Rommel B. Sandoval
Nickname(s)Daredevil[1]
Born(1979-07-26)26 July 1979
Bauan, Batangas, Philippines[2]
Died10 September 2017(2017-09-10) (aged 38)
Marawi, Philippines
Allegiance Philippines
Service/branch Philippine Army
Special Operations Command
Years of service2005–2017
Rank
Captain
Unit
1st Scout Ranger Regiment
Commands held11th Scout Ranger Company
Battles/warsBattle of Marawi  
Awards
Medal of Valor

Rommel Bigyan Sandoval (26 July 1979 - 10 September 2017) was a Philippine Army officer commissioned as captain and a recipient the Philippines' highest military award for courage, the Medal of Valor. Sandoval was the Commanding officer of the 11th Scout Ranger Company, 4th Scout Ranger Battalion of the 1st Scout Ranger Regiment deployed to fight ISIS-inspired militants during the 2017 Battle of Marawi. He graduated at the most prestigious military school in the Philippines, the Philippine Military Academy located in Baguio City.

On 10 September 2017, the 111th day of the battle, Sandoval was killed in action attempting to rescue one of his men wounded in a firefight with the jihadist militants.[3] Sandoval, a Captain, was the highest-ranking soldier to have died in the Battle of Marawi.[4]

Early life and education

Sandoval was a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy's Class of 2005.[4] He was a graduate of Bauan High School now Bauan College class of 1996.[citation needed]

Marawi siege

Main article: Battle of Marawi

President Rodrigo Duterte pays his last respects to Captain Rommel Sandoval, September 11, 2017.
President Rodrigo Duterte pays his last respects to Captain Rommel Sandoval, September 11, 2017.

Sandoval had spent over three months in the siege of Marawi without losing a single one of his men. His command, the 11th Scout Ranger Company, had not had a single casualty since their deployment.[4] In August 2017, he had saved a group of Scout Rangers who had been trapped in a building in the main battle area. Under his instructions, they had exfiltrated the building using an armored personnel carrier and escaped the Maute group.[5]

Death

External video
video icon Philippine Scout Ranger - Ranger Sandoval Tribute, YouTube video
External video
video icon Marawi hero: The courage of Captain Rommel Sandoval, YouTube video

On 10 September 2017, Sandoval's company was tasked with retaking a stronghold of the Islamic militants. The building, a 5-storey commercial complex called C&D Centerpoint, was occupied by a branch of the Land Bank of the Philippines prior to the siege. It was referred to by the Philippine military as part of the militants' final defensive position and was defended by more than 26 militants.[4][6]

Sandoval's men began clearing the building from top to bottom. After clearing the fifth to the second storeys, they were about to enter the ground level when a burst of gunfire wounded Corporal Jayson Mante. His two other companions managed to quickly withdraw to the safety of the building's second storey, but Mante's injury prevented his own escape. Several failed attempts to rescue Mante transpired, during which time he was wounded several more times. At this point, Sandoval himself found an alternate route by which to approach and rescue Mante. He ordered his men to provide suppressive fire while he and another soldier, Private First Class Sherwin Canapi, attempted the rescue. As he reached the wounded soldier, Sandoval checked the latter's pulse and tried to pull him to safety. Sandoval was first wounded in his side. He returned fire but was then shot in the cheek, which proved fatal. He managed to crawl on top of Mante, shielding him from enemy fire. His body was later found to have bullets lodged in the chest, proving that he had protected Mante from getting further hit.[4] Canapi was also killed in the rescue attempt.[7]

Captain Sandoval was buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on 15 September 2017.[2] He was conferred the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medal of Valor, the highest award conferred to members of the AFP, on 20 December 2017.[8]

Personal life

Sandoval was married to Maria Ana Rosario "Ani" Ello Sandoval.[2][8] He was said to have been a talented artist; an illustrator, painter[1] and wood carver who also had a passion for bonsai.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Dizon, Nikko (13 September 2017). "'Daredevil' Army captain, soldier killed in Marawi". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Soliven, Preciosa S. (30 November 2017). "Scout Ranger Captain Rommel Sandoval's promise: 'Walang iwanan'". The Philippine Star. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  3. ^ Fonbuena, Carmela (11 September 2017). "Army captain among killed in Marawi clashes". Rappler. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e Gutierrez, Natashya (23 September 2017). "How an army captain died saving his soldier's life in Marawi". Rappler. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  5. ^ Bajo, Anna Felicia (25 October 2017). "Marawi war veterans recall Captain Sandoval's heroism". GMA News. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  6. ^ Fonbuena, Carmela (11 September 2017). "Troops penetrate Maute defensive position in Marawi". Rappler. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  7. ^ Dempsey, Reyes (12 September 2017). "Top Ranger rescuing soldier shot dead by Maute Group". The Manila Times. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  8. ^ a b Dizon, Nikko (21 December 2017). "Marawi hero awarded highest AFP medal". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 27 December 2017.