Soldiers of United States Army Pacific will participate in Balikatan 2017, the annual Philippine-US joint military training exercise next month, the US Embassy in Manila announced.
The military drill is a signature element of the Philippine-US alliance focused on a variety of missions, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and counterterrorism.
Meanwhile, the surviving daughter of a Filipino soldier who fought for freedom during World War II was presented a replica of the Purple Heart medal.
Filipino Private First Class Adriano Alagon’s posthumously awarded Purple Heart medal was lost in the aftermath of World War II, but last April 19, United States Army Pacific commanding chief General Robert B. Brown presented a replica of the medal to Alagon’s only surviving daughter Elisea Alagon Jamoralin.
The formal ceremony took place at the historic Fort Shafter headquarters in Honolulu, Hawaii , a building used during World War II to plan for the liberation of the Philippines in 1944.
“Through the horrors and terror of this period, we can take what endures over the years -- the freedom and sacrifices made for our two nations by soldiers like Pfc. Alagon,” Gen. Brown said before presenting the medal.
During the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, Pfc. Alagon was a member of the 14th Engineer Battalion, Philippine Scouts, who served shoulder-to-shoulder with American forces.
Enduring some of the fiercest battles of the defensive campaign, Pfc. Alagon was captured on his birthday, made to endure the horrific march across Bataan, and subsequently killed by his captors after spending nearly two years in brutal conditions as a prisoner of war. Jamoralin was only eight years old when she lost her father.
Her daughter, Philippine Consul General in Honolulu Gina Jamoralin, researched her grandfather’s saga and contacted the U.S. Army about a replacement award.
“Today’s event is the culmination of my search for answers in what might have been forgotten by succeeding generations. While we miss our grandfather, we are consoled by the fact he died for his country and we are deeply proud of him,” said the Consul General on behalf of the family.
The family also brought a framed copy of an original letter signed by then US President Harry Truman saying: “He stands in the unbroken line of Patriots who have dared to die so that freedom might live, and increase its blessings. Freedom lives -- and through it -- he lives.”
“I’ve never heard it captured so well. Freedom does live thanks to men and women like Private Alagon - his sacrifice really humbles us here today,”Gen. Brown added.