by Col. John E. Olson, USA (Ret.)
“Stand aside, the Scouts are coming.” These simple words contained in a poem written by an American officer in a Japanese POW camp shortly after the fall of Bataan reflect a sincere and respectful tribute to some of the finest soldiers ever to serve in the U.S. Army. In the desperate resistance Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s beleaguered forces on Bataan and Corregidor put up against the Japanese invaders in early 1942, when units of the Philippine Scouts moved up to bolster hard pressed units or to attack the many landings made by the Japanese troops behind the main line of resistance, morale of other Filipino and American troops rose markedly.
Who were the Philippine Scouts? Little known outside the Philippines and largely forgotten by the U.S. Army of which they were a proud part, the Scouts were soldiers par excellence. How did the Philippine Scouts come into the U.S. Army and what contribution did they make to this country’s military heritage?
The Scouts were the first and last of what some might call American colonial troops. But they were not colonials. The first Scout organizations were created in 1901 during the early days of the American occupation of the Philippine Islands by the induction of Filipinos into the service of the U. S. Armed Forces. Their mission was to help restore order and peace to a troubled area. In the ensuing two decades, the Philippine Scouts took part in subduing the fierce and warlike Moro tribes on the island of Mindanao and in the Jolo Archipelago and in establishing tranquility throughout the islands.
The Full Philippine Scout Heritage Collection