HERO’S STORY: Soldier fights off robbers with rusty
rifle and 6 bullets
Master Sergeant Eleno Leopoldo. PHILIPPINE ARMY
MANILA, Philippines – For Master Sergeant Eleno Leopoldo, 26 years in the
Philippine Army has taught him, more than anything else, to respond to the call
of duty, under any circumstance.
This was put to the test one afternoon in May when on his way home from his
ricefield in Cortes, Surigao del Sur, he heard people shouting, Leopoldo said in
an interview with INQUIRER.net Friday.
Leopoldo, 50, said that as soon as he got home to get his rusty and loaded
Armscor Squibman Caliber 22 rifle, he heard gunfire. Someone needs help, he
A resident of Burgos village for at least two decades, Leopoldo said crime
was almost nil in this rural community.
That afternoon, however, Leopoldo said that a businessman-neighbor was robbed
by four armed men some 300 meters away. To his surprise as he came closer to the
area, the armed men were trying to take the motorcycle of his friend, Tomas
The robbers hit Corales with a pistol, and shot his son Vincent on both
thighs, Leopoldo said.
Leopoldo said he ducked when the robbers saw him armed with a rifle.
He said the robbers retreated, firing at him who only had six bullets loaded
in his gun.
The need to hit his target accurately became a pressing one, he said. Marking
his sights on the center mass of one of the robbers, he said he fired his first
shot from a distance of 50 meters, hitting his target in the abdomen and causing
his death. The suspect, he found out later, turned out to be a cop.
As he dodged more bullets, Leopoldo said he lodged another bullet into his
single-shot weapon and aimed for another robber as he ordered his neighbors to
“hurl stones and fight these criminals”.
When the neighbors threw their stones, Leopoldo said he got the chance to get
a good view of the suspects, aiming at the face of one and hitting him at the
center of his nose on his second shot.
Some fifty meters away, Leopoldo said he kept firing at the two other robbers
who fled aboard a motorcycle.
“I really wanted to get all of them for the crimes they committed in my
locality. I chased them but stopped when I had only two remaining bullets,” he
The police arrived 10 minutes later, said Leopoldo.
“I was mistaken as one of the suspects because I was walking barefoot and
looked dirty. Since I came from my rice paddies, nobody would immediately know
that I am a soldier,” he recalled.
Leopoldo said that the police were able to retrieve two pistols from the
robbers and a part of the stolen cash was returned to the owner.
“The marksmanship training that I learned in the Army was put to good use.
But it is the first time that I have used my shooting skills against criminal
gang members,” said Leopoldo, who served in Northern Mindanao.
Members of a shooting group, Long Range Rimfire Philippines, lauded Leopoldo
for his deed done “beyond the call of duty”.
Randy Paronda, a champion rifle shooter, promptly recommended to his fellow
shooters to reward the soldier-hero.
“I truly appreciate the heroic feat of this soldier. His shining example must
be known to all soldiers,” he said.
Lieutenant Colonel George Chua, Commanding Officer of Armscor Ready Reserve
Battalion based in Marikina City, pledged the awarding of a brand new 9mm
Armscor pistol for Leopoldo.
“We admire Msgt Leopoldo’s heroic actions in defending his community. Armed
with a single-shot Armscor rifle, he was unfazed by the dangers posed by the rob
gang members who were armed with semi-automatic weapons,” said Chua, who is also
the Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer of Armscor, a firearms
Other members of the shooting community donated money for Leopoldo’s travel
allowance. An awarding ceremony will be held during the annual Defense and
Sporting Arms Show in Manila on July 2012.
“I am not happy taking one’s life, but, I was forced do it in order to save
the innocent people who needed my help. As a resident here, it is also my
responsibility to defend my community against criminals,” said Leopoldo.
Leopoldo, who is in the Army’s 58th Infantry Battalion, will
retire in December 2012.