On May 23 2017, the banner of the Islamic State found itself flying over the Southern Philippine city of Marawi. The Caliphate was now in South East Asia putting thousands of people’s lives at risk… After such scenes, there had been a panic among the citizens which led to them fleeing for safety. To such actions, the Philippines Government responded by sending the armed forces to the city of Marawi to help the people evacuate.
It had been reported that at least 46 people were already killed. The Government had already declared an Islamic state invasion in the southern city of Marawi and subsequently, President Rodrigo Duterte declared Martial Law over the island of Mindanao.
The Philippines deployed the brunt of their armed forces including the famed Scout Ranger Battalion. Rommel Sandoval, a captain in said Scout Ranger Battalion was leading his troop to capture one of the last strongholds held by ISIS fighters. It was a 5 story building that a previous squad had failed to neutralize. With the precision and skill expected from the Scout Rangers, his squad cleared the top 4 floors with relative ease and were now descending onto the first floor.
The troops knew the first floor was going to be more difficult. The rangers dropped grenades to scare the terrorists and after that 3 rangers moved to the first floor but this move was still risky.
Realizing their mistake, the 3 Rangers decided to back up but the terrorists had already spotted them and started firing at them. In this exchange, Corporal Jayson Mante got shot in his hand.
Understanding the scale of his injury, Corporal Mante chose to lie down on his stomach as even if tried to back up, he would expose himself for longer.
When Captain Sandoval was informed about this, he promptly sent 4 troops to bring Corporal Mante back to safety.
The terrorists knew that the military wouldn’t simply abandon their comrade. After a few failed attempts, Captain Sandoval took things into his own hands.
On his way to save Corporal Mante, Sandoval discovered a hole that would take him to Mante. After seeing Mante’s situation, Sandoval instructed his troops a cover fire while he would rescue Mante. The crossfire didn’t help, Captain Sandoval got shot on his side, then his neck. Among all these injuries, Captain Sandoval continued to fight but, a shot on the cheek proved fatal.
But even after this, Captain Sandoval climbed up to Mante’s body and turned himself into a human shield.
Till his last breath, he continued to protect his comrades.
On 10th September 2017, Captain Sandoval sacrificed his life for his country. When his body was recovered, it was found that Captain Sandoval’s body was filled with bullets which prevented the bullets from reaching Mante.
The battle between the militants and the Phillippine’s armed forces continued to go on for another month till October 17, 2017 when President Duterte declared Marawi’s liberation from terrorist liberation and on the same day it was also announced by Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana that the 5 Month Long battle had come to an end following deaths of militant leaders Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon.
These acts of bravery by Captain Sandoval were not forgotten as he was the highest-ranking Scout Ranger who gave his life during the battle of Marawi. For his sacrifice, he was awarded the Philippines’ highest honor, the Medal of Valor on 20th December, 2017.
This is was one such story of selfless sacrifice and bravery that doesn’t repeat itself often. Did you know about this story before? We hope to continue bringing stories like these to light so more people can know about them.