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.
21 thoughts on “Walter Cushing”
I’d never heard of Walter Cushing before this: thanks for posting this. While I like histories of the Civil and Revolutionary Wars and of samurai era Japan, texts about World War II makes me…sad. As a Japanese American, I associate that period with a lot of grim experiences for my family. Then the Philippines endured a lot at the hands of the Japanese during the war; before that, they were forced into becoming a colony of Spain and later a territory of the US. Most of us don’t hear anything about the resistance there: there’s so little regard for the history of smaller nations outside of the US.
Also interesting that you got to visit the military cemetery. San Diego’s ties to the Navy are well known, but oddly you don’t see a lot out there, except for the maritime museum off of Waterfront Park.
We didn’t visit much military stuff, I would have liked to but Vic and my cousin aren’t into that stuff as much. There was amuseum by the Marine base I didn’t get to. Next time.
WWII is a very sad time in history. I got into the Philippine resistance out of curiosity. I read a couple books on European resistance and one day had a thought, what about the the other side?
My cousin’s 1st hubby was half Japanese and his family was also interned while some served. I’ve been trying to learn more about Japanese Americans back then.
It’s weird I’m not into Civil War, Revolutionary, just WWII and now Korea. I think I tend to read about the times my Dad’s family would always talk about at the dinner table. I’ve been realizing that recently.
Powerful words, powerful photos, powerful post. This was a great read, I’ve never heard of Walter Cushing, but a true hero in life. The photos you have match the cadence of your words, so it is easy to get lost in this story – and also to wonder, what if he wouldn’t have been turned in. Great post, wishing you a great springtime ahead.
Thanks! We got really lucky, the weather (fog) was in our favor. My reaction when I first read about Walter was ‘that’s different.’ Wonder how many other stories out there are like that. Another bit that’s stuck in my head is from Outlaw Platoon (Afghanistan). The solider/writer is a fan of Harry Potter and all the other guys make fun of him. Then one day a new solider joins their platoon who is also a Potter fan and he was like, “Finally…” Made me laugh out loud. Random things get stuck in my memory.
Any 2019 travel plans? We’re going to Aruba again, Vic really needs to hang out with his fish friends. It’s been a long while and he really misses the beach. Later half of the year we’ll be visiting family in CA and then head to Oaxaca. Part of me can’t wait for 2020, we’re finally headed back to the PNW! Tofino & Seattle.
I need water as well, so I fully can understand Vic’s need for a beach. Hopefully we will be able to meet up in Seattle 2020, that would be very cool. Safe travels ~
I suspect wars are full of little vignettes like your story of Walter Cushing, many of which are likely never told because of the pain the memories bring to the soldiers. Somehow, the fog in the cemetery seems apt, as well as picturesque.
Very good point. The little stories in the books tend to get my attention.
Good story and stunning photos. You’re right about the fog.
Thank You! It was a really nice view.
Your pictures are amazing! You’ve captured the eeriness of fog perfectly.
Those are beautiful photos. I understand not wanting to be a prisoner of the Japanese. I read somewhere, I think it was the book “Unbroken,” that about a third of American POWs died in Japanese hands while only about one percent died in German hands.
Thanks! I’ll go put that book on my reading list! Have a great weekend!
As for my interest in Walter Cushing, I lived in the Philippines from age 11-13 from 1963 to 1965 (not military family). The war was still fresh in the minds of Filipinos. I heard lots of awe-inspiring, disturbing stories about the war and occupation that have been rattling around in my head ever since. I have just completed, or at least 95%, an authentic historical fiction about Walter Cushing’s nine month war. Like a meteor, he burned fast and bright, an awe-inspiring story about a but mostly forgotten hero. I plan on posting it as an Amazon e-book shortly. A couple minor corrections, his gold mine, the Rainbow mine, was in Abra province, not Kalinga. In researching him, I discovered conflicting accounts about his actions and last stand. I chose historical fiction instead of pure history in order to reach a wider audience. Fiction allows me to resolve some of these conflicts by choosing what seemed the most plausible and create a good story in the process (certainly more authentic than Mel Gibson’s movie Braveheart about William Wallace). I would consider beta reviews before publishing. Thank you Victor Mak for this blog.
Thanks so cool! Thanks for the correction too! Will update. Congrats on the ebook! Good Luck! Looking forward to reading it. Historical fiction is great. I find it helps me to think of things in a different way. A history book feels like facts and in a fiction book the story gives me a better example of how things are affecting the people/characters. Not sure if I’m describing that correctly.
Please let us know when your book is on amazon!
When history gets reduced to a lineage of data points, the story gets lost, which is why I like the genre historical fiction. I finally e-Published my eBook and an on-demand paperback for sale.
Description: The Rise of Resistance, Cushing’s War is the first book in the trilogy Moving Like Fish in the Sea. This World War 2 tale is based on the forgotten heroics of Walter Mackay Cushing, the intrepid father of guerrilla resistance against the Japanese in the Philippines.
In the Pacific War, 1941, immediately following Imperial Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, the Philippines fell to an overwhelming force. Faced with the loss of his life’s work, Walter Cushing, an American gold miner, organized a resistance group in the mountains of Luzon. Although firearms and ammunition were in short supply, dynamite and miners who knew how to use it were not. Raising a private army of 230 miners and stranded soldiers, he began a guerrilla war against the invader. Dynamic, self-sacrificing, utterly fearless, Walter Cushing set the stage in the Philippines for one of the most effective guerrilla movements of World War 2. As the Japanese headcount rose, and the phantom Cushing continued to elude his hunters, the sadistic Colonel Watanabe tightened the net, placing a high bounty on the American’s head. When he began to torture and kill Cushing’s friends, it became personal. Only one of the two could survive.
The book is available from Amazon kdp. Enter the search ‘Moving Like Fish in the Sea’
I decided my Book 1, Rise of Resistance, Cushing’s War published in May 22 was released too preliminarily for my satisfaction. I have just released an update in November that I believe improves on the previous draft. The book is available from Amazon kdp as either an ebook or a paperback book. Enter in the Amazon book search ‘Moving Like Fish in the Sea.’ If you purchased the earlier release, let me know if you would like an update.
Is the paperback updated? If it is, I’ll get that. If not, I’ll go order the ebook. Happy New Year! Can’t wait to read it.
Hi, Walter M. Cushing is my grandfather. I am so greatful for you interest in my grandfather. It validates the stories my mother would tell us so proudly about her father. I remember she treasured an article that was printed about him in True Magazine in the early 60’s I believe. Yes with the internet I have collected some I fo but this info I found today was touching and informational. Thank you.
Hi! It’s an honor to meet you via internet! If time machines were real, he’s on my list of historic figures I’d want to meet. I never thought I’d hear from a relative 🙂 I’m a WWII buff. I’ve read so little about Walter Cushing yet he’s one of the stand out stories for me. I’m sorry he passed away, that’s never easy for anyone to go through that. I hope knowing some random person who read about him, he made a lasting impression. And there’s a writer in who wrote a historical fiction about him, Christopher Ruttan. So two big fans that you know of! I wish I was a fly on your wall so I could have heard your mom’s stories!
If you ever feel like emailing, I wouldn’t mind hearing the stories: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cheers in the new year! Happy Hunting on the internet for more takes and stories. Ancestry was a gold mine for me. A lot of questions about my family answered.