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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Only 996 heroes remain of the 1 million WW2 veterans

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Of the over one million Filipinos who fought against the Japanese in World War 2, only 966 are still alive as of April 8, on the eve of the 82nd anniversary of the Fall of Bataan, according to the Philippine Veterans Administration Office (PVAO).

In an interview, PVAO Undersecretary Resty Aguilar said the oldest is Emelia Guerrero, 105, who was recently awarded a medal for her services in defending the country during the Second World War.

The 966 living WW2 veterans continue to receive their monthly pensions and benefits, including free hospitalization and health services.

Aguilar, a retired army brigadier general, also said there are 16,899 spouses of WW2 veterans who are receiving their pension.

Another war veteran, retired Col. Cesar Pobre, who wrote over a dozen of WW2 books, recalled the historic Battle of Munoz, Nueva Ecija where he and his colleagues clashed with a big number of Japanese troops.

Pobre was a member of the famous US 98 Mortar Brigade, who engaged the Japanese in a close quarter fighting against the Japanese.

The bravery of Filipino soldiers was displayed during WW2 when they held their ground in defending the country when the Japanese invaded the Philippines on Dec. 8, 1941.

For over three months, Filipino and American forces fought the Japanese in many battles across the Philippines that delayed the advancing enemy forces and enabled Gen. Douglas McArthur to escape to Australia en route in going to America where he made a plan of his famous saying “I shall return” to liberate the Philippines which he fulfilled in the landing of Leyte on Oct. 20, 1944.

It was in Bataan that the combined Filipino American forces made their last stand until they ran out of bullets and ammunition that forced them to surrender on April 9, 1942.

April 9 is known as the “Fall of Bataan” which is a public holiday all over the country to honor Filipino and American soldiers, including guerrillas who fought the Japanese invaders during WW2.

The “Fall of Bataan” was followed by the infamous “Bataan Death March” where many Filipinos and American soldiers died during the long march.

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