World War II

A CALL TO ARMS

Jim Cushing was tearing up the town again. The 30-year-old Mexican American miner and his friend had drunkenly stumbled up to a cart driver in northern Mindanao in the Philippines and offered him a huge tip if he could deliver them to their rooms on the second floor of the Surigao City Hotel. Despite loud cries of encouragement from the two drunks in English, Spanish, and a local Filipino dialect, the horse and driver’s attempts to climb the steps failed. Fearing they would be held responsible if the animal broke a leg, the men called a halt to the spectacle. It was the dawn of 1940 and Jim’s intemperate lifestyle suited him just fine. As he later wrote, “I was not setting the world on fire.”

About the same time, 700 miles to the north, Jim’s older brother Walt, 33, was busy working the small gold mine he and two partners opened in Abra, a province in northern Luzon. Walt had gone through his own wild period after his wife left him 1937. Deep in despair, he blew all his savings on a nine-month bender, and in one dark moment signed up for the French Foreign Legion. Friends finally dissuaded his dissolution, got him back on his feet, and back into mining. Once again he felt settled and looked forward to a bright future.

The Japanese invasion of the Philippines the following year changed everything for the brothers. Always aggressive, Walt jumped right into the fray, while Jim took on a wait-and-see attitude. But destiny had something altogether different in store for each of them. Over the next four years, the guerrilla exploits of Walt and Jim Cushing would become the stuff of legend.

THE BOYS WERE AMONG the 10 children born in Mexico to silver miner George Cushing and his Spanish Mexican wife, Simona. They inherited the light brown complexion of their mother, the broad grin of their father, and grew up fluent in

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