RECOGNIZING AND HONORING FILIPINO WORLD WAR II VETERANS -- (House of Representatives - September 19, 2006)
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Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Madam Speaker, today I rise to honor those brave American and Filipino soldiers who fought side by side during the Pacific battles of World War II. Their heroic actions and courageous fortitude gave the Allied Forces the edge that they needed to emerge victorious in that great war.
American veterans like Donald Patafio of Woodcliff Lakes and Raymond DiPietro of Demarest. Patafio and DiPietro served in the Navy alongside these brave Filipino soldiers in the battle for their homeland. Patafio served honorably as an aviation radioman and DiPietro's unit received a Presidential Citation for their work in the battle.
More than 120,000 Filipino nationals were formed into U.S. divisions for the defense of their homeland and to advance the Allied forces' cause of liberty. Though poorly equipped, they fought valiantly under the American flag and under the direction of American military leaders in the weeks following the invasion of their homeland. Many continued the battle against the Japanese during the years of occupation.
Thousands of American and Filipino troops died during the infamous hundred-mile Bataan Death March. Many were executed along the way for merely asking for water in the scorching sun. While 70,000 forces surrendered, only 54,000 reached the internment camp. The Geneva Convention was no barrier to the mistreatment, torture, and indiscriminate execution inflicted upon these prisoners of war.
Civilian Filipinos suffered for their alliance with our American troops as well. In Manila, for instance, Japanese troops--in an indefensible position and cut off from supplies--took their anger out on an undefended civilian population, massacring more than 100,000.
We are grateful for the service of all the Filipino people--civilian, guerilla, and regular army--in the defense of democracy. And, we are thankful for their continued friendship. To this day, the Filipino people continue to welcome American soldiers, sailors, and airmen to bases that were instrumental in the Cold War and are now important in the War on Terror. As they did in World War II, fighting along side of brave American soldiers like Donald Patafio and Raymond DiPietro, the people of the Philippines continue to work with American forces to spread the cause of liberty.
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