By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
(© 2017 Journal GlobaLinks)
CHICAGO (JGL) — Philippine Embassy Charge D'Affaires Patrick Chuasoto led the nation in commemorating the 75th Bataan Day of Valor at the National
World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. on April 7.
FLOWERS FOR THE DEATH MARCHERS:
FILIPINO WORLD War II veterans Potenciano Dee (left), 93, of Bethesda, Maryland, and Rudy Panaglima, 87, of Arlington, Virginia, hold flowers as they joined in the wreath-laying ceremonies April 7 at the Bataan Marker at the Pacific Fountain of the National WW II Memorial in Washington, D.C. as young children, Joelle, 9, Jeremy, 2, and Jillian, 4, of the Bustamante family, look on. (ACFV Photo by Eric Lachica)
Eric Lachica of the American Coalition for Filipino Veterans, Inc. said several Filipino American WW II veterans were on hand to commemorate the Bataan Death March 75 years ago.
Among them were Potenciano Dee, 93, of Bethesda, Maryland, Rudy Panaglima, 87, of Arlington, Virginia, and Ray Cabacar, 89.
Those who could no longer keep pace with the march due to starvation, lack of water, shelter and medicine were beaten, bayoneted, shot while others were beheaded by the Japanese Imperial Army soldiers.They joined the Philippine Embassy staff in honoring the sacrifices of 76,000 U.S. and Filipino Soldiers under the United States Army Forces of the Far East (USAFFE) who surrendered on April 9, 1942 and walked the treacherous and blistering 60 miles from Bataan to their prison camp at Camp O’Donnell. Most of the marchers were suffering from major disease and starvation.
GOLD MEDAL FRAME:
SONNY BUSA (left) presents a framed copy of President Obama’s signed Filipino World War II Veterans Congressional Gold Medal (P.L. 114-265) to Philippine Embassy Charge D’Affaires Patrick Chuasoto during the Bataan Day of Valor reception at the Philippine Embassy while Marie Blanco (extreme left) and Bing Branigin look on. Mr. Busa and Ms. Blanco represent the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project. (ACFV photo by Eric Lachica)
They fought in the Bataan Peninsula for 99 days without any reinforcement or air support but their efforts were enough to disrupt the 50-day timetable of the Imperial Japanese Army before their surrender. This delay prevented Japan from reaching Australia.
FILIPINO WORLD War II veterans (from left) Potenciano Dee, 96, Ray Cabacar, 89, and Rudy Panaglima, 87, have a photo op during a reception at the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. last April 7 commemorating the Bataan Day of Valor 75 years ago on April 9, 1942. (ACFV photo by Eric Lachica)
At the reception that followed in the evening at the Philippine Embassy, Minister Jose Victor Chan-Gonzaga, Philippine Embassy’s Economic Minister, said, “It is our hope that we all look into this early spring ritual as more than the solemn ceremony that we had at the World War II Memorial earlier this afternoon, and certainly more than the speeches that you will hear in this hall tonight. Let it be a constant reminder that we cannot and should not squander the sacrifice of those who gave their lives and of themselves for the cause of freedom.”
“This Day of Valor is a time to behold those whose lives we can never repay in debt, but who we can honor in steadfast testimony for having loved their countrymen enough to be ready to give their lives for them,” Minister Patrick A. Chuasoto said in his remarks.
PHILIPPINE EMBASSY Chargé d’ Affaires, ad interim, Minister Patrick A. Chuasoto (second from left), executes a hand salute as he led the wreath laying ceremony at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the 75th Araw ng Kagitingan in the afternoon last April 7. (Photo from the Philippine Embassy)
“We are again called to rightfully honor our veteran soldiers so that they may continue to be held in the highest esteem. I am happy to note that the newly enacted Congressional Medal Act for the Filipino World War II veterans is one valuable measure that will help enshrine their contributions for generations to come,” Minister Chuasoto further added.
Members of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetRep) led by Mr. Sonny Busa also presented a signed copy of the Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015 to Minister Patrick A. Chuasoto, in appreciation of the Philippine Embassy and Philippine Consulates General’s long and enduring support to the WWII Filipino veterans that eventually led to the signing of the bill into law on 14 December 2016.
The Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015 will award a Congressional Gold Medal, the highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions in the United States, collectively, to 260,000 Filipino veterans in recognition of their dedicated service during World War II.
FilVetRep also presented the highlights of the recollections during the 75th Anniversary of the Bataan Death March held at the US Army Missile Range White Sands in New Mexico on 19 March 2017. (PM)