By Francis Wakefield
Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana led the awarding of the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal (CGM) to 14 Filipino World War II Veterans in a ceremony held at the Fernando Air Base in Lipa City, Batangas, on Wednesday, February 20, 2019.
“So far, a total of 108 Filipino World War II veterans, including our awardees here today, have received the bronze replica of the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal Award for their valiant service which most of them carried out in the vast planes and hinterlands of Luzon,” Lorenzana said in his testimonial.
The initial awarding ceremony was held at the U.S. Embassy in Manila on September 13, 2018. It was followed by ceremonies at the Philippine Military Academy in Baguio City on October 27, 2018; Lingayen, Pangasinan on November 15, 2018; and Cagayan De Oro on November 27, 2018, successively.
This fifth leg of the CGM awarding ceremony was part of the “PHIVIDEC-IA Veterans’ Event 2019 – Lipa City”, which was hosted by the PHIVIDEC Industrial Authority, in partnership with the Air Education, Training and Doctrine Command (AETD).
In 2016, Lorenzana, who was then the Head of the Office of Veterans Affairs (OVA) in Washington D.C., was part of the Filipino Veterans Recognition (FilVetRep) group that strongly lobbied for the passage of the conferment of the U.S. CGM to Filipino World War II Veterans. The prestigious U.S. CGM award is bestowed by the US Congress collectively upon all 260,000 Filipino war veterans.
“On behalf of the Filipino people, I thank the members of the U.S. Congress for heeding our clamor to recognize the heroism of Filipino World War II veterans,” the defense chief said.
Additionally, Lorenzana shared that plans are underway for a series of regional awarding ceremony this year.
“Time is running short for our veterans, so we have to take advantage of the momentum since the number of our living veterans are dwindling due to old age and illnesses,” Lorenzana said.
The CGM is an award by Congress and is the highest civilian award in the United States. The decoration is awarded to an individual or unit who performs an outstanding deed or act of service to the security, prosperity, and national interest of the U.S.