LT GEN PELAGIO A CRUZ O-1459 AFP

1st Commanding General, PAF

09 June 1947-16 March 1951,

03 November 1953-17 December 1956

 

LT GEN PELAGIO A CRUZ AFP was born in Barrio Pulong Gubat, Candaba Swamps, Pampanga on 16 June 1912 before transferring to Baliwag, Bulacan.

He attended his elementary at Baliwag Elementary School and his secondary at Malolos Provincial High School consistently graduating on top of his class. He enrolled at the University of the Philippines and took up preparatory Law but decided to join the military profession when he passed the entrance examination at the Philippine Constabulary Academy (now Philippine Military Academy). He graduated and topped his class in 1935 and was commissioned as 3rd Lieutenant.

Early in his career, he was assigned with the Infantry Howitzer Company and then to the 52nd Company of the Philippine Constabulary. In 1936, he joined the first batch of Filipino officers that took military pilot training at the Philippine Army Air Corps (PAAC) Flying School at Zablan Field and graduated on 30 October 1937. He served as an instructor pilot from 1938 to 1941 and became Operations Officer of the 6th Observation and Attack Squadron and Commander of Maniquis Field, Camp Tinio, Nueva Ecija.

At the outbreak of WW II in 1941, General Cruz commanded the PAAC Provisional Regiment, the “Flying Infantry”, and fought until the fall of Bataan. He was one of the Filipino-American troops that strode the Death March from Bataan to Camp O’ Donnel, Tarlac where he was confined as prisoner of war. After his release from concentration camp, he joined the Bulacan Military Area guerilla unit.

Liberation of the country brought him to various US Air Force Flying Schools in Texas and Oklahoma, USA, where he took up pilot refresher courses. He returned to the Philippines in February 1946. In less than two years he became the Commanding Officer of the Philippine Air Force on 28 October 1947. During his stint as Commander, he was highly instrumental in shaping the Philippine Air Force into a major service branch of the AFP. On 03 Nov 1953, he again assumed the Command of the Philippine Air Force as Commanding General. Later in his career, he was designated as head of National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) on 31 July 1953. He also became the Commanding General of the Philippine Constabulary on 02 June 1958, then Vice Chief of Staff AFP on 01 Jan 1959, and was appointed Chief of Staff, AFP, on 31 December 1961.

General Cruz is a well loved Commander, father and leader that holds the distinction of being the youngest to hold responsibility of a major service branch of the AFP and first Filipino General to assume command of the Philippine Air Force. He is a recipient of various awards and decorations such as the Distinguished Service Star w/ 1st Silver Anahaw Leaf, Gold Cross Medal and U.S. Silver Star Medal, among others.

He is married to the former Miss Leonor Datu and blessed with six children: Wilfredo, Lamberto, Carmelo, Erlinda, Rodrigo and Arturo.