President Rodrigo Duterte pays his last respects to Captain Rommel Sandoval, a soldier killed in Marawi City, photo compiled from Google
Company Commander Rommel Sandoval of the Armed Forces of the Philippines died a heroic death, as he used his body to shield one of his wounded men during the battle against the Mautes in Marawi City.

Sandoval led the 11th Scout Ranger Company to which he promised that not a single man under his watch would pass away.

On Sunday, September 10, Day 111 of the war, Sandoval’s men were asked to go on a precarious mission to retake one of the few remaining strongholds of the enemy, the 5-story Landbank building.

It was crucial for the military to take over the buildingin order to push the terrorists back towards Lanao Lake.

Under Sandoval’s watch, the team were able to clear the 5th floor, the 4th, the 3rd, and then the second. The first floor was the most difficult to clear.

Three rangers went down to the first floor but realizing it was too risky, they retreated and were about to go back to the second floor when one of the troops, Corporal Jayson Mante, was shot on the hand.

Mante dropped to his stomach as his injury would slow him down and cause him to be more exposed, then the enemies continued to fire at him as he lay down, and waited for death to come.

Sandoval ordered his men to retrieve Mante, but as the men were failing, he went to Mante's position, ordered his men to give him cover fire and ran towards the wounded soldier.

2nd Lieutenant Arvie Ventura, the platoon leader, said that Sandoval did not hesitate to save his soldier.

“He didn’t hesitate,” Ventura recalled. “When he got there, he checked Corporal Mante’s pulse, and as he tried to pull him to safety, the enemy spotted him. His first hit was on his side.”

Sandoval let out a scream. But it wasn’t a scream of pain or agony, said Ventura, it was an angry scream, a frustrated scream. “He was so angry, I could see it in his face.”

Despite the hit, Sandoval faced the enemies, and fired. He was then hit on his neck and cheek. The hit on the cheek was fatal.

As the enemies fired, Sandoval crawled on top of Mante, to shield him.

When the troops recovered Sandoval's body, it was found that his body prevented Mante's from being hit by the bullets.

“He chose to take all the bullets for his troops.”

Mante survived the battle.

Sandoval is the highest-ranking Scout Ranger who died in the ongoing war in Marawi.

The captain was 38, and was a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy, and was about to be promoted as Major.

Ventura said that the incident was not the first time Sandoval risked his life for his troops.

“He cooked for us, and made sure we ate together. That was the way we bonded as a company. He always wanted to see our troops together, as a whole. He didn’t want us to be individualistic,” Ventura said. “He inspired all of us with his actions.”

Brigadier General Rene Glen Paje, the Commander of the First Scout Ranger Regiment, said Sandoval's name stood out among the Captains, because of the stories and the achievements of his company.

“His great courage went above and beyond the call of duty. He was a leader so devoted to his work. He never gave orders from the rear. He always prioritized the welfare of his men,” Paje said.

According to Lieutenant Colonel Jose Jesus Luntok, Sandoval's immediate superior, and the commander of the 4th Scout Ranger Batallion, Sandoval was one of his best men and that he admired how the captain chose to save Mante.

“I’ve seen and heard heroic deeds in my years. Many had no choice but to fight because they were cornered. Rommel had a choice.”

Rommel left behind Ani, a wife of 14 years.

The battle of Marawi started on May 23 and was declared over by President Rodrigo Duterte on October 17, the day after the deaths of militant leaders Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon.

As of 21 October 2017, the casualties reported are as follows: 919 militants killed, (12 foreigners),
11 militants captured, 165 government forces killed (12 by friendly fire), 60 government forces missing, 1,400+ government forces wounded, and 87 civilians dead (40 due to illness).


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A true story of an Army captain who chose death to shield his soldier A true story of an Army captain who chose death to shield his soldier Reviewed by FN Correspondent on 23 October Rating: 5

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