WWII veterans share limelight

PALO, Leyte — At least 33 surviving World War II veterans in Eastern Visayas are set to be conferred with the US Congressional Gold Medal as one of the highlights in the commemoration of the 78th Leyte Gulf Landings on 20 October 2022.

Nenita Brazil, head Philippine Veterans Affairs Office in Eastern Visayas, said all the living war veterans in the region will be conferred with the medal as a recognition of their sacrifices, bravery and heroism displayed during World War II.

“We decided to confer the medal this year, especially because their number is getting smaller every year,” Brazil said.

She added that the awarding of medals has long been planned but other regions were able to express their desire ahead.

“There is a schedule set and the process is very long,” Brazil said.

Among those that will be honored with the medal is Eduardo Bermudo, a member of the United States Army Forces in the Far East from Tacloban City. The 32 others were recognized members of guerilla groups that fought side-by-side with the American soldiers during the war.

During the commemoration of the Leyte Gulf Landings in 2020, there were still 92 surviving veterans. The number went down to 48 in 2021 and further decreased to 33 this year. The oldest surviving war veteran is 101 years old from Burauen, Leyte while the youngest is 93 years old from Southern Leyte.

“Most of those who died passed away due to old age while a few were due to complications caused by Covid-19,” Brazil said.

The US Congressional Gold Medal is considered breakthrough recognition granted to Filipino World War II veterans when President Barack Obama signed on 16 December 2016 the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act.

The law collective awards a Congressional Gold Medal, to the Filipino veterans of World War II. The medal is the highest civilian honor, for the distinguished achievements and contributions for the United States during the World War II.

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