12th Commanding General, PAF

15 January 1972- 27 March 1976


MAJ GEN JOSE L RANCUDO AFP was born in Alaminos, Pangasinan on 16 January 1920.

He graduated from Pangasinan Academic High School in 1939 and studied navigation at the Philippine Nautical School before he joined as an aviation cadet in the Philippine Army Air Corps Flying School at Zablan Field but was unable to complete the training in 1941.

When World War II broke out, he was tasked as platoon leader of the aviation cadet component of the Philippine Army Air Corps Provisional Infantry Battalion and fought with the 4th U.S. Marine Corps in Bataan and Corregidor. After the fall of Corregidor he was incarcerated in Capas, Tarlac. He was released on 05 October 1942 and later joined the resistance by forming his own guerilla unit, a unit that was feared by the Japanese for its daring raids and ambuscades from Pangasinan to Ilocos region. Although the “Aguila” Unit of General Rancudo was feared, it was not well known to others because of its nomadic system of transferring from one province to another after every successful operation against the Japanese. The Rancudo unit also supplied information to the Allied Intelligence Bureau prior to the liberation.

At the height of the liberation in the Philippines, he was sent together with other PAAC officers to various US Air Force service schools to undergo pilot refresher training and completed Fighter Pilot Training and Aerial Gunnery Course at AJO Gunnery School, Gila, Arizona.

In his return to the Philippines, he was assigned with the 1st Fighter Squadron at Lipa, Batangas until the redesignation of the unit to 6th Fighter Squadron. He later became Squadron Commander of the unit in 1951 and led the unit in numerous air operations during the anti-HUK and anti-Kamlon campaigns. One of the few PAF pilots long associated with fighter operations, he was the first to lead Sulu Air Task Group (SAtaG) in Mindanao. He is one of the first combat-ready Jet pilots of the PAF that trained in Japan in 1955 and later in the U.S., before leading the 9th Tactical Fighter Squadron (Limbas Squadron) to Congo, Africa in 1963.

In 1968, he became Wing Commander of the 5th Fighter Wing and from that position he was elevated to Commanding General of the Philippine Air Force on 15 January 1972. He had the most colorful military career in the annals of the PAF history as he is also considered to be one of the prime planners of the famed “Blue Diamonds”, a fighter and combat pilot of numerous aircraft types, a combat paratrooper, and a “BUILDER” of the modern Philippine Air Force.

General Rancudo is a recipient of numerous awards and decorations such as the Distinguished Service Star, Distinguished Aviation Cross, Philippine Legion of Honor, Outstanding Achievement Medal, Silver Wing Medal, American Defense Medal, Philippine Defense Medal, Philippine Liberation Ribbon, Asiatic-Pacific War Theater Campaign Medal, and World War II Victory Medal, among others.

Major General Rancudo is married to the former Rufina Pangilinan of Nueva Ecija with whom he has two daughters namely Thelma and Virgie.