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Ex-Army Captain launches book on Gracia Burnham rescue

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Former Philippine Army Captain Oliver Almonares, then Commanding Officer of the 15th Scout Ranger Company Special Operations Command, launched his book “THE RESCUE: God’s Amazing Grace” here on Wednesday, detailing how Abu Sayyaf captives were freed during 2002 operations.

Almonares, who hails from Alimodian, town Iloilo, led the operations to rescue the hostages from the bandits.

Among those rescued was American missionary Gracia Burnham, who told her experience of being held captive of the terrorist group in her book “In the Presence of my Enemies”.

Gracia and his husband Martin were captives of the Abu Sayyaf for more than a year.

Martin was killed during the armed encounter between the government troops and the terror group in Basilan, Gracia narrated on her video greeting to Almonares during the book launching at the Central Philippine University (CPU) in this city’s Jaro district.

In an interview, Almonares attributed his book to his fellow scout rangers. “This is a story of my own transformation. This is historical, and the same time spiritual,” he said.

The 270-page book highlights the “action-packed” chapters of military operations, the spiritual transformation of Almonares, and the blossoming of friendship between Almonares and Burnham.

“My main focus is to write this book as an instrument to tell that the greatest rescuer of all times is Jesus Christ, the King of kings,” Almonares said.

Aside from being informed of the historic rescue of Burnham, Almonares said the readers will also be informed of the work of the soldiers, particularly the Scout Rangers.

Almonares said the connection to God is important in the life of every soldier because in every armed operation, the possibility of “not coming back (to family)” is present. “We always need Him every time,” he said.

The idea of coming up with a book on the rescue has struck Almonares when he attended “The Voice of the Murders” at Chesterton, Indiana in 2017 where Burnham was invited as the main speaker.

“THE RESCUE: God’s Amazing Grace” is sold at the Registrar office of Doane Baptist Church in this city.

Almonares said he does not intend to produce the book for fame or financial gain as part of the proceeds will be donated to Silent Ranks Foundation, which helps wounded soldiers in the country. (PNA)