Fidel V. Segundo died in action during World War II and the remains of this brave and gallant career officer lie in an unmarked grave somewhere in Manila. Soon after he was captured by the Japanese military police in December 1944, Fidel V. Segundo, together with others, was executed by the enemy and buried in a common grave. The date of his death is placed on or about 6 January 1945 and the exact location of his grave is unknown.
Fidel was born in Laoag, Ilocos Norte on 24 April 1894 to Luciano Segundo and Paula Ventura. He received his early education in Laoag and completed his secondary education at Manila High School. He was a pre-med student at the University of the Philippines when he received his appointment to West Point where he was nicknamed “Smoke.” He graduated from West Point in August 1917 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Philippine Scouts. In 1919 he married Angela G. Agcaoili with whom he had four children: Fidel Jr., Maria Lourdes, Lucien, and Roberto.
Fidel’s early military career was spent at Fort Stotsenburg, Pampanga. He returned to the US to attend the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma (1925) and the Cavalry School at Fort Riley, Kansas (1926). Returning to the Philippines as a captain, he was soon assigned to the Department of Military Science and Tactics of the University of the Philippines, which he eventually headed as Commandant of Cadets. He found great satisfaction in this particular phase of his career as he was able to mold many promising young cadets into the career officers who would soon hold important positions in the fledgling Philippine Army.
In 1936 he was promoted to major in the US Army and held an assimilated rank of colonel in the Philippine Army when he was detailed to assist in the formation of the Philippine Army under General Douglas MacArthur and his assistants Major Dwight D. Eisenhower and Major James B. Ord. From 1936 to 1940 Colonel Segundo was assigned to Philippine Arm / Headquarters as assistant chief of staff (G-2 and G-3) Intelligence, Operations, and Training. During this period he took charge of the formation of the Field Artillery and is fittingly remembered as the “Father of the Field Artillery.”
In 1940 he was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the US Army. Still detailed to the Philippine Army, he was briefly assigned to Mindanao where he revitalized Camp Parang and intelligence operations in that area. He was thereafter assigned as Superintendent of the Philippine Military Academy in Baguio, a position he was holding at the outbreak of the Pacific war on 8 December 1941.
Immediately following the Japanese landing in southern Luzon on 12 December, Colonel Segundo was directed to evacuate Baguio with his corps of cadets and his officers. On 19 December, with the rank of brigadier general, he formally took command of the 1st Regular Division which until then had not been “a component of the United States Army Forces Far East and, unlike the reserve divisions already inducted, it was not allocated any arms, equipment or supplies from the stock of the USAFFE.” There had been no previous plans to muster the division. Colonel Ambrosio P. Pena, Philippine Army historian who wrote the After Action Report, further states, “The 1st Regular Division was surely the least prepared for combat assignment in December 1941. It did not have any organic artillery, and as to arms and supplies, they were short of minimum requirements…The division did not even have at its disposal the minimum time to prepare the men for combat duty.”
But because of the urgency of the situation the 1st Regular Division had to be sent to the front lines. Colonel Uldarico S. Baclagon, who wrote ISO Days of the USAFFE, states of General Segundo, “On him fell the lot of commanding a hastily organized division with troops lacking in training and inadequately armed. Nevertheless his unit…made a good account of itself in defense action in southern Luzon and the Moron Bagac Sector in Bataan, particularly in the ‘Battle of the Pockets.’ ”
General Segundo survived the infamous Death March and the Capas concentration camp. Upon release he was active as advisor to the underground resistance movement. On 19 December 1944 he was arrested by the Japanese military police together with his son Fidel, Jr. They were tortured and ordered executed by the Japanese military command under General Yamashita.
General Segundo was the recipient of the Purple Heart and the Certificate of Appreciation and Memory from President Harry Truman. These stand out among the many citations he received before and after the war. His family is especially proud of his being the only member of his class whose name is engraved on the West Point plaque honoring those who died in action.
During his lifetime General Segundo was the author of various articles on military science and had helped draft the Philippine National Defense Act. He was an avid horseman who kept a modest stable of horses and instructed many friends in the art of horsemanship. He was a dedicated polo player and member of the American Polo Association.