LIHU‘E — Kaua‘i’s last surviving Filipino World War II veteran, Sixto Tabay, 95, has been in the intensive-care unit at Wilcox Medical Center in Lihu‘e since Monday, and his ‘ohana wishes to honor him on Veterans Day by sharing his story with The Garden Island.
Daughter Josephina Hael said Tabay was supposed to attend the annual Hanapepe Kaua‘i Veterans Cemetery ceremony, but he started to feel ill.
“We just want to honor him and let him know how proud we are of him and how grateful we are for him to serve our country,” Hael said.
“We talked to him in the ICU, and know he is disappointed about missing the ceremony, so we wanted to show him how much we appreciate him and honor him this way.”
In 2017, Tabay is one out of 13 Filipino veterans who served with the 12th Infantry Division, a group of 10,473 Filipinos enlisted from the Philippines to fight for the United States, and Tabay was honored with the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal.
Former President Barrack Obama signed the historic bill, “Congressional Gold Medal Award,” that would end the 75 years of injustice and humiliation that Filipino veterans faced and help Filipino World War II veterans regain their honor and dignity.
Two of Tabay’s grandsons are proud of him, and have a message for their lolo (grandpa).
“Thank you for being a good lolo to us, and thank you for serving in the U.S. military,” said Diego Gabriel De Leon, 19. “I love you, daddy.”
In 2016, Filipino veterans besides being granted citizenship were finally granted the opportunity to bring all of their family members from the Philippines to America, through the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Policy by an executive order given by Obama, which President Donald Trump ended in 2019 by the policy’s agreement expiration date.
Each Filipino veteran had three years to apply and get their family members registered through this parole policy.
“I am grateful that my daddy is a World War II veteran and I am very thankful because he brought all of his siblings and relatives to Hawai‘i from the Philippines,” grandson Benjhar De Leon said.
Tabay’s ‘ohana includes the Ligaya Butac family, the Josefina Hael family, the Danilo Tabay family, Cesar Tabay, Liberty T. Sueta, Carmelita T. Cuepo and Marivic T. De Leon.
Stephanie Shinno, features, education, business, and community reporter can be reached at 245-0424 or email@example.com.