“Just bomb my location, Sir.”
These are the words that only a gallant soldier, equipped with a brave heart and armed with a settled mind, can tell his commanding officer. And these were the words of a Filipino soldier who perished in the arms of his fellow Filipinos.
As you were lying on your sheets, Private First Class Dhan Ryan Bayot of the 51st Infantry Battalion showed an act of valor during the second day of the Marawi siege, choosing imminent death over being rescued.
Bayot, along with his nine comrades, was stationed at a detachment in Brgy. Lilod, Marawi City. According to Manila Bulletin, Bayot's group was attacked by gunfire coming from a local government official’s house, which had been taken by the terrorists. Five of Bayot’s companions were killed during the encounter, three others tried to escape but one was killed and two were wounded in the attempt.
Finding himself surrounded by enemies, the 24-year-old soldier called his commanding officer for help but no one came. A few hours later, the answer came – reinforcements had tried twice to get there but the only path heading to him was obstructed by enemy forces.
Given that he was alone amid rebel lines, Bayot knew what was coming – his inevitable death. So, he radioed his coordinates and dropped the death wish.
However, Bayot's request did not happen as the government assigned troops to come to his aid.
Four days after the incident, the remains of Bayot and his comrades were retrieved by the government troops that included Bayot's father, Sgt. Larry Bayot. It took four units of the Philippine Army to recover the bodies of the soldiers who died as a symbol of dedication to duty, gallantry, and heroism.
Also, Bayot's father saw no trace of bullet wounds on his son's body that might have caused his death. Instead, he saw his son's face heavily deformed with a deep slit around his neck in an attempt to behead the young soldier.
Such an act of heroism, standing your ground and taking out as many enemies as you can. I can only dream of such boldness and intrepidity.
When I was 18, my father handed me an enlistment form in the military. I did not take it. Perhaps I was too scared, or maybe I am not that courageous enough, at least I can admit that.
I feared for my life, thinking that with a stroke of a pen, I might end up in the hands of the enemies only to be tortured. Why would I sign up for something that will only lead to my untimely death? Can someone find sheer delight if his own life is at stake on the frontlines of war and terrorism?
I was left with these questions before. Then, I came upon the story of Bayot. The effect was the same when I learned the terrible incident about SAF44.
Maybe, it is because of their love and compassion on their job that they willingly, without hesitations, accomplished what they had signed up for. They have fought valiantly and hoped to maintain and guard the country’s freedom against those who seek to take it.
In this piece, I, who grew up on a military base, offer my respect to all the military men who serve the country with integrity. The soldiers who gave up their lives in the battle of Marawi know that serving people, saving innocent lives from harm, and protecting the public from danger while risking all that they have is the noblest job that a human can do to humanity.
It's true. There are soldiers who find happiness in serving the country with fervor and gallantry. Soldiers are humans and humans do bleed. And when they do, they become heroes.
(First published on The LANCE's June Issue)