Augusto Flores’ full interview video is available for viewing. A primary review, which will include the creation of a bio and highlighted clips with summaries, is forthcoming. Please check back for updates.
[Beginning of recorded material]
A: My name is, uh,, Augusto S. Flores. I am, uh, a retired Colonel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, particularly Philippine Army.
I: Okay. So your first name is Augusto, A-U-G-U
I: S-T-O. And your middle name is
I: And then your last name is
I: Great, Flores. So what is your birthday, sir?
A: I was born August 28, 1932.
I: Nineteen thirty-two. So you are now 87 years old?
A: Eighty-seven. Eighty-seven years and four months.
I: Four months. And where are your wrinkles? I don’t see any wrinkles in your face.
A: Oh really?
I: Where did you put it in?
A: Oh, I give it to my girlfriend.
I: You look very young, sir. And where were you born? Were you born in Manilla or
A: I was born in the Province, uh, particularly in, uh, [INAUDIBLE]
I: Ah ha.
A: The province is, uh, in Central [INAUDIBLE]
I: I see.
A: about 100, 20 kilometers from here.
A: Four hours north.
I: Um. And tell me about your family background when you were growing up, when you were a child,
what did your father and mother and your brothers and sister?
A: Well, we are three brothers, no sister.
I: Uh huh.
A: I am the youngest. My eldest, uh, brother, uh, died at an early age of 25 at the time when I was undergoing training in Marikina preparatory for our tour of duty
in Korea in 1953. Uh, we have
I: So, your brother died during the basic training?
A: No. My, my elder brother died of an accident.
A: And then my second brother, well, he died a normal death at the age of, I think, more than 50.
A: And then I am the survivor.
I: What did your father do?
A: My father and my mother inherited a piece of land from my grandfather where we planted onions.
I: I see.
A: That was, uh, even before the War.
I: Uh huh.
A: And even after World War II.
I: I see. And tell me about the school you went through, elementary, middle and high school.
A: Elementary, uh, I started in our
[INAUDIBLE], uh. I believe it’s, uh, near the mountain.
A: And then when war broke out in, uh, 19, uh, 41, I was in grade three, elementary.
A: I stopped studying for one year. And then after that,
I was accepted to enroll in grade five. I graduated my elementary education, I completed my elementary education in 1925.
A: From 1946 to 1950, I was in high school.
A: And then from 1950 up to 1952, I was in college taking up civil engineering.
A: But when the War broke out in Korea
I: Um hm
A: in 1950, I was already in high school.
A: about to graduate. No. Actually I graduated already because the War broke out, if I remember right , in June
A: of 1950.
A: I graduated from high school April of 1950
A: In fact, our military instructor in high school when I was taking a preparatory military training, was himself a volunteer in the First [INITIATIVE?] that went to Korea with the 10th Battalion Combat Team.
A: He came back alive and, in fact, one of the roads around Camp Auginaldo was named after him, Colonel [INAUDIBLE]
I: Why? Was he famous?
A: How’s that?
I: Was he famous man?
A: Yes. Yes. Yes.
A: Uh, that’s why one of the main roads there parallel to the gate of Camp Auginaldo was named after him. And then, of course, in 1952
when I was in college, I thought of volunteering my service for service in Korea.
I: You were in college and studying Civil Engineering, and you wanted to volunteer for Korean War?
A: Yes, that’s right.
I: Why? You, you could be killed.
A: It just came to my mind that perhaps I could
give my way of, my, I could, I could, uh, serve, I could go, I could go to Korea to serve as a soldier of the Philippine Battalion Combat Team to help the Korean people fight each aggression.
I: But you could be killed there.
A: I know. But just because perhaps I was young
I: Yeah. You were eager.
A: I forgot all about the danger
I: Oh boy.
A: that will reach me in Korea.
A: All I had in mind was to go there to help a friendly nation.
I: Wow. So you were very highly educated. You graduated high school. You went to Civil Engineering college. So you are very well educated. But did you know anything about
Korea before you left for Korea? Did you know where Korea was on the map?
A: Until I finally decided to go to Korea.
I: Ah. And you haven’t learned anything from school about Korea, right? Nobody talk anything about Korea.
A: Yeah, that’s right.
I: No. So when you decided to go to Korea, what was the reaction of your family?
Did they like it or did they cry? What did they say?
A: Well, of course, they had their apprehensions because of the danger.
A: But then they know I was determined to go to Korea.
I: Um. But Colonel, you said that there, they were apprehensive, right? So do you remember how your mother react to you?
A: Yeah. But, uh, later
I: What did she say to you?
A: Uh, later she gave me her nod and just told me to be very, very careful.
I: Um. So
A: She said
A: that, uh, with the help of the Almighty, I might still come back to life.
I: Yeah. And now you are all in one piece
I: with your many good family members here, your sons and, you know, wives altogether, happy family. So you are blessed. So what did you do after that? Did you join the military?
A: After the, before my unit, the 14th [INAUDIBLE] was sent back to the Philippines, I had left Korea for a tour of duty at the United Nations Command
in Tokyo, Japan.
I: Uh huh.
A: As a representative of our [INAUDIBLE] in the United Nations Command.
A: I served there from September 1953
I: Um hm.
A: up to June of 1954.
I: In, in Japan?
A: In Tokyo, Japan.
A: So when I returned to the Philippines, I joined my unit later which was stationed here
I: Um. What about, so you never been in Korea?
A: I have never seen Korea again.
I: Oh. So
A: I had the chance to go back to Korea
A: from the Revisit, from the Revisit program
I: I see.
A: about two years ago. But then, uh, I was, uh, thinking I might
not be able to endure the cold climate in Korea.
A: Because of this one.
I: I see. So you were in Tokyo from September 1953 to June 1954.
A: That’s right.
I: Did you have a chance to go visit Korea during that time?
I: No. So what did you do in Tokyo?
A: Well, we represented the [INAUDIBLE] of my unit
14th [INAUDIBLE] through the United Nations Command.
A: We had and office at the United, uh, Pershing Heights in Tokyo.
I: Tokyo. And
A: That is where the representatives of the different contingents, that took soldiers to Korea where they’re stationed.
A: Pershing Heights in Tokyo.
I: So what was your rank
and what was your job there? What did you do?
A: I was a Sergeant
A: and designated [INAUDIBLE] liaison Sergeant to the United Nations Command.
I: Um. And what did you do?
A: Well, that isn’t work. Leg work, uh, to expedite business, you know.
A: Facilitate business transactions.
A: with the United Nations Command
A: [INAUDIBLE] work.
I: Give me some example, like, uh, job, what you did.
A: For example
A: Yes. Uh, transport, uh, uh, soldiers going back to the Philippines and those coming to the Philippines as replacements going to Korea.
A: And then, of course, uh, if there are problems.
But, uh, I remember I had no problem at all when I was there.
A: Problem of Philippine soldiers, uh, who are, had been there in, in Japan.
I: So many, many of Philippine soldiers come to Japan for R and R, right?
A: R and R, that’s right .
I: Yeah. There must be some problem because they must have been drinking or girlfriend or, right ?
A: But as I said, I encountered no such problems.
A: They were very much behaved.
I: Hey. That’s the difference of military man, huh? Um, so where did you sleep and what, where did you, I mean, tell me about the living condition there in Tokyo.
A: We were billeted at the United Nations barracks in Tokyo, Japan.
A: I mean all those nations from the different countries that contributed soldiers, uh,
to Korea, they are billeted there.
A: Uh, it was a nice building in downtown Tokyo.
A: Uh, I had a nice time there after, at night we go on nightclub clubbing
A: and before going to bed, we eat, uh, midnight snack.
I: So you had a happy life in Tokyo.
In fact, I had a girlfriend there.
I: You got a girlfriend.
A: I had a girlfriend there.
A: Also a Philippina.
I: And your
A: The father, the father is a Japanese.
I: I see.
A: At, uh, when the War was over, the Japanese who married Philippinos before,
I: Um hm
A: were sent back to Japan
I: I see.
A: for [INAUDIBLE] from the Philippinos.
I want to remind you that your wife is listening here now.
A: Yeah. But that was, that is history.
I: Yeah. Long time ago.
A: Long time ago.
I: Before you met your wife, right?
A: Yes, long time ago.
I: So what was the most difficult thing in Tokyo when you were there?
A: How’s that?
I: What was the most difficult thing?
A: Difficult thing?
I: Yeah. Was it cold winter or what was it? Not much?
A: I can’t remember of an incident where I was not happy.
I: You are always happy man.
A: Always happy.
A: And busy of course.
I: Uh huh.
A: Actually, when I was there, we had two offices; one at Pershing Heights in the United Nations Command and the other one in the Philippine Embassy.
A: where we hold office also.
A: Uh, and there,
the Director for [INAUDIBLE] of, uh, the Ambassador of the Philippines to Japan.
I: And you met many of those, uh , soldiers who came to Japan for R and R. What did t hey say about the Korean War?
A: Well, after the, all those who went to Japan went back to Korea very happy. They had a nice,
nice experience in Japan.
A: Well, although in Korea we also had R and R. But shortened. You only got three days.
A: In Japan, five days, up to one week.
A: So we had more time during our R and R in Japan.
I: Yeah. Were you able to write letters from Tokyo, Japan to your family? Did you write letters?
A: Yes. But, uh, I was writing to my mother.
A: My mother.
I: Did you tell her that you have many girlfriends there?
A: No. No.
I: Only one.
A: Yeah, only one.
I: Okay. How much were you paid at the time?
A: How much?
I: How much you were paid, salary?
A: Yeah. Well in Pesos, at that time, the exchange rate was two pesos to a dollar.
A: I was receiving one hundred fifty pesos a month. So $75 a month.
I: That’s pretty good.
A: Yeah. Triple pay.
I: Uh. Why?
A: Triple pay. Compared to other salary in the Philippines
A: if in the Philippines a Private was receiving fifty pesos a month
I: Um hm.
A: in Korea it is x three.
I: I see.
I: So you were paid same as all other soldiers in Korea or did you got more?
A: No, the same.
I: So what did you do with that money? Did you spend for drinking or pay for girlfriend or
A: No. I had, I had much money when I came home because I was not gambling.
I: Not gambling.
A: I was very lucky. I never lost, yes.
I never lost.
I: You are very lucky, happy man, huh? You don’t have to fight. You didn’t have to fight, and you have, uh, very nice luck never losing gamble. So how much money did you make?
A: Before? Well, maybe, maybe $5,000.00 at that time.
I: That’s pretty good. Asking him where that money is now, okay?
A: Five thousand dollars.
I: Alright. So after you come back from Japan, what did you do in Philippines?
A: I took up a military course which would lead to my commission in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
I: Um hm.
A: Which is what we call The School for Reserved Commission. It is a six-month course actually.
A: We were 100 [INAUDIBLE] students in the class. And very fortunately for me. I get rated number two.
A: That paved the way for my commission direct, in the regular force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
A: Not as a Reserve Officer but as a regular Officer.
I: Wow. So you retired as a Colonel.
A: A Colonel.
A: Uh, I was commissioned. I came back to the Philippines in June of 1954.
I: Um hm.
A: November of 1955, I graduated from the SRC. March 1957, I got my commission in the regular force of the
A: I consider myself very lucky as a soldier because when I was still an enlisted man,
I went to Korea as a private. We arrived, we landed in Korea March of 1953. My first promotion without, as a Private First Class. That was in March.
I: But you are, you didn’t go to Korea.
I: You didn’t go to Korea, right?
A: I, I went to Korea.
I: You said that you were in Japan.
A: No, no, no. In, In Japan after Korea.
After Korea, I went to Japan, after Korea. First I was with a unit. We landed in Busan in March of 1953. The first promotion came out, I was promoted to Private First Class. And then when we were up front already sometime in May or two months thereafter, I already, I again got my, another promotion to Corporal. And then after another two months,
I got my last promotion to Sergeant which means that in five months’ time, I got three stripes.
A: So I, I was very, I was very lucky.
I: Why did you get the promotion?
A: Well, not because I am, I was too brave, no, no, no, no. But, uh, you see, not my promotion except that my last promotion to Sergeant was exceptional.
A: My battalion commander was the one who said that I deserved a promotion to Sergeant.
I: Ha. So I thought that you were only in Japan. But you were in Korea.
A: At first, I went to Korea. I was in Korea March up to September of 1953.
A: September ’53 up to June of ’54, I was in Japan.
I: I see. So tell me.
Where did you, from Pusan, where did you go?
A: [Shatiari] [Shariari, Bali.]
A: [Shatiari, Bali]
I: And is that where that has a, a, what is it, Christmas Hill?
A: Another hill, another, Japan.
I: Which one?
A: Christmas Hill was different.
I: What, do you remember the name of the Camp?
A: Uh, no.
A: [Shatiari], [Shatiari]. [Shatiari] Bali.
I: And what was your specialty at the time?
I: What did you do there in [Shatiari]?
A: I was not, uh, a, well actually, I work as a clerk in the office.
I: I see.
A: Not in the front line.
I: Okay. Tell me about your working as a clerk in the office, right? So what was your job?
What did you do?
A: Did office work. I the Office of [INAUDIBLE]
I: Like what?
A: Uh, paperwork.
I: Uh huh.
A: Payroll and then reports, something like that, morning reports and other kinds of reports
A: Which service and to higher headquarters in the Philippines.
A: And then, of course, uh, keep the records of all personnel assigned to the office of the unit that I was assigned. My unit was then headquarters and headquarters service company of the 14th [INAUDIBLE]
I: Right. So do you remember anything special about the personnel records of the Philippine soldiers, anything? Do you still remember?
A: Except for some, um, maybe, except, uh, when we had one casualty
well, that was, that was the only casualty we had in the first place.
I: Uh huh.
A: Uh. [DEBT]. It is shortly in [DEBT]
A: But of course, we had another casualty who was an office which resulted to his disability. So that, uh, after coming back to the Philippines, he didn’t have to stay long anymore in the service.
A: But I want to remember. We also had one companion, an enlisted man who married a Korean girl while he was still there in Korea.
A: In fact, he brought to the Philippines this Korean bride.
I: Oh. What’s his name?
A: I forgot the name.
I: Um, I just had an interview with, uh, Angel Litto’s father. Do you know him? [Litto Pilar,
A: Pilar, yes.
A: His father, his father
A: was also a member of the 14th [INAUDIBLE], the unit that I belong.
I: And actually, his friend, Seymour, was, uh, wounded in the hill, Christmas Hill
A: Christmas Hill.
I: so that Seymour had to, uh, go to Japan for, for treatment.
I: Do you know about that?
A: Uh, I learned about that later already.
So it’s good to confirm. And what was the most difficult thing during your servicer in Korea from March of 1953 to, uh, September ’53? What was the most difficult thing there?
A: I can’t remember if something, that’s, uh, made my life there more difficult. But all I can say is I enjoyed my stay
A: And in Japan.
I: Were there any Korean soldiers working with you?
I: In, in Korea.
I: Where did you sleep in Korea? Did you sleep in tent or
A: Tents. In tents.
I: Tents, okay.
A: But we were authorized, uh, to keep, uh, a personal assistant, boy.
I: Yeah. Korean busboy.
A: Korean boy. I had a Korean boy, nine years old.
A: Every time he goes back to his, uh, uh, place, I give him plenty of chocolate.
A: When he comes back to me very happy to report that the gift I gave him was well received by his family.
I: Did, did he work for you? Did he clean your
A: Yes, personal
A: My add on boy.
I: So did you pay him other than chocolate?
A: I pay him.
There was not big charity. But what you can afford.
I: Yeah. So how, how was he? Was he a smart boy or
A: Smart boy, yes. I remember him, Kim, his nickname, Kim, yeah.
I: Kim, um hm.
A: Oh, very good boy. Very good boy.
I: So when you see, when you saw those poor Korean boy had to work for you during the War, what did you think about then?
What did you think about the Korean people at the time?
A: Well, you see I kind of, uh, pitied them because of the difficulty that the Korean people were undergoing at that time. In fact, I even met right of a Korean Colonel.
A: on my way to Seoul.
A: He was maintaining a sort of a canteen along the way.
A: So when we had the snack, I happened to talk with him, with her.
A: And she mentioned to me that she was wife of a Korean Colonel.
I: I see.
A: But she has to work there to earn a living. Life was so difficult in Korea at that time.
I: So you, you often went to Seoul, right?
A: I went to Seoul only about twice or thrice I think, thrice.
I: Tell me about the Seoul that you saw in 1953. How was it? How was
people living in there. How did they live there, and how was the city, much destroyed? Tell me the details.
A: I think life of people that were frustrating already. Very difficult. And all you see all around are, uh, rubbish and water. So actually, I usually made friends there in my three times that I went to Seoul.
I: Uh huh.
A: I made friends, boy, boy. So when I go there, I sleep in their house already. I go there to that house.
I: Their house?
A: Yes. In Seoul, in Seoul.
I: Did you pay them?
I: Did you pay them?
A: No, no.
A: No, no, no.
I: So it’s a Korean friend’s house.
A: Korean friends, yes
I: house, wow.
A: Uh, I, I cannot remember how, how we met. But, uh, during my second
I mean, uh, in Seoul
A: I already stayed in their house.
I: I see. Huh. You remember their name?
A: I, no, no, no.
I: Another Kim?
A: No, not Kim. But my boy, I can’t forget. I can’t forget, uh, his name, Kim.
I: Why not?
A: Kim, Kim, very good to me.
A: Very useful to me.
I: Did you like him?
A: It make my life easy, yes.
I: Did you like him?
A: I give him everything, all the chocolate, etc., candy, etc.
when you go to the
I: So he can resell those and make money, right?
A: But, uh, he, he does not, he does not, uh, do some monkey business.
A: He was very honest.
I: I see.
I: So tell me more about Seoul you saw. How much was destroyed there?
A: Oh, all around, almost in all the, everywhere I go there is, uh, uh, a sign of ravages of War.
I was told that now compared to then, cold as Seoul. It’s very much better.
I: Have you been back to Korea?
A: Not yet.
I: Not yet.
A: Not yet. Maybe, maybe, let me see, maybe next year. I don’t know.
A: Because we still have a program.
A: The Korea Revisit Program.
A: There are two groups who go to Korea. One leaving in July and the other one in November.
I: And that is run by the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs, MPVA
I: Um, do you know how Korean economy is now?
A: I am very proud to have been a member of the 14th [INAUDIBLE] that helped
the enemies of the South Korean people. I’m prouder still now because of the economic boom that South Korea is enduring.
A: In fact, I cannot forget even the President of Korea now.
I: Moon Jae-in.
A: Yes. During his visit here November of 2018.
A: Direct from his mouth, you know what he said? Had it not for you, we would not be here anymore.
I: Exactly. Yeah.
A: And that’s why I’m proud. I. I gave a little contribution to what Korea is today.
If you didn’t go there, if Philippine didn’t fight for Korean people, I may not be here because my father and my mother could been killed, right?
A: Yes, correct.
I: Yeah. So that is the, now Korean economy is 11th largest economy in the world, in the world. It’s much bigger than Philippine, I’m sorry. But it’s bigger. And by 2030, we will be bigger than France, number seven in the world.
Did you every imagine that Korea would become like this today when you left Korea in September 1953? Did you ever imagine that?
A: Yeah, no. But it’s what made me proud.
A: Now. They’ve gone to Korea during that critical hour when Korea, South Korea, was in distress.
I: Yeah. So you were in Korea
when the Armistice was signed, right?
A: Yes, July 27. 1953.
I: Tell me about it. How, how, how did you know about it, and what happened? What, what did you think about
A: Okay. July 27, 1953 at Panmunjom Korea. Let’s say [INAUDIBLE[ in two lines. The line on my left representing the North Koreans and the line to my right United Nations Forces.
I: You were there?
A: Yes. At the strike of 10:00 in the morning of June, of July 28.
I: July 27th.
A: July 27 I should say, July 27. We went up our bunkers and waved at the North Korean people on the other line. They were also very happy, maybe to think that after all, War is over, and they can also
go back to their families. And that was also how we felt. Now that War is over, well, we can enjoy better our shortest stint in Korea.
I: You worked in the office, but you were there in the, in the Panmunjom?
A: No, no, not in Panmunjom.
A: In our front lines.
A: Because we know
I: Uh huh
A: That at 12:00 on that day, uh, the following day
a cease fire.
I: Uh huh.
A: Short after [INAUDIBLE], there was a strict instruction to us to leave our, our firearms down.
A: Ah, and to keep the magazine of our firearms.
I: You were there
A: So as to avoid any accident that could trigger
I: Yeah. And, any incidents, any skirmish
A: None, none.
A: There we were very careful.
I: So you were there in the historic moments there. Were you happy?
A: Yes, of course.
I: Of course, right?
A: In fact, that is what I tell the other Korean battalions, not those belonging to the other [INAUDIBLE] My [INAUDIBLE] was important [INAUDIBLE[. There were five [INAUDIBLE] that were sent to Korea
A: during the Korean War.
A: Ten, 20, 19, 14 and 2nd.
I: You’re right.
A: We were second to the last.
I: Um hm.
A: You know, when I teach them, ,you know what I tell them? You should be, I, I, I mean, uh, we are better off than you are, right , because it was during our time when we, when we stopped shooting while in Korea.
I: Ah hah.
A: And we were proud.
I: You made the point.
A: Yes. Because that’s the truth.
Very. Um, I’m sorry that you’ve never been back to Korea to see what’s been changed. But Korea is now one of the largest economy in the world.
I: And most probably it’s a substantive democracy in Asia. We are the most democratic society in Asia. So we are all thankful about U.N. Forces who came to Korea to fight for us and give a chance for us to rebuild
our nation. So that’s, uh, your legacy. Okay? But why we call that as a Forgotten War? Why is it Forgotten War? You, we have to remember, and we have to study more and, you know, why is it forgotten? Do you know? Did you ever think about it? Have you thought about why it’s been forgotten?
A: Well, maybe that is less celebration of the
A: That’s why it’s almost forgotten.
A: But for us who went there,
I: You never forget, right?
A: We never forget.
I: Um hm.
A: Now I would like to take this opportunity. I know how much
assistance Korea is giving the Philippines now. For example, the latest donation from South Korea of two vessels for the Philippine Navy. The latest was named Captain [INAUDIBLE] of the [INAUDIBLE]
A: It was donated to us by the Korean government about two months ago.
A: We’ve been there.
when we [INAUDIBLE] years, had the baptism of that vessel. And of course, we know that Korea has been very grateful for what we did during the War. And that because of the close, friendly relations within Korea and the Philippines,
I think this relations will long endure.
I: Excellent point. Colonel, next year will be 70th anniversary of the breakout of the Korean War. It’s ridiculous. In the history of 20th century war history, there is not another war that lasted more than 70 years after the official cease fire . And we are still divided, and we are technically still at war.
Do you have any message to the Korean people about it?
A: I hope that the conflict between the two Koreas would soon end for the good of all concerned.
A: I know that in the latest development, there were talks already that would lead to the termination of hostilities within North and South Korea.
Um. Two Koreas are now talking to each other.
A: And that can be good. And that is a very good change.
A: And we hope that you continue to [Dialogue] and for people around the world to enjoy peace.
I: Excellent, sir. And this is my last question. You didn’t know much about Korea before you left for Korea, right?
I: And now
you know about Korea. So what is Korea to you personally? What is Korea to you?
A: Korea now is my idol. Imagine.
A: You could not imagine saying from rags to riches. The economic advance of Korea has been phenomenal.
I: Excellent. You are very proud and happy man. You are a really happy man. I think that’s the true spirit make people really happy, you know. You have to have a spirit to be happy, and you are the example of it. And you have a beautiful family and I wanna thank you again. Koreans will never forget about what you did and other U.N. Forces did for Korea 70 years ago.
And we will continue to work together as friends and allies.
A: There can be no doubt about that.
I: Thank you, sir.
[End of Recorded Material]