40 more Filipino WWII veterans get US Congressional Gold Medal

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 29 2019 08:08 PM | Updated as of Aug 30 2019 04:19 PM

Major Fortunato S. Perez receives the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award given by the United States, for his efforts in the second World War during ceremonies held at the World War II Veterans Museum in Taguig. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATED) - Forty Filipino World War II (WWII) veterans were honored Thursday with the US Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor the United States Congress confers.

Among them was 96-year-old retired Maj. Fortunato Perez, who served in the Bulacan Military District during the Japanese occupation.

Perez was only 18 years old and was a freshman engineering student when he was recruited to join the force against the Japanese. At one point, he was captured but managed to escape.

Also among the awardees is 95-year-old retired Sgt. Isabel Perez. Perez was part of the Hunters ROTC Guerillas, where she was responsible for the general supplies for her fellow guerillas.

Sargeant Isabel Perez INF (INACT) receives the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award given by the United States, for her efforts in the second World War during ceremonies held at the World War II Veterans Museum in Taguig on August 29, 2019. Sgt., Isabel entered the service as Quartermaster, Hunter ROTC Guerillas and was responsible for supplies and provision for her fellow guerillas who raided the Japanese prison in Muntinlupa, to free her comrades and obtain arms. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Retired Staff Sgt. Antonio Yu was the third living veteran on the list of Thursday’s awardees. The other 37 were conferred with the award posthumously.

US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim said the recognition of Filipino WWII veterans is a “symbol of friendship and alliance” between the Philippines and the United States.

Filipino and American forces fought side by side against Japanese occupation of the Philippines during the war, which ended with Japan's defeat in 1945.

“As we face today’s complex challenges, it is important to reflect on the lessons of our history and the contributions of these brave men, how our forefathers fought for our nations,” Kim said Thursday.

“Courage, bravery, and mutual respect made us stronger together,” he added.

According to Philippine Veterans Affairs Office Administrator Undersecretary Ernesto Carolina, of the more than 300,000 Filipino WWII veterans, only around 4,000 are still alive.

“We are running out of time. We want them to receive the award while they are still around. We have given them priority,” he said, noting that they plan to hold the awarding ceremony once a month.

Here is the complete list of 40 awardees:

Living Veterans
1.    Maj. Fortunato Perez
2.    Sgt. Isabel Perez
3.    Staff Sgt. Antonio Yu

Posthumous
1.    Col. Eleuterio Adevoso
2.    Col. Gustavo Ingles
3.    Lt. Col. Juan Mauri Claravall
4.    Lt. Col. Emmanuel de Ocampo
5.    Lt. Col. Feliz Rubio
6.    Maj. Benito Manalo
7.    Lt. Guillermo Parayno
8.    1Lt. Andres Clemente
9.    1Lt. Jose de Ocampo
10.    1Lt. Democrito Mendoza
11.    1Lt. Romeo Gironella
12.    2Lt. Rizalina Claravall
13.    2Lt. Joaquin Octaviano
14.    2Lt. Manuel Grio
15.    3Lt. Jose Nuñez
16.    MSgt. Francisco Calucin
17.    Sgt. Fermino Lubugin
18.    Sgt. Virgilio Milana
19.    Sgt. Aurelio Madlangbayan
20.    Sgt. Jaime Marquez
21.    Sgt. Gregorio Anonas Jr.
22.    Sgt. Marcelo Aquino
23.    Sgt. Eladio Nierva
24.    Staff Sgt. Luiz Victor
25.    Staff Sgt. Bienvenido Bueno
26.    Cpl. Juan Macalindong
27.    Cpl. Segundo Racho
28.    Pfc. Vitaliano Antonio
29.    Pfc. Egmedio Ragandan
30.    Pvt. Tomas Cloa
31.    Pvt. Sancho Tamayo
32.    Pvt. Castor Bagaconza
33.    Pvt. Francisco Magsajo
34.    Pvt. Florencio dela Rea
35.    Pvt. Francisco Espina
36.    Pvt. Ramon Miranda
37.    Pvt. Paterno Bombase