Soldiers tie yellow ribbons on M-16
Zamboanga City - Soldiers
engaged in the battle against the Abu Sayyaf have tied yellow ribbons on
their M-16 rifles . The ribbons, according to one soldier, serves as an
"inspiration" because somebody is waiting for him to come home for
soldiers are on a mission to safely rescue three people abducted by the Abu
Sayyaf. The three hostages still at the hands of the Muslim extremists are
American Missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham and Filipina nurse Deborah Yap.
The soldiers have started tying yellow
ribbons on their firearms since the start of the rescue efforts. The ribbons
would be removed only after the hostage crisis had ended and the hostages
rescued safely. Only then would the soldiers start heading home to their
families, hopefully before Christmas.
Brig. Gen. Glicerio Sua, commander of
the Task Force Comet said that the yellow ribbon is a symbolism, a rallying
point . It is the desire of the military that the operations would be over by
U.S. Soldiers arrive in
An unspecified number of U.S. soldiers belonging to the
"Special Operations Command" based in Hawaii landed at the Edwin
Andrews Airbase in Zamboanga . Earlier, two groups of U.S. military
advisers made preliminary visits to this city and the nearby Basilan
island to scout for sites to be used for training Filipino elite troops
going after the Abu Sayyaf, which the U.S. government had
identified as linked to terrorist suspect Osama Bin Laden.
A Philippine Army spokesman stressed however, that the
American soldiers would not take part in any actual combat operations but
only to train and advise local troops. He did not rule out , however, of
actual American involvement in operations in the future.
Home before Christmas
The Philippine military has imposed a deadline to rescue
the three remaining hostages before Christmas and this seemed to have
become a rallying point for the Filipino troops. " We'll try our best
to rescue them before Christmas , so I would be with my family in the
Visayas by Christmas. They're waiting for me." says one soldier.
Continues rain hampered rescue efforts and with only three
days before Christmas, military helicopters dropped food rations and
supplies good for a week , an indication that the soldiers would be
spending Christmas in the hostile jungles of Basilan. A Philippine
military spokesman said there would be no Christmas breaks for the
Soldiers blamed the delay on bad weather and unfamiliar
Another batch of US soldiers arrive in Zamboanga City
Amid cheers from the predominantly Christian residents of
Zamboanga, US soldiers arrived bringing with them huge communication
equipments , high tech gadgets which awed most residents in the
Zamboanga City Mayor Ma. Clara Lobregat formally announced
the city's support for the American soldiers.
30 US Special Forces flew into Abu Sayyaf
Stronghold Feb. 2002
About 30 US Special Forces aboard giant military
helicopters flew into known Abu Sayyaf territory in Basilan purportedly to
train and assist local troops involved in the pursuit of the elusive Abu
Sayyaf and the rescue of the three remaining hostages still in the hands
of the kidnappers.
US Military Chopper crashes off Basilan Feb. 22,2002
An American MH-47EChinook helicopter
crashed before dawn Friday, Feb. 22 , thirty minutes before its expected
arrival at Mactan Airbase in Cebu. The eight-man Army crew were from Fort
Campbell, Kentucky. The two others were para-rescuers based in Japan.
Initially, both Filipino and American officials were saying that there
were no hostile fire, but recent newspaper sources indicate that the
Americans were not ruling out foul play.