The First Filipino Catholic US Army Chaplain

My grand-uncle, Monsignor Pedro Pajarillo of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila, made history in 1932 when he was commissioned as a First Lieutenant in the US Army. At the time there were no Filipino Catholic priests serving in any of the US armed services.

Because of the distance between the Philippines and the US Army Chaplain School (the school at that time was deactivated and closed for resident training), he was given permission to finish his chaplain training by correspondence medicine school (before the advent of internet, correspondence school meant sending and receiving lessons by old fashioned envelopes and stamps). After initial chaplain training, he was assigned with the 45th Infantry (Philippine Scouts) based in Fort William McKinley in Manila (present day Fort Bonifacio).

For a short history of the US Army Chaplain School, please click here.

Chaplain (1LT) Pedro Pajarillo (right) with Chaplain (MAJ) William Arnold, during Annual Training of the 45th Infantry - Philippine Scouts at Fort William McKinley, Manila. (November 1930).

Chaplain (MAJ) William Arnold (left), Division Chaplain, with Chaplain (1LT) Pedro Pajarillo, during Annual Training of the 45th Infantry – Philippine Scouts at Fort William McKinley, Manila. (November 1932). Chaplain Arnold rose to the rank of Major General and became the 5th Chief of Chaplains of the US Army (1935) and Military Delegate (Bishop) to the US Armed Services (1945).

Then Fr (1LT) Pedro Pajarillo (Circa 1932)

Then Fr (1LT) Pedro Pajarillo in the tropical dress uniform of the US Army (Manila, ca. 1932)

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