Filipino Veterans of World War II awarded the Congressional Gold Medal

Seventy-five years after the United States entered World War II, Filipino Veterans received national recognition when they were recently awarded the Congressional Gold Medal – the highest civilian honor the United States can bestow.

On July 26, 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt called upon all organized military forces of the Philippines into the service of the United States under the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East. When Pearl Harbor and Manila were attacked on Dec. 7, 1941, these soldiers were brought into direct combat as the U.S. officially entered World War II. During the Japanese invasion of the Philippines, U.S. and Filipino soldiers fought together in many battles across the Philippine islands, including the battles in Bataan, Corrigedor, Luzon and Leyte.

During the Battle of Corregidor, American forces ultimately surrendered to the Japanese. These soldiers were taken as prisoners of war and were forced to endure the infamous Bataan Death March. Between 60,000 – 80,000 Filipinos and Americans marched approximately 65 miles through the jungles to confinement camps throughout the Philippines. They were deprived of food, water and medical attention and many were killed on the spot if they stopped to rest. During the march, approximately 10,000 men died. Of these men, 1,000 were American and 9,000 were Filipino.

Despite the Japanese occupation, the Filipinos organized guerillas in resistance and vowed to fight against the Japanese. They formulated plans to assist the return of American forces to the islands. They gathered important intelligence information and smuggled it out to