Lieut. Col. Edwin Price Ramsey, commander of the 26th Cavalry Regiment of the U.S. Army who conducted a guerrilla campaign against the Japanese after the Japanese invaded the Philippines, has died:
Historians have said that losing the Philippines in the early stages of World War II was a defining event in the career of Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
The same could be said of Edwin Ramsey. But Ramsey couldn’t admit defeat.
After MacArthur’s retreat in early 1942, Ramsey, an officer in the 26th Cavalry Regiment of the U.S. Army, joined the Philippine resistance. He eventually headed a guerrilla force that grew to 40,000 enlisted men and officers, supplying crucial intelligence that helped lay the foundation for MacArthur’s triumphant return more than two years later.
In January of 1942 as a lieutenant, Ramsey commanded what was to be the last cavalry charge the U. S. Army mounted against enemy forces:
As the Japanese Imperial Army landed thousands of soldiers near Manila Bay in January 1942, the 26th Cavalry was ordered into the fray to delay the enemy’s advance. Ramsey, then a lieutenant, led 27 riders to the strategic coastal village of Morong.
The village was still as Ramsey entered, but a Japanese advance guard soon shattered the silence with guns blazing. When Ramsey spied hundreds more Japanese troops wading across a river toward him, he knew his men had only one hope for survival.
He raised his pistol and, like a long line of cavalrymen since Custer’s time, hollered, “Charge!”
“Bent nearly prone across the horses’ necks, we flung ourselves at the Japanese advance, pistols firing full into their startled faces,” he recalled in “Lieutenant Ramsey’s War,” a 1991 memoir co-written with Stephen Revele. “A few returned our fire, but most fled in confusion…. To them we must have seemed a vision from another century, wild-eyed horses pounding headlong; cheering, whooping men firing from the saddles.”
After repelling the invaders, Ramsey and his platoon held their position for five hours under heavy fire until reinforcements arrived.
“This gallant little band of horsemen had maintained the best traditions of the American Cavalry,” Gen. Jonathan Wainwright, then a senior field commander under MacArthur, wrote in his official report on the battle. “I doubt if I could have successfully made that withdrawal” without them.
He and his men endured incredible privations as they successfuly eluded the Japanese for years, until MacArthur’s return. He was to say later that he did not expect to survive the war but that his temperament made it impossible for him to surrender.