OVER two dozen Filipino veterans of World War II were recently honored at a Congressional Gold Medal Award ceremony hosted by the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FILVETREP).
The virtual ceremony was held on Sunday, April 11, to pay tribute to the Filipino American WWII soldiers who fought against the Japanese Imperial forces in the Philippines from December 1941 to September 1945.
Over 76,000 Filipino and American soldiers surrendered to Japanese Imperial Forces after the fall of Bataan and Corregidor on April 9 and May 6, 1942. During the infamous Bataan Death March, soldiers were forced to walk over 65 miles to prison camps in the Philippines.
“The heavy toll of this war was interminable with hundreds of thousands of lives lost, thousands more were wounded for life, and hundreds are still missing in action today. For their valor and selfless sacrifice, we owe them an eternal debt of gratitude for defending our freedom, and safeguarding our way of life and in the future. They gave their lives and protected the lives of our generation and the next,” said retired Major General Antonio Taguba, chairman of FILVETREP.
The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian award bestowed by the United States Congress to an individual or group that contributed to American culture and history.
“We are honoring several veterans and their families with the Congressional Gold Medal this afternoon. Each one of them embodies the values of the military creed; They accomplished their mission, which is to never leave a falling comrade and to never quit,” Taguba added.
The ceremony was the 81st awards event following the historic day in Capitol Hill on October 25, 2017 when the U.S. Congress formally presented the Congressional Gold Medal. More than 2,000 medals have been awarded since then.
Among the awardees on Sunday was living veteran Pvt. Justo P. Duldulao, who served with the Philippine guerilla and the U.S. Armed Forces Far East (USAFFE) on March 15, 1945 until November 15, 1945 after recuperating from a gunshot wound.
Two other living veteran awardees were Jesus R. De Guzman, who enlisted as a guerilla and a teenage spy in a Japanese garrison in Pandacan, Manila from 1942 to 1945; and Sgt. Jacinto S. De Leon, Sr., who joined the Philippine Army on June 9, 1943.
Below is the complete list of fallen soldiers whose Congressional Gold Medals were received by their families during the ceremony:
• Agustin Abella – served with 12th Quartermaster Regiment, 12th Infantry Division (Philippine Scouts) at Port Area, followed by Quezon City, Limay, and Cabcaban as a Truck Master and First Sergeant.
• Jacob Abergas – served in the USAFFE from Nov. 23, 1941 to April 15, 1950.
• Arturo Balagot – He enlisted in San Juan, La Union, Philippines and was part of Company “I” 44th Infantry Regiment.
• Fernando Baltazar – served with the United States Army and Philippine Scouts beginning in 1923 and was killed in action on the battlefield of Bataan.
• Corazon Baquiran – served with the 12th Infantry Regiment, USAFFE from September 1, 1941 to June 10, 1946.
• Chester Britt – Served in the Philippines from 1940 to 1945, after graduating from West Point.
• Claro Bueno – joined the Guerilla movement in the Ilocos and Cordillera region in 1942.
• John Buttine – enlisted in the U.S. Army on May 3, 1944 and was later assigned with C Company, 738th MP Battalion in the Philippines from Sept. 6, 1945 to Sept. 13, 1946.
• Regino Cabio – served with the U.S. Army Infantry.
• Fulgencio Capistrano – joined the Philippine Army on December 9th, 1939 and served with the Camarines Sur Cadre during WWII until August 15th, 1948.
• Conrado Castroverde – joined the Philippine Scouts in 1941 and survived the Bataan Death March during WWII.
• Andres Cervantes – served in the Philippine Army Air Corps and then was inducted into the USAFFE on August 15, 1941.
• Leon Cordero – served with the USAFFE and survived the Bataan Death March.
• Vespaciano Daguiwag – a Corporal of the U.S. Army, 45th Infantry Regiment, Philippines Scouts during World War II.
• Balvina Espinelli – served with the Taparan Guerilla Medical Unit.
• Evans Ramirez Garcia – served with the New Mexico Army National Guard from April 4, 1941 until May 27, 1946.
• Vaux L. Hall – served with the 27th Bombardment Group on Corregidor Island in the Philippines until the U.S. surrender of the Bataan Peninsula on April 9, 1942.
• Felicisimo Herrera – served with 2nd Regular Division in Bataan and subsequently the guerrillas in Manila. He served with the 2nd Regular Division until April 9, 1942 and the guerrillas until June 7, 1945.
• Evaristo Ibalio – served in the 11th Division USAFFE until August 31, 1942.
• Estanislao Llames – served with USAFFE K Company, 43rd Infantry Regiment, 41st Division from December 8, 1941 to June 10, 1944.
• Juan Martinez – reenlisted at Fort Stotsenburg, and was assigned to Detachment Quartermaster Corps (Philippine Scouts).
• Angel Masangcay – served with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, United States Armed Forces in the Far East, and was a Paraglider for the 11th Airborne in Tagaytay City from 1941 to 1954.
• John Mirabal – served with the 60th Coastal Defense Manila, 60th Coastal Artillery Battery K in Corregidor.
• Solomon Pacquing – served with the 121st Infantry at the 2nd Hospital Co. in Burgos, Ilocos Sur, Philippines until November 26, 1947.
• Alfred Polintan – escaped from the Bataan Death March and then joined “President Quezon Own” Guerrilla Unit from 1942 to 1945.
• Alfredo Quijano – enlisted in the US Army in 1933 and was assigned to the 57th Infantry Division, Company E, (Philippine Scouts).
• Marcelino Reyes – served with the Philippine Commonwealth Army from December 17, 1941 to June 30, 1946.
• Frederick Schlichte – joined the United States Army and was assigned to the 151st Infantry Regiment 38th Infantry Division in Leyte and Luzon from 1944 to 1946.
• Isabelo Viernes – served with the 45th Infantry Regiment (Philippine Scouts), Company “D,” in defense of the Bataan Peninsula, and survived the Bataan Death March and subsequent imprisonment at Camp O’Donnell.
• John Zubrzycki – served in the Philippine Islands with the 31st Infantry Regiment, Company “C,” also known as the Polar Bear Regiment.