Earlier this spring, Filipino veterans of World War II received long-overdue recognition for their service in the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East.

AARP was proud to be a sponsor of the Regional Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony, held at the Filipino-American Community of Colorado Hall, 1900 Harlan St. in Edgewater, which collectively honored Filipino veterans of World War II with the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of their outstanding wartime achievement and honorable service to the United States during the war. The award was given as part of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Program.

“Congratulations to the Filipino veterans of World War II – Filipinos, Americans and Filipino Americans who have waited 75 years (for) recognition,” said Antonio M. Taguba, retired U.S. Army Major General and chair of FilVetRep. “You deservedly earned this period in American and Filipino history for your loyalty to country, dedication to duty and intrepidity in defense of the United States.”

In 2016, Congress passed the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act following decades of inaction on the part of the U.S. government to recognize and honor this segment of soldiers and their contributions.

From July 1941 to December 1946, 260,000 Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers served and fought for the United States and the Philippines against Axis powers during World War II. Colorado was home to more than 300 of these veterans who died in the Bataan Death March, the Japanese Prison Camps, the Japanese Hell ships, or as slave laborers in Japan.

Two retired Filipino American Generals presented the Congressional Gold Medals to family members of surviving Colorado veterans. Colorado awardees were Ralph Acosta, Lloyd Goad, Stephen Griffith, Gregorio Yrastorza, Royal Agens, Leovigildo Anolin, Amado Bautista, Hipolito Fernandez, Tomas Bautista, Ricardo Banares, Felicisimo De Claro, Quentine DeVore, Juan Fabia, Lloyd Goad, Arthur Fouret, Godofredo Gomez, Ambrose Goscha, Stephen Griffith, Francis Jensen, YC Lindsay, Modesto Lorejo, Felix Magalong, Benito Mallari, David Miclat, Rudolph Mramor, Gerald Nery, Melanio Villarosa, Donald R. Utz, Ricardo Yutuc, Gervacio Buenaventura, Gregorio Canono, Frank Francone, Juan Orallo, Teofilo Rinos Rojas, Federico Velando, John C. Strader, Felix Yapit, and Ray Yardley.

“Let us remember why we honor the legacy of the veterans,” Taguba said. “Their patience and fortitude to overcome adversity and prove their loyalty to America are true testament of their lasting patriotism and citizenship.”

[Photo courtesy of Gil Asakawa]