VIRAC, Catanduanes- To save others from harm, a young soldier offered his own life by battling it out with the rebels in an ambush staged by communist rebels in a remote village here early morning yesterday.
Private First Class Edel Llamas, 23, has proven that ordinary soldiers can become heroes during extraordinary circumstances. A former militiaman serving in Camarines Sur, seeing combat actions is not new to him.
He was part of a security patrol led by 2nd Lt Carlos Tobias which was sent by the 83rd Infantry Battalion to hunt down the NPA bandits who threatened to attack the Solong Hydroelectric Power Plant in San Miguel town.
When the security patrol was terminated at around 5:00pm, Tobias radioed his battalion headquarters to transport his 29-man patrol back to their base in San Andres town.
The M35 truck that carried his patrol negotiated a national highway in Balatohan village when burst of fires erupted, coming from two adjacent hills beside the road.
Sensing an ambush, Tobias ordered the driver to step on the gas pedal to escape from the enemy’s kill zone. Behind them, the soldiers in the right side of the truck including Llamas, promptly returned fire to suppress the enemy.
When the truck was immobilized by the enemy fires, Tobias directed his men to disembark and repulse the attackers. He heard loud screams from behind the truck amidst the thundering explosions.
Remaining in the truck to provide base of fire, Llamas continuously delivered heavy volume of fires directed at the enemies who occupied a vantage position several meters away. Fighting beside him was rifle man Pfc Eliseo Gran, 26, a native of Negros Occidental.
As the machine gun operator, Llamas employed his knowledge in countering an ambush by hurling hundreds of projectiles back at their ambushers.
“Baba kayo, ako mag-cover fire!”(Dismount! I will cover you), he heard Llamas as saying.
Tobias and his men dashed towards covered positions with their guns blazing. After several minutes of brutal exchange of fires, the rebels scampered away, dragging along their wounded comrades.
As Tobias performed the emergency headcount, he noticed that two of his men were unaccounted.
He later heard Gran, grimacing in pain due to his leg wound, lying beside the lifeless body of Llamas who was still clutching his machinegun.
Tobias and his men couldn’t express their deepest gratitude to Llamas for his outstanding display of bravery even in the face of sure death.
To save the rest of his comrades, he paid the ultimate sacrifice.