to the moon and I just had to visit him.
Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery is located 10 miles from Downtown San Diego. It’s a beautiful cemetery and a nice final resting place. My cousin and her hubby drove us here. I felt bad having them go out of their way but she said it was ok, her hubby likes this stuff (his Dad was career Navy) and it was on our way to Cabrillo National Monument.
I must not look like the type to enjoy a good war book or movies. Vic tells me I read a lot of war books for a chick. When I said I had a guerrilla to visit at Fort Rosecrans my cousin’s hubby asked with a look on his face, “to clarity, gorilla (spelling it out) or guerrilla?” And I answered by mentioning, The Intrepid Guerrillas of North Luzon. Here’s another book that briefly mentions Walter, Guerilla Priest by Stephen Griffiths.
And while were were standing in front of Walter’s grave paying our respects, I just said, “Basically from what I’ve read, he was a crazy guy and just had to meet him.” Sometimes I wonder, what would have happened if the Ganaps never turned Walter Cushing in to the Japanese.
Thank You, to all the veterans who serve (past and present).
Also, Thank You to their families, they sacrifice a lot too.