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Slain Army soldier was to celebrate his birthday on next day

By Connie Destura LEGAZPI CITY --- The Army soldier who was killed by a landmine while on patrol on Monday, August 7, would have celebrated his 37th birthday the next day, August 8. Army 2Lt Lee O. Tremedal died, along with another Army officer, when a landmine believed planted by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels exploded in a remote village in Gubat town in Sorsogon. His wife Jheniefeb, 34, a practicing dentist in her hometown in Surigao del Norte, had planned to arrive Tuesday to surprise and join him in celebrating his birthday. Instead, she came to mourn the tragic fate that befell her husband, according to Army Maj. Virgilio Perez, Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) spokesperson. Perez, in a phone interview Tuesday, said Tremedal, before joining the Army, was a BS Agriculture Technology graduate at the Surigao del Norte College of Agriculture and Technology. He was advanced ROTC officer during his college years. He entered the military service as candidate soldier in September 2005. Tremedal was first assigned at 78IB of the 8th Infantry Division in Samar, then in Bicol, at the 31st the Infantry Batallion operating in Sorsogon province. Tremedal and Army Staff Sergeant Allan Bercasio died in the landmine explosion early morning Monday that also wounded seven other soldiers while on combat patrol in Barangay Casili, a remote village in Gubat, Sorsogon. According to Perez, he (Tremedal) led a 17-man squad of Army troopers regularly conducting combat patrol in outskirt villages where suspected NPA rebels were reportedly sighted and extorting from helpless villagers in far-flung communities. Bercasio, the other fatality, was a native of Goa town in Camarines Sur, and a platoon leader under Tremedal. Perez said the remains of 2Lt Tremedal lie in state at the St. Peter Memorial Chapel here in Legazpi and will be brought later to his hometown in Surigao del Norte. Tremedal and Bercasio would be given recognition for their dedication and gallantry while on military duty. Perez said about 50 suspected NPA rebels waylaid the squad of Army troopers that included the two slain soldiers on combat patrol Monday morning. The rebel attack coincided with the interment at Casiguran Public Cemetery (also in Sorsogon) of ranking rebel leader Andres “Ka Magno” Hubilla and NPA member Miguel “Ka Billy” Himor. Hubilla and Himor reportedly died after an encounter with government troopers in a remote village in Casiguran town on July 28. Karapatan-Bicol’s fact-finding mission, however, claimed the two were massacred along with civilians Arnel Borres and Dick Laura. Hundreds of supporters wearing red shirts joined the burial rites in a call for justice for the slain rebels.

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