The late Captain Rommel Sandoval, former Commanding Officer of the 11th Scout Ranger Company (11SRC), under the 4th Scout Ranger Battalion of the First Scout Ranger Regiment (FSRR), Philippine Army always told his men: “We are a team. We are indivisible. Together we stand, united we fall.”
His unit departed from Jolo, Sulu on the last week of May, 2017, for deployment to Marawi City. They were tasked to address the call for much needed reinforcements and beef up the government troops who were fighting it out with the ISIS-Maute Terrorist Group.
Upon their arrival in the besieged City of Marawi, the unit of Cpt. Sandoval was deployed to the northern part of the main battle area together with the Task Group Panther (TGP) 201. They were tasked to clear the area leading into the main battle area.
Initially, the situation was under their control, and the clearing operations went on continuously until they were able to push the enemy resistance towards the targeted locations. These locations were considered as strongholds of the ISIS-Maute Terrorist Group, where the heaviest of fighting was going on.
Cpt. Sandoval personally led his company in clearing target objectives.
On the fateful day of September 10, 2017, Cpt. Sandoval’s company was tasked to clear the Landbank building. In the course of the operation, Cpl. Jayson Mante was injured. Cpt. Sandoval tried to retrieve Mante but he was fatally hit with gunshot wounds. Shortly before his last breath, Cpt. Sandoval covered Mante’s body to save him from more injuries.
Cpt. Sandoval is the highest ranking Army officer who died in the Marawi crisis in the line service. For his heroic deeds, he was eventually awarded with the Medal of Valor, the highest Philippine military recognition.
Mante survived from four gunshot wounds and a grenade blast. Mante is very thankful for Cpt. Sandoval, who sacrificed his life to save him.
Ani Sandoval, Rommel’s wife, remember him as an officer who took good care of his troops by heart and mind. As a person, he was quiet, pensive, serious, driven, courageous, fierce, and loyal.
A member of Philippine Military Academy “Sanlingan” class of 2005, Cpt. Sandoval’s superiors consider him as an officer with first-class leadership qualities.