WEST POINT GRAD AND ARMY CAPTAIN CONVICTED AT COURT MARTIAL
FOR TRYING TO SELL MAPS OF FORTIFICATIONS TO A FOREIGN POWER –
CAPTAIN RUFO C. ROMERO GETS 15 YEARS AND A DISHONORABLE DISCHARGE
IN WAR TIME, COULD HAVE BEEN SHOT – AND SHOULD HAVE.
He was a brilliant student in his native Philippines and won an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point during a time when any minorities – be they African-American or Asian, were few and far between.
A 1931 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point (USMA) along with a civil engineering degree from the University of California, Captain Romero was well on his way to promotion to major in the U.S. Army and a long and distinguished military career when greed got the best of him. Our MilitaryCorruption.com archives show that the captain in the Philippine Scouts was caught trying to peddle plans for Corregidor defenses to the Japanese for some $25,000 in 1940 dollars. The conversion factor for today’s dollars would be $453,218.
If the ring-knocker had gotten away with his plan, many more Americans would have died on the “Rock,” as the island fortress was called – than did during the six-month siege of the embattled outpost (between December 1941 and May 1942). Fortunately, another Filipino officer with the Scouts suspected Romero was up to no good and turned his ass in.
To the great embarrassment of the War Department. in Washington and West Point brass, Romero’s court-martial at Fort McKinley in Manila made the news, including a big write-up in the New York TIMES, back when The Gray Lady had a good reputation. What took place during the proceedings was so bizarre, it would make a good TV-movie today.
Capt. Romero knew he’d been caught dead to rights, but tried to lessen his punishment by proclaiming he was willing to undergo a “brain operation” to eradicate any “memory” he might still have of the detailed maps and documents he intended to sell the Japanese. That stunt was quickly turned down.
Romero was sentenced to a dishonorable discharge and 15 years hard labor at the then newly opened Federal Correctional Institution, Terminal Island (FCI-Terminal Island). Some of the more famous inmates at Terminal Island were Al Capone from 1939-1940, Harvard Professor Timothy Leary and LSD guru, Charles Manson for his involvement in butchering Sharon Tate and others, fifty (50) African-American sailors convicted of mutiny for refusing to load ammunition after an explosion that killed 320 people and Salvatore Bonanno, consigliere for the Bananno crime family of New York and son of famous mobster “Joey Bananas.”
Captain Romero served most of his stretch in prison and left the USA to find work as an engineer in Africa and Spain.
Romero died in Spain, January 3, 1985. We wondered why he had such a long-standing connection with that country and our editor emeritus, MAJ Glenn MacDonald, USAR (Ret), dug out the details for us. It seems when Romero was scheming to betray the Americans and his fellow Philippine Scouts, he coordinated his contacts with the Japanese at the Spanish Embassy in Manila. Spain is an ally now, but in those days, Hitler pal Francisco Franco ruled Spain with an iron fist.