Brig. Gen. Fidel V. Segundo received one of the toughest commands during the Philippine campaign which ended with the fall of Bataan. But despite of the limitations of his command he succeeded in carrying out the all-delaying action which MacArthur’s strategy called for.
For his brilliant military record, Segundo was commanded by President Manuel L. Quezon and his superior officers including Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright, while Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower deplored his wartime death.
Segundo, one of the sixth children of a family of a modest means, was born in Laoag, Ilocos Norte on April 24, 1894. He was enrolled in the pre-medic course of the University of the Philippines when he left for the United States Military Academy of West Point in 1914. He graduated in the Upper half of the Class of 1918 on August 30, 1917.
Upon his return to the Philippines, Segundo started a service career that led to many varied assignments giving him the necessary all around training and experience that he found useful in later years. From a second Lieutenant in the Philippine Scouts, assigned in Fort Stotsenburg in Pampanga in 1917, he was promoted to first lieutenant the next year, then to a captain in 1920.
After a brief tour of duty, Segundo returned to the United States in June 1924, to study at the Field Artilery School in Fort Si, Oklahoma, and to take up the troop officer’s course in the Cavalry School in Fort Riley, Arkansas.
In May 1929, Segundo was detailed as an assistant professor of military science and tactics in the University of the Philippines, a position he held until March 1932 when he was appointed head of the department with the rank of Professor. This appointment opened new vistas for Segundo. Himself imbued with the high standards of performance and honor. He sought to inculcate in the young men who were to come under his influence the dignity and honor befitting an army officer.
Segundo was the assistant chief of staff for operations and training, G-3, with the rank of colonel, when, on September 3, 1940, he was ordered to be the commanding officer of the Second Infantry Regiment, First Regular Division, in Camp Luna, Parang, Cotabato. In few months, he managed to transform the camp into an impressively well maintained and efficiently post.
On July 2, 1941 Segundo was made the superintendent of the Philippine Military Academy in Baguio. Given the rank of a brigadier general, he was named the commanding officer of the First Regular Division which at the time was no better for combat than any the reserve division of the Philippine Army.
Assigned to the South Luzon Force of the USAFFEE, his division met the first major Japanese landing operations on the east coast of Tayabas (now Quezon). Moved to Bataan early in January 1942, his division was credited with the first successful offensive launched against the enemy during the entire Bataan campaign. His defence of a part of the Abucay-Moron line from January 7 to 23 was highly commended by both Quezon and Wainwright.
Segundo was still holding his line when the order to surrender Bataan came on April 9, 1942. After his release from Capas concentration camp in Tarlac, he stayed in Santa Ana, Manila. On December 19, 1944, he and his son, Fidel Jr. were arrested by the Japanese. After having been brutally tortured, both father and son were tied, back to back and killed.