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U.S. considers returning memorial to Philippines

U.S. considers returning memorial to Philippines

May 29, 2012 - The Associated Press

CHEYENNE -- The future of a Cheyenne war memorial is again in question.

The U.S. Department of Defense is conducting a new review of the long-standing request to return the Bells of Balangiga back to the Philippines.

The three bells were taken as war trophies from the Philippines town of Balangiga in 1901 after an unprovoked Filipino insurgent attack there that resulted in the death of at least 48 U.S. soldiers.

Two of the three bells have been on display at F.E. Warren Air Force Base -- formerly an Army post -- for more than a century.

Department of Defense spokeswoman Maj. Cathy Wilkinson confirmed this week that the Pentagon is in the process of talking with officials here and abroad about potentially returning the bells.

She said the bells have a deep significance to many people in the United States and the Philippines, which she called an important treaty ally and friend of the United States.

"The Defense Department values the views of veterans and the people of Wyoming, where two of the bells are currently located," she said. "And that is why we are sending a senior military officer from the Defense Department there to meet with veterans, community leaders and elected officials to discuss the issue with them."

Although some facts are in dispute, many claim the Filipino guerrillas used the bells in 1901 to signal the surprise attack on soldiers from the 9th Infantry Regiment.

Troops from Fort D.A. Russell, which would later become F.E. Warren, helped put down the insurrection and captured the bells as war booty a few years later.

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