15 Filipino WW2 Vets honored with US Congressional Gold Medal

Dec 1, 2018

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PHIVIDEC Veterans Event 2018

 

Seven three years after the end of World War II, 15 Filipino veterans finally got their long awaited recognition from the United States Government through the conferment of the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal.

 

Close up of the US Congressional Gold Medal specially struck by the US Mint for Filipino World War 2 Veterans.

 

The Congressional Gold Medal (bestowed by the US Congress) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (bestowed by the US President) are the highest civilian awards in the United States. The US Congress passed the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act in November 2016 and President Obama signed the bill into law in December of the same year. 

 

A Congressional Gold Medal is designed by the United States Mint to specifically commemorate the person and achievement for which the medal is awarded. Medals are therefore different in appearance, and there is no standard design. Congressional Gold Medals are considered non-portable, meaning that they are not meant to be worn on a uniform or other clothing, but rather displayed. 

 

“I was part of the group that worked for this when I was at (Washington) DC working at our embassy. I remembered when we started it was June 24, 2014, and two years later in 2016, it was approved. It was a very difficult job, we had to get 2/3 of the US Congress. Two thirds of the House, and 2/3 of the Senate,” said Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana in his testimonial during the occasion.

 

All set and ready to go.

 

“There are 260, 183 Filipino World War II veterans who are recognized by the US Army as WW2 veterans. That number of medals would be produced eventually, by the US Mint to be given to the surviving veterans themselves or members of their family,” he noted.

 

The medals were awarded to the 15 veterans, two of them posthumously by Tracey A. Betts, Director of the US Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) at the US Embassy in Manila. They were led by Pvt. Marianito R. Quidet, the oldest at 101 years old, and Sgt. Isabel C. Manuel, the only woman awardee and the youngest at 91 years old. (Please see sidebar for complete list of the 15 awardees)

 

Many of the US Congressional Gold Medal Awardees honored during PHIVIDEC’s Veterans Event 2018 are in their middle and late 90s with the eldest 101 years old. (photo by Mike Baños)

 

The VA is a federal Cabinet-level agency that provides near-comprehensive healthcare services to eligible military veterans at VA medical centers and outpatient clinics located throughout the country; non-healthcare benefits including disability compensation, vocational rehabilitation, education assistance, home loans, and life insurance; and provides burial and memorial benefits to eligible veterans and family members at 135 national cemeteries.

 

“I am honored and privileged to have this opportunity to share these medals with our well worthy veterans,” said Betts, whose grandfather who fought with the Allied Forces in Europe, father a Korean War Vet, her husband a Vietnam Vet, a son a Persian Gulf Vet, and a grandson who just graduated from the US Army boot camp at Fort Benning, Georgia.  

 

“I have a passion for what I do for the past 35 years in the VA. I’m here today to stand before you to say thank you for your service and for the honor that you have bestowed on me to be a part of your ceremony,” Betts added.

 

In the sidelines of the awarding rites, Brig. Gen. Restituto L. Aguilar, Chief of the Veterans Memorial and Historical Division of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) said this was the fourth time in the Philippines the US Congressional Gold  Medal was being awarded.

 

 The  first time was in the US Embassy in Manila last Sept 13th with 13 awardees; the second at the Philippine Military Academy last October 27th with 28 awardees; the third at Lingayen last November 15th with 36 awardees, and November 27th in Cagayan de Oro  with 15 awardees.

 

“Most of the awardees were living, for them to take advantage of the late recognition by the US Congress,” Aguilar said. “This is given to all World War II veterans who served in the war.”

 

There were 260,183 recognized veterans after the war. And hopefully we can give each one of them,  but that will be a long period because we cannot even attain 1,000 awardees per year.  So even if we did, it will take us 260 years to give medals to all of them. That’s how long and difficult the process is,” he explained.

 

The awarding of the US Congressional Gold Medal to the 15 Filipino WW2 veterans was the highlight of the day-long VETERANS EVENT 2018 hosted by the PHIVIDEC Industrial Authority.

 

“This is the first time an event of this magnitude is being held in Mindanao and Phividec is proud to have sponsored it, “ said Jesus S. Guevera, chairman of the PHIVIDEC-IA. “It is an honor to the distinguished veterans, and retired officers, men and women of the AFP, who dedicated the most productive years of their lives, in defense of our peace and freedom.”

 

“We at the Phividec Industrial Authority are more than happy to be part of this solemn event by providing the monetary support, to procure the initial 4,000 bronze replicas of the Congressional Gold Medal at the US Mint for the awarding of the Filipino veterans, and their families, who waited all these years,  for the US and its Congress to recognize their wartime accomplishments and services to the US during WW2.”

 

Franklin M. Quijano, Administrator and CEO of PHIVIDEC-IA, said Phividec Veterans’ Day was created by Maj.Gen. Romeo D. Alamillo (Ret). “ Phividec under RA 532 is obliged to give 50% to the national government, (P115M net of VAT, tax, etc) and is supporting Veterans Welfare in coordination with the PVAO , Veterans Federation of the Philippines (VFP) and other allied government agencies.

 

Despite their efforts, Aguilar admitted the main constraint preventing PVAO from awarding the medals at a faster rate is the lack of records for many of the veterans.

 

“Posthumous awardees are recommended by the Veterans Federation of the Philippines (VFP) and also the US Veterans Affairs, because the conditions are they have served in a  high position during or after the war, and have received a high military decoration during the war. One of our awardees today got the US Silver Star,” Aguilar said.

 

Pvt Martiniano Quidet wistfully looks at his US Congressional Medal 73 yrs after the end of WW2, recalling fellow guerrillas who waited in vain and died forgotten.

 

“Our priorities now are the living veterans, for them also to savor the glory of being honored while they are still alive. For instance in Lingayen, we had two awardees who passed away while their names were still being verified against extant records. So we did not remove their names from the list anymore. It’s my office which does the planning, research and everything. So when we came here, we brought the medals and the manuscript of the presenter is already done.”

 

Aguilar said local historians and World War II history buffs can help expedite the proper identification of  potential awardees by sharing with PVAO their research results.

 

“You know there are very few Filipino authors on World War 2. Most of the books that were published after the war and even up to this time were written by Americans and from the point of view of the Americans,” he noted.

 

“We would like to have books that are written by Filipinos, from the point of view of Filipinos. Because the dirty works have been given to Filipinos, but the victory was claimed by the Americans,” Aguilar stressed.

 

And last, a group picture, probably the last they will ever be seen together again as they head towards the sunset.

 

In concluding his testimonial, Lorenzana quoted US House Speaker Paul Ryan’s  tribute to the Filipino veterans of WW2 during the first US Congressional Gold Medal awarding in the US:

 

“They battled not only the enemies, but they battled starvation, and malnutrition. But they never lost sight of the cause, and they never accepted defeat. It is in the spirit of heroism and patriotism that I welcome you all today.”

 

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ROSTER OF HONOR

 

In accordance with Public Law 114-265, the following Filipino Veterans of World War II we awarded the US Congressional Gold Medal by US Director for Veterans Affairs, US Embassy, Manila Tracey A. Betts assisted by Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana last November 27, 2018 during the PHIVDEC Veterans’Day Event 2018 held at the Limketkai Mall Atrium, Cagayan de Oro City.

  • Private First Class Rito M Caracot – Combat Company, 105thInfantry Regiment, 10th Military District and Headquarters Service Company, 3rd Infantry Battalion, 62nd Infantry Regiment, 6th Military District, US Forces in the Philippines

    PFC Rito M. Caracot

     

Served from September 16, 1942 to December 3, 1945 with the Combat Company, 105th Infantry Regiment, and 10th Military District Infantry and assigned in the area of Lanao from Kolambugan that harassed the enemy and provided intelligence to the allied liberation forces. He became part of the Headquarters Service Company, 3rd Infantry Battalion, 62nd Infantry Regiment, 6th Military District. He is 91 years old.”

  • Sergeant Isabel C Manuel -Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Squadron B, Zambales Military District, Western Luzon Guerilla Forces

    Sgt Isabel Compañero Manuel, HQ & HQ Sqdn B 2 MD, Zambales

     

Served from June 15, 1942 to December 4, 1946, under the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Squadron B, ZMD, Western Luzon Guerilla Forces. Her unit hampered enemy efforts by through sabotage, intelligence and propaganda work in the area of Zambales. Her unit was attached to 38th Division and to administered weak and sick guerrilla soldiers and civilian evacuees.  She is 91 years old 

  • Corporal Antonio M De Jesus Sr – “D” Company, Offshore Patrol Regiment,
    Markings Fil-American Troops (MFAT)

Served from October 1, 1942 to September 27, 1945, Corp. De Jesus was with the “D” Company, Offshore Patrol Regiment, Marking’s Fil-American Troops (MFAT). His unit engaged in numerous combat operations, sabotage, intelligence work and propaganda activities in the area of Morong, Rizal. He was wounded in action and later returned to duty before his discharge. He is 92 years old.

  • Private Claudio E Flores – “K” Company, 3rd Battalion, 41st Infantry

    Pvt Claudio E. Flores, A Co, 2nd B, 96th Inf Reg

     

Served from July 15, 1944 to June 10, 1945, Pvt. Flores rendered wartime military service under the “K” Company, 3rd Battalion, 41st Infantry which fought fiercely against the Japanese forces in Mindanao, particularly in Misamis Oriental, Zamboanga and Davao. He is 92 years old”

  • Private Hilarion R Abarca – “H” Company, 2nd Battalion, 120th Infantry Regiment, Philippine Army

    Pvt Hilarion R. Abarca

     

Served from December 16, 1942 to May 21, 1945 with the “H” Company, 2nd Battalion, 120th Infantry Regiment, Philippine Army. The unit conducted combat operations in Lugait, Initao, Misamis Oriental and adjoining provinces in Mindanao, inflicting serious damages to the enemies which led to their eventual surrender, later; his unit was attached to the 8th US Army at Manticao, Initao, Misamis Oriental. He is 93 years old.

  • Corporal Nicasio V Magno– Headquarters and Headquarters Service Company, 1stBattalion, 113th Infantry Regiment, US Forces in the Philippines (USFIP)

Served from February 1, 1944 to October 1, 1945, under the Headquarters and Headquarters Service Company, 1st Battalion, 113thInfantry Regiment. He first joined the guerillas under the Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 113th Infantry Regiment and was assigned to the Battalion S-2 and S-3 as draftsman and made sketches of maps. Subsequently, his unit was attached to the8th US Army and later transferred to Headquarters and Headquarters Service Company, 1st Battalion, 113th Infantry Regiment; his unit serves as guard and participated enemy actions at Nasipit and Amparo in the province of Agusan del Norte. He is 93 years old.

  • Private Federico S. Beniag – “I” Company, 3rd Battalion, 110th Infantry Regiment. US Forces in the Philippines

Served from August 1, 1943 to July 31, 1945, with “I” Company, 3rd Battalion, 110th Infantry Regiment. His unit conducted numerous combat and mopping up operations against the enemy forces and helped in liberating several coastal towns in Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon. He is 94 years old.

  • T/5 Eufemio T. Cabana – Army of the United States, Philippine Scouts

Served from April 23, 1946 to July 12, 1948, under the Philippine Scouts, US Army. He was part of the New Philippine Scouts who became part of the Allied occupation force tasked to maintain law and order in post-war Japan and the island of Guam in the Pacific.He is 94 years old.

  • Private Sulpicio N Cabasan – “B” Company, 109th Division, 10th Military District, US Forces in the Philippines (USFIP)

    Pvt Sulpicio N. Cabasan

     

Served from November 23, 1942 to September 26, 1945, with “B” Company, 109th Division, 10th Military District. He served in various combat operations against the Japanese occupation forces in Lanao and adjoining provinces in Mindanao. Their unit caused serious damages to the enemy’s facilities and equipment and inflicted considerable number of casualties which led to their eventual surrender. He is 96 years old.

  • Corporal Pastor M. Tanguamos – Signal Company, 105th Division, 10th Military District, US Forces in the Philippines (USFIP)

Served from April 8, 1943 to July 3, 1948, under the Signal Company, 105th Division, 10th Military District. His unit operated in Lopez Jaena, Oroquieta, Misamis Oriental, Kolambugan and adjacent towns and was responsible for intercepting enemy communications that contributed to the eventual defeat of the Japanese forces. He is 98years old.

  • Lieutenant Colonel Zacarias G. Morales PAF (Ret) – 5th Photographic Squadron, Philippine Army Air Corps (PAAC)

Served from October 17, 1940 to March 31, 1967, initially with the 5th Photographic Squadron, Philippine Army Air Corps (PAAC) but was later inducted into the USAFFE on August 15, 1941 by Gen. Douglas MacArthur at the Zablan Field Hangar, Camp Murphy, Rizal. His unit defended Zablan Field against the Japanese Zero fighters when World War II broke out. He unit fought in the Battle of Bataan, survived the infamous Death March, and escaped in Guagua, Pampanga. He found his way to Davao City and reported for military duty with the malaria unit of the US Army Camp in Talomo District. He later reported to his former unit in Nielson Field, Makati and continued to render his services until his retirement after 27 years of military service. His daughter, Z. Gloria Morales, authored a book entitled “War and Peace in the Philippines: A Soldier’s Tale”, based on his personal account of growing up in Commonwealth Period Leyte and Mindanao, experiencing the Death March and his life thereafter. He is 99 years old.

The award was received by Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals Evalyn Arellano-Morales, daughter of the awardee.

  • Sergeant Aquilino N Caldoza – “A” Company, 1stBattalion, 104thInfantry Regiment and 87th Military Police Company, Philippine Army

Served from December 8, 1941 to January 23, 1947 under the “A” Company, 1st Battalion, 104th Infantry Regiment. His unit conducted vigorous combat operations against the Japanese occupation forces and Filipino collaborators in Mindanao. He later served under 87thMilitary Police Company, Philippine Army, that was responsible for cooperating with the civil authorities on plans including those for police protection, blackouts, and anti-sabotage activities in the area of Misamis Oriental, Lugait, Bukidnon and nearby towns. He is 101 years old. The award will be received by Mr. Enrico P. Caldoza, son of the awardee.

  • Private Martiniano R. Quidet – 101st Engineer Battalion, 101st Division, Philippine Army,

     United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE)

Pvt Martiniano R. Quidet, Medina, MisOr

 

Served from October 22, 1941 to January 23, 1946, with the 101st Engineer Battalion, 101st Division, Philippine Army (USAFFE). His unit provided construction and combat engineering support to other guerilla forces that operated in Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Lanao. He 101 years old.”

POSTHUMOUS AWARDEES

  • Col Fidencio M. Laplap (Ret) – “B” Company, 81st Eng. Battalion, 81st Division, USAFFE and 109th Infantry Regiment, 109th Infantry Division, 10th Military District, US Forces in the Philippines (USFIP)

    Col. Fidencio M. Laplap’s medal being received by his daughter Penelope Laplap Dharamdas

     

Served from August 28, 1941 to April 30, 1946. Col. Laplap started as a trainee under the Field Artillery, Philippine Army. He was commissioned 3ld Lieutenant on August 28, 1941 and was inducted into the USAFFE on December 8, 1941 at Camp Overton, Iligan City and assigned to the “B” Company, 81st Eng. Battalion, 81st Division as executive officer. When the regular forces in Mindanao were disbanded, he refused to surrender and organized the 109th Infantry Regiment, 109th Infantry Division, 10th Military District. He led his unit in numerous tactical, combat and extensive mopping up operations against the enemy forces in Cagayan and other parts of Misamis Oriental. For his gallantry in action, Colonel Laplap was awarded the US “Silver Star Medal” in December 1945 and the “Gold Cross Medal” by the Philippine Anny in the same month.

The Silver Star Medal, is the United States Armed Forces 3rd-highest personal decoration for valor in combat. The Silver Star Medal is awarded primarily to members of the United States Armed Forces for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States.

The US Congressional Gold  Medal was received by Penelope L. Dharamdas, daughter of the awardee.

 

  • 3Lt Trifon V. Judith – Philippine Constabulary and 1st Replacement Company, 5th Replacement BattalionServed from April 20, 1942 to May 23, 1945, under the Philippine Constabulary that maintained peace, law and order in Oroquieta, Lugait, Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and adjacent towns. After the disbandment of the regular forces, he joined the 1st Replacement Company, 5th Replacement Battalion. His unit was tasked in augmentation and replacement of their fellow guerrillas who were killed or wounded during combat operations in various areas in Mindanao.

    3rd Lt Trifon v. Judith’s medal is received by his son Alexander Baltazar A. Judith


  •  The award was received by Mr. Alexander Baltazar Judith, son of the awardee.

 

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