48 Filipino WW II veterans receive US Congressional medals

By Martin Sadongdong

The gallantry of 48 Filipino soldiers who defended the Philippines from Japanese invaders during World War II was recognized with a United States Congressional Gold Medal (CGM) which they received at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City Tuesday.

The 48 Congressional Gold Medals and ten Plaques of Recognition awarded to Filipino World War II  veterans and officials who vigorously campaigned for the advancement of their welfare in a ceremony held at the Armed Forces of Philippines Commissioned Officers Club (AFPCOC), Camp Aguinaldo on Tuesday, July 23, 2019. (Photo courtesy of DND / via Martin Sadongdong / MANILA BULLETIN)
The 48 Congressional Gold Medals and ten Plaques of Recognition awarded to Filipino World War II veterans and officials who vigorously campaigned for the advancement of their welfare in a ceremony held at the Armed Forces of Philippines Commissioned Officers Club (AFPCOC), Camp Aguinaldo on Tuesday, July 23, 2019. (Photo courtesy of DND / via Martin Sadongdong / MANILA BULLETIN)

The US Congressional Gold Medal is considered “the highest civilian award” conferred by the US Congress for an individual’s “distinguished achievements and contributions for the United States.”

The US CGMs were presented to 18 living veterans and posthumously to 30 others who defended Bataan, Corregidor, and areas in Luzon, Leyte, and Southern Philippines while the country was then under the control of the United States.

Among the awardees were Major Raymundo Luna, father of Defense Undersecretary Cardozo Luna; Second Lieutenant Bernardo C. Mapagu, uncle of Defense Undersecretary Reynaldo Mapagu; and First Lieutenant James Gordon, father of Senator Richard Gordon.

“The U.S. remains forever indebted to the valor of Filipinos,” said Undersecretary Mapagu, reiterating the CGM as a fitting tribute to the Filipino veterans.

The survivors of the torturous Bataan Death March and bloody bombings by the Japanese bore the medal of “bravery and patriotism” despite the “terrible disadvantage” of the Philippines, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in his testimonial, which was delivered by Philippine Veterans’ Affairs Office (PVAO) Administrator Ernesto Carolina.

Aside from the 48 US Congressional Gold Medals, 10 plaques of recognition were also awarded to Senator Gordon, Governor Carlos Padilla, Mayor Leopoldo Bataoil, former Bataan Rep. Herminia Roman, Muntinlupa Rep. Rozzano Rufino Biazon, Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo, Antonio Magsaysay Diaz, Hermilando Mandanas, and Ambassadors Albert del Rosario and Willy Gaa.

“The special awards recognized the recipients’ efforts that helped pave the way for the passage of the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation (FVEC) Act of 2009, the U.S. Congress Public Law 114-265 or the Filipino Veterans of World War II CGM Act of 2015 and Senate Bill 142 that resulted in the pensions received from both the Philippines and U.S. for the Filipino war veterans,” said Defense public affairs chief Arsenio Andolong.

 
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