JAMINDAN, Capiz - It was a fierce gunbattle with nobody wanting to surrender and ready to fight until death.
That was how 1Lt. Richard Paul Gobway of the 33rd Division Reconnaissance Company, described yesterday their running gunbattle with remnants of the Abu Sayyaf bandits, led by Joselito Milloria, in Clarin town, who had earlier also figured in the encounter with 47 th Infantry Battalion in the neighboring town of Inabanga, Bohol.
Gobway, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class 2015, and three other DRC troopers, including Sgt. Remegio Bayoneta, PFCs Leo Dumayac and Jay Abisado, were conferred yesterday with Gold Cross Medals, by Maj. Gen. Harold Cabreros, Army vice commander, who was assisted by Maj. Gen. Jon Aying, 3rd Infantry Division commander, during the 43rd founding anniversary of the 3ID, here.
The Gold Cross Medal is the third highest medal for bravery of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Gobway said he thanked the Lord for giving him and his men a second chance to live, as none of them was even injured in what he called the “fiercest gunbattle” he had experienced up to now.
The encounter in Clarin town, almost two weeks after the death of ASG leader Muammar Askali, alias Abu Rami, on April 11 in the neighboring town of Inabanga, Bohol, also claimed the life of Joselito Milloria and two other ASG bandits, with all six bandits accounted for by the Philippine military troops.
Milloria assumed leadership of the ASG stragglers, following the death of Askali and several of his men.
Gobway said the running gunbattle took place at a distance of about 10 meters.
He also thanked 3ID families and relatives for their prayers, as they were unhurt in the series of running gunbattles.
Aying, admitting that Abu Sayyaf bandits are seasoned fighters, said the training that 3ID soldiers have acquired also proved that they are effective against any threats from the New People's Army, ASG members, and other lawless groups. Due to the proximity of combat, Gobway, who is an Ifugao, figured in a hand to hand combat with Milloria, whom he subdued, resulting in the death of the latter.
Gobway also became emotional and teary-eyed when asked for his reaction to being awarded the Gold Cross Medal.
“I am thankful to God that he has given me a second life but I am saddened that we lost an officer and two other soldiers in the encounter,” he said.*GPB
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