Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lt. Cesar Fernando Basa on Stamps

The Basa Airbase in Floridablanca, Pampanga was named after this brave pilot, the first to sacrifice himself against the Japanese. Lt. Basa had downed many Zero pilots in the fierce defense of the Batangas airfield before he was himself gunned down by the enemy.

Cesar Fernando Basa was a Filipino pilot and hero of World War II. Born in 1915, he was one of the pioneer fighter pilots in the Philippine Air Force and the first Filipino casualty during World War II.

Basa's fight took place at Batangas Field on the morning of December 12, 1941 when fifty-four Japanese bombers and fighter escorts raided the base. Five Filipino fighter pilots, led by Captain Jesus Villamor, engaged the numerically superior enemy in aerial combat at 12,000 feet. Lieutenant Basa arrived on the scene from an air patrol mission with only 15 minutes of fuel left in his tanks but attempted to join his comrades in the fight. While still half the distance away, he was intercepted by seven Japanese fighters and shot down. Although he bailed out, he was strafed with machine-gun fire by the A6M Zero fighters. Captain Villamor and his fighters won the battle with the only casualty being Lieutenant Basa, leading to Captain Villamor being awarded the Distinguished Service Cross a second time, earning him an Oak Leaf Cluster. In recognition of his heroism, Lieutenant Basa was posthumously awarded the Silver Star.

The stamp was issued on December 12, 1955.