The US Armed Forces, especially those who served in the Indo-Pacific region in the 70s, most likely encountered Ferdinand Marcos Sr., a fake war hero who’s also the 10th president of the Philippines from 1965 to 1986 as he ruled as an authoritarian dictator for 20 years.

Known to be a convicted corrupt president, he stole over US$10 billion from the Philippine government through ghost projects and cronies. He also suppressed democratic processes and killed over 3,257 people with over 35,000 torture victims and 70,000 incarcerations, mostly activists, political rivals, and opposition leaders.

He was quite the popular Philippine President with the United States back in the Cold War as the US government saw the importance of keeping close ties to the Philippines during the Vietnam War to try to control the spread of communism in Southeast Asia.

Former US President Richard Nixon with the Marcos Family at the Manila International Airport (Now the Ninoy Aquino International Airport) (Wikimedia Commons). Source:
Former US President Richard Nixon with the Marcos Family at the Manila International Airport (Now the Ninoy Aquino International Airport) (Wikimedia Commons)

Prominent relationships existed between Marcos and Former US Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan to maintain US bases in the Philippines, and at one point contributing US$50 million in military assistance, US$200 million for support assistance, and US$250 million for foreign military sales credits in 1979. It was determined that over US$1 billion worth of military assistance was sent to the Philippines from 1946 to 1981. This was done in response to the growing Soviet influence in Vietnam and the greater portion of Southeast Asia.

While I can explain how the US and the Philippine Armed Forces were intrinsically connected during those times, this article focuses more on how Marcos Sr. exploited his US Armed Forces service to create outrageous fake war hero stories to help him build his political career.

Did his fake war hero story work? Well, he became president because the “war hero” narrative stuck with him when he ran.

What did he fake? To give you a sneak peek, during the 1962 senatorial campaign, he claimed to be the “most decorated war hero of the Philippines,” where he was awarded 33 war medals, including the Distinguished Service Cross and the Medal of Honor – all of which were proven to be fake by various investigations throughout the years.

Marcos the Military Man, at least his version:

Marcos was part of the US Armed Forces after the Pearl Harbor bombings, serving as 3rd lieutenant from 1941 to 1942. This was proven to be true by US Army records showing that he had served until April 1942 and was activated again by the United States Armed Forces in the Philippines (USAFIP) in December 1944 till the war was won by the allied forces.