Credit: Special to The Daily Sun
A ship carrying prisoners of war from The Philippines returns to California near the end of World War II.
As of Wednesday, April 25, 2018
WAPATO It’s been a long time coming, but the more than quarter-million fighters of Filipino ancestry who went to war alongside American soldiers against the Axis during World War II are being recognized for their contribution to victory.
One of the ceremonies at which Filipinos are receiving Congressional Gold Medal replicas will take place here at the Filipino Hall at noon Saturday, April 28.
Wapato Filipinos to be honored number 18 — two are still alive.
“The medal presentation ceremony will be the second greatest event to occur at our building, second only to the inaugural opening on March 22, 1952,” said Filipino American Community President Rey Pascua.
The hall is located at 211 W. Second St.
It will open at 11:30 a.m. Saturday for early arriving guests.
Those World War II Filipino veterans from Wapato who are still living are Gregorio Azurin and Marcelo Quinto.
Filipino veterans from Wapato who will receive their medals posthumously include Raimundo Arreola, Ponce Divina, Johnny Asuncion, Nicholas Defiesta, Bernard Baclig, Joe Estep, Marcus Licudan, Johnny Manzano, Marcelo Quinto, Salvador Umipig, Bonifacio Visaya and Pedrito Velasco.
Recognition for the Filipino fighters came in December of 2015, when Congress passed a public law that recognized Filipinos and Americans for their service in the Philippines.
Retired U.S. Army General Oscar Hilman will bring a delegation to the hall to present the awards.
Wapato will be the fourth ceremony in the state.
The kickoff ceremony took place in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 25, 2017.
From July 1941 to December 1946, 260,000 Filipino-Americans fought for the U.S. and Philippines.
On that July date, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called all organized military forces of the Philippines into the service of the U.S.
Relatives of the honored Wapato Filipino fighters will come to Wapato from all over the northwest, Pascua said.