The island’s last surviving Filipino World War II veteran will soon receive the nation’s highest civilian honor.
The Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama Thursday, awarding Kauai resident and World War II veteran Sixto Tabay the medal.
Tabay is the last surviving Filipino veteran on Kauai — out of 13 — who served on the 12th Infantry Division, a group of 10,473 Filipinos enlisted from the Philippines to fight for the United States.
Though the war ended in 1945, Tabay is considered a World War II veteran because he is among the Filipino veterans recruited to serve.
“I’m very thankful for my services in the United States Army,” said Tabay in a previous TGI interview. The veteran served from 1946 to 1949 as a small arms repairman.
He is among the 18,000 Filipino World War II veterans alive today who will be with the country’s highest civilian award.
“The Filipino veterans of World War II overcame many challenges in their fight for compensation, family reunification, and verification of wartime service. By signing our bill into law, President Obama recognized these veterans’ courage and perseverance, both during the war and in the decades of battles for benefits that followed,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono, who along with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard introduced the bill.
After enduring 75 years of injustice and humiliation, Filipino World War II veterans regained their honor and dignity when Congress passed the Congressional Gold Medal Award — a historic bill which President Obama signed into law, said Maj. General Antonio Taguba (Retired), chairman of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project.
“History has been made as President Obama signs into law our bill to honor the more than 200,000 Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers that served our country during World War II,” Gabbard said in a release. “These loyal and courageous soldiers suffered, fought, with many giving up their lives alongside their American counterparts throughout the war. This recognition is a testament to each and every one of our Filipino World War II veterans who earned and deserve their place amongst our greatest generation.
The Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act, awards the medal collectively to the over 260,000 Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers who responded to President Roosevelt’s call-to-duty and fought under the American flag during World War II.
Hirono and Gabbard will work together with the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project to organize Congressional Gold Medal ceremonies.