The Bauang Church Bell was returned 23 May 2016

Zc162. For decades this bell hung outside Most Holy Trinity Catholic Chapel at West Point, its history lost and forgotten. A ceremony at the chapel Friday, April 29, 2016, marked the return of the bell to its original home at Saints Peter and Paul Church in Bauang, La Union, Philippines, from where it was taken in 1901.
U.S. MILITARY ACADEMY AT WEST POINT
Credit: By WYATT OLSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 29, 2016

For your convenience and interest I copied the whole story from Stars and Stripes plus the picture of the Bell still at West Point. This is the URL:

https://www.stripes.com/news/pacific/west-point-returns-bell-taken-from-philippines-church-100-years-ago-1.407085

Veterans played a key role in the effort and from them I received 11 images which are also posted here.

This is the Stars and Stripes article:

By WYATT OLSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 29, 2016
A massive bell that hung at a chapel at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point for decades was rung one last time Friday before being sent back to its home: the Philippines.
After a ceremony and Mass at West Point’s Most Holy Trinity Catholic Chapel, attended by the Philippine consulate general, the bell was crated up and readied for return to Saints Peter and Paul Church in Bauang, La Union, Philippines.
The bell was removed from the church in 1901 during the Philippine-American War that lasted from 1899 to 1902. Bells were routinely taken as souvenirs, but at times they were removed for a military purpose – to prevent them from being melted down to make weapons.
At some point, the bell fell into the hands of Lt. Col. Thomas Barry, who’d been deployed to the Philippines in 1900-01. The West Point class of 1877 graduate, who eventually became its 27th superintendent, gave the bell to his alma mater in 1915. There, it was stored in a church belfry for 44 years before being rediscovered during an expansion in 1959.
It was then hung outside the chapel, with a placard that read in part: “Symbol of peace that even the ravages of war could not destroy.”
The bell likely would have remained shrouded in obscurity if not for two U.S. Navy veterans who have spent the past few years in a quest to return several bells to the Philippines.
Dan McKinnon, who lives in Virginia, and Dennis Wright, president of a company developing a portion of the former Clark Air Base north of Manila, met while they were in the Navy. Five years ago, the veterans began working to ensure that the Clark Veterans Cemetery, which had fallen into disrepair, would be maintained by the U.S. federal government.
With the success of that effort, their interest turned to attempting to repatriate the famed bells of Balangiga, three bells taken by the U.S. Army from the church in the town of that same name. More than 40 U.S. soldiers were killed during a surprise attack there in 1901, to which the Army responded with a bloody reprisal. That history is still being debated, but what’s known is that two of the bells are now at F. E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyo., and a third is at Camp Red Cloud in South Korea.
While researching the two bells during a visit to Wyoming, McKinnon learned that another Philippine bell hung at West Point.
“I started talking to West Point all last year,” McKinnon said. An inscription on the bells suggested it was from a church Bauang.
Intrigued with that information, Wright enlisted the help of two professors from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila to research the subject. Consultation with the church records found that the description of the bell matched the one at West Point.
“We said, maybe that bell should go home,” McKinnon said.
The pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Church sent a letter to the Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen, West Point’s superintendent, asking for the return of the bell, which had been presented to church sometime between 1877 and 1887, according to its records.
A couple months later, the pastor received a letter back from Caslen, who concluded, “While we have been honored to guard and display this bell for the past several decades, we would be glad to return the bell to its rightful home.”
“It’s a no-brainer,” McKinnon said. “Now it’s going home. It was that simple.”
olson.wyatt@stripes.com
Twitter: @WyattWOlson

Zc163. The Bauang Church on the day of the return of the bell from the USA, 23 May 2016. Photo credit- Bauang City and participants.

Zc164. US Veterans who helped in the effort to return the Bauang Church Bell on the day of the return of the bell from the USA, 23 May 2016. Photo credit- Bauang City and participants.

Zc165. US Veterans who helped in the effort to return the Bauang Church Bell on the day of the return of the bell from the USA, 23 May 2016. Photo credit- Bauang City and participants.

Zc166. The San Pedro Bauang Church Bell on the day of the return of the bell from the USA, 23 May 2016. Photo credit- Bauang City and participants.

Zc167. The San Pedro Bauang Church Bell on the day of the return of the bell from the USA, 23 May 2016. Photo credit- Bauang City and participants.

Zc168. A VIP Speaker at the return ceremony of the San Pedro Bauang Church Bell, 23 May 2016. Photo credit- Bauang City and participants.

Zc169. A VIP Speaker at the return ceremony of the San Pedro Bauang Church Bell, 23 May 2016. Photo credit- Bauang City and participants.

Zc170. A VIP Speaker at the return ceremony of the San Pedro Bauang Church Bell, 23 May 2016. Photo credit- Bauang City and participants.

Zc171. A local native arts group performs for the return ceremony of the San Pedro Bauang Church Bell, 23 May 2016. Photo credit- Bauang City and participants.

Zc172. A local native arts group performs for the return ceremony of the San Pedro Bauang Church Bell, 23 May 2016. Photo credit- Bauang City and participants.

Zc173. A local native arts group performs for the return ceremony of the San Pedro Bauang Church Bell, 23 May 2016. Photo credit- Bauang City and participants.

Captain Dennis L. Wright, SC, USN (ret) sent me more pictures.

Captain Dennis L. Wright, SC, USN (ret) is President and Founder, Peregrine Development International; one of the Founding Board Directors of the US Philippine Society; was Chairman of the Clark Veterans Cemetery Restoration Association; President of the Central Luzon Chamber of Commerce; and Advisory Council, Filipino American Memorial Endowment; and he says that like me he is an amateur American-Philippine Military Historian.

He wrote me this:

Attached are pictures from the San Pedro Bell Homecoming Ceremony, Mass and Blessing. Also below are some of the links to media coverage. As you can see in the images, the church was packed and the plaza full of as many people as it could hold. It was truly a blessed and wonderful event. The joy, happiness and pride in the faces and emotions of the parishioners were evident. The mass and ceremony were most impressive, also indicative of how much church bells mean to the people of the Philippines. Well done to everyone who helped to make this a reality, rest assured you can take pride in knowing we did the right and honorable thing returning the bell as a gesture of friendship and good will between two strong allies.

NBC News – May 25, 2016 (Bell’s Return Summary – McK Editorial)
http://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/over-century-later-church-bell-seized-during-philippines-u-s-n579596

GMA -7 – May 23, 2016 (Video Clip – Tagalog Narration):
http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/video/370891/newstogo/san-pedro-bell-naibalik-na-sa-simbahan-ng-bauang-matapos-ang-mahigit-isang-siglo

CBCP News – May 25, 2016 (Catholic Bishops Conference News Article):

After 115-year US stay, ‘bell of peace’ back home

Philippine Inquirer – May 24, 2016 (Summary of Ceremony)

Church bell’s 115-yr journey ends at its home

Captain Wright said this is in regards to the photo credits: The photos are in the public domain. Some were taken by myself or with my camera (wife or others using it), and others were taken by the City of Bauang, La Union photographers. There is no problem using any of them, and if you want to give credit, perhaps just indicated from city of Bauang, La Union.

Zc197. The person left is Captain Dennis L. Wright, SC, USN (ret)

Zc208. This is Secretary Delfin Lorenzana of National Defense

TO HONOR THE GENTLEMEN AND THEIR HELPERS WHO MADE THIS POSSIBLE!!!!!!!!!

All three were instrumental in getting the San Pedro Bell returned to the Saints Peter and Paul Church in Bauang, La-Union

Even more important they were also the instrumental figures in getting the Clark Veterans Cemetery turned over the people and Government of the United States of America.

Zc224. Rear Admiral Dan McKinnon, SC, USN, Retired, I believe he started his active duty in the Navy in 1956 and retired in 1991. I read that in 2016 that he was 82 years young then. He is really a most outstanding individual that in his age he was able to motivate our Representatives and Senators to pass the law to accept responsibility for the cemetery

Zc206. Captain Dennis Wright, SC, UCN, (Retired) served 33 years in the Navy. He is now the President and Founder, Peregrine Development International; one of the Founding Board Directors of the US Philippine Society; Chairman of the Clark Veterans Cemetery Restoration Association; President of the Central Luzon Chamber of Commerce; and Advisory Council, Filipino American Memorial Endowment; and he said to me, Karl, I guess, like you, an amateur American-Philippine Military Historian.
The Captain and his fellow veterans sent the word about the cemetery and the bell to the people of the United States that this needed to be acted on.

Za386. John H. Gilbert, VFW Department of the Pacific Commander in 2017; John was a previous commander of VFW Post 2485. He really took charge of the Clark Veterans Cemetery until it was taking over by the American Battle Monument Commission.
This entry is to honor all the VFW Members of VFW Post 4285 in Angeles City, Philippines and all VFW members who spread the word about the cemetery and the bell.

One key step in this process was a letter from the Saints Peter and Paul Church in Bauang, La-Union to the Superintendent, U.S. Military Academy, West Point NY 10996

November 10, 2015
Lieutenant General Robert L. Caslen, Jr., USA

Superintendent, U.S. Military Academy, West Point NY 10996

Dear General Caslen;

I am writing in regard to a church bell that is presently displayed at the Most Holy Trinity
Chapel on your campus with the hopes that you will authorize its return to the church from
which it was taken.

My name is Father Ronald Chan, I am the Pastor of the Church of Saint Peter and Paul in
Bauang, La Union, Philippines. The church of Saint Peter and Paul is one of the oldest in the
Philippines. It was established by the Augustinians in 1587. In 1883, a bell named in honor of one of our patron saints, San Pedro, was presented to one of my predecessors, a Spanish
Friar named Mariano Garcia who was pastor from 1877 to 1887 by the then Lieutenant
Governor Balancio. The inscriptions on the bell as well as our church records and those of
the provincial government substantiate these facts.

We are not exactly sure how our San Pedro bell found its way to your highly respected school, but we believe it was taken from the church during the Philippine American War and was then transferred to the U.S. by an American Army officer, Thomas Barry. He served here during that same time period. Sometime after his return to the United States he was named the 27th Superintendent at your school. Perhaps your historical data could shed some light on this?

As I am sure you are aware, the Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country. As such, the church and its bells are integral to the history, traditions, and the very fabric of each community. There are substantial precedents for this request. Your counterparts at
Annapolis and VMI have already similarly done so. In 1987, Annapolis returned a bell which sat outside Bancroft Hall for over 100 years. It was presented to the Academy by Commodore Perry when he returned from his historic trip to Japan. Similarly, another

Japanese bell was returned to Okinawa by VMI in 1991. In 2007, Harvard University returned to Russia 18 bells which hung outside of the Lowell House since shortly after the October Revolution. There are others, too numerous to mention, instances of church bells being returned to their rightful owners for good reason. It is the right and honorable thing to do. We sincerely hope and pray that you will honor our request and allow us the
opportunity to once again hear the call of San Pedro to our church services.

While the early years of the U.S. and Philippine relationship were characterized by hostilities, our countries have since learned to understand one another and become strong allies with a century of shared history. I am also mindful that so many of our senior officers serving in the Philippine Army were graduates of West Point, to include one of our former Presidents, Fidel Ramos. It is with all this in mind that I prayerfully request the return of the San Pedro Bell presently displayed outside the Most Holy Trinity Chapel.

Sincerely and Most Respectfully;
Reverend Father Ronald Raymund O. Chan

Copy to:
His Eminence Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle
Archbishop of Manila

H.E Jose L. Cuisia, Jr.
Ambassador Embassy of the Philippines to the United States
1617 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington D.C.

Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio
Archbishop for the Military Services
Washington D.C.

Zc225. Lieutenant General Robert Louis Caslen Jr., the Superintendent, U.S. Military Academy, West Point NY answered and granted the request. The bell was returned!

Zc226. The letter from Lieutenant General Robert Louis Caslen Jr., the Superintendent, U.S. Military Academy, West Point NY answered granting the request to return the San Pedro bell.

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