KTVA: Filipino veterans honored for actions in WWII

Salvador Yambao cannot get around as well as he used to, but there's no way the 92-year-old would miss this chance to meet Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski.

Yambao is Alaska's only surviving Filipino veteran of World War II. Murkowski presents him with the Congressional Gold Medal at the Asian Alaskan Cultural Center Sunday afternoon.

"I am happy, yes, that's it," said Yambao as he joins the families of five other veterans are also recognized for the contributions by their late loved ones.

Congress approved the awarding of the medal in November 2016. It's one of the nation's two highest civilian honors. For Murkowski, it's something long overdue.

"I think that we learn that it is never too late to give thanks, to give our appreciation, to declare our appreciation for all that has been contributed," said Murkowski.

Filipinos made up one of the 66 nationalities that fought for the United States during WWII. However, President Harry Truman stripped Filipinos of their benefits in 1946. They still have not been restored. The gold medals are a way to give thanks from a grateful nation. 

"This ceremony serves to ensure those who fought for freedom are never forgotten," said retired Army Colonel Gary Agron. 

The ceremony is personal for him. His father, Alfredo, passed away in 2015. He became the first Filipino from Alaska to receive the honor when his family accepted the medal posthumously in 2017.

"It's a very humbling experience, so proud of our dad, as I've stated, he's our hero," said Agron.

The event combines joy, with some sadness.

"Sometimes it feels bad that my husband wasn't able to see it," said Agron's widow, Pacaida.

Her husband is among those recognized for their efforts that helped defeat the Japanese during WWII.

By:  Dave Leval
Source: KTVA