A Cebuano veteran gets his Medal of Honor
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit Avila (The Freeman) - November 13, 2018 - 12:00am

I usually don’t write about something that actual came out already but apparently when this item came out no one noticed it, so allow me to reprint a letter about this case and later I will reprint the entire column from The Freeman about this piece.

“Hi Bobit, Since you and I share kindred interest in military history, I would like to know what your take is on this news item. I wonder if the veracity of this story has been verified. First of all, the awarding of the medal of honor is a very big deal in the United States. It usually makes it to the front pages of the major media outlets including television inasmuch as the US President himself presents the award. Secondly, it is a military decoration and not an award to civilians as alluded to in the news report.

“It is the highest, most prestigious and oldest continuously issued combat decoration of the US armed forces. I am not aware of any Filipino who has received this medal previously. Indeed he would be the first one and as such, he should be celebrated by the country and our fellow countrymen. I am terribly disappointed that the Manila papers ignored this momentous accomplishment. Since you are a columnist at the Philippine Star, maybe you can make a passing reference to this Cebuano hero ... All the best, S.A. Ceniza Jr., MD”

Thanks Dr. Ceniza. I’m reprinting what was written in The Freeman for the sake of our Veterans.

“A 93-year-old Cebuano war veteran from Ronda town was awarded the United States Congressional Medal of Honor in the state of Washington on Saturday. According to the US Embassy, the Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest form of award the American government confers on civilians. The recipient was Leonor Quirante Jimenez. Although he has since migrated to the US with some of his children, Jimenez was born and raised in Dumanjug, southwest Cebu on July 1, 1925 and later on moved to the neighboring town of Ronda.

“Jimenez’ eldest son, lawyer Josephus Jimenez, recalled that his father was still 17 when the Japanese Imperial Army bombed the Pearl Harbor in Oahu, Hawaii in 1941, which triggered World War II and signaled Japan’s invasion of the Pacific, including the Philippines. Around that time, Josephus’ uncle Lorenzo, the elder brother of his father, was inducted into the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) and assigned to defend the mountains of Dumanjug, Ronda, and Alcantara.

“Josephus narrated that back then, guerillas were holding camps on the hills of Pusodsawa, a sitio of Barangay Langin, as well as in the valleys of Malalay near the boundaries of Ronda and Alcantara, and the boundaries of Ronda and the barangays of Argao and Sibonga. The awardee, Leonor, came to visit Lorenzo in his camp one day, bringing food. “When the battalion commander saw my father almost daily, he told my uncle that he was going to induct the younger Jimenez into the regular force. My father has a black belt in judo and karate and the commander found him very good material for the signal corps. Thus, my father was accepted into the USAFFE,” recalled Josephus.

“Josephus said his father’s main duty as a soldier was to watch out for enemies from the horizon. As his military life progressed, he was later on assigned as a soldier specializing in nocturnal operations and hand-to-hand combat. Leonor survived the war. In 1945, he went to Cebu City and pursued his studies to become an elementary school teacher, together with his wife, Constancia, from Argao town. Together, they had 19 children, eight of whom survived. “After the war, my parents became public school teachers. My father taught in many barangay schools from the 1950s up to the 1990s. They struggled through life and had 19 children, but only eight of us survived. Many of my siblings died at childbirth, others while they were infants, and still others in early childhood,” said Josephus.

“Proud kaayo ko sa akong papa nga nakaabot ug 93 ug nakadawat pa gyud og US award,” Leo said. For his part, Josephus said it dawned on them, children, that they had under-appreciated their father before, especially with his easy-going personality. Even then, the Jimenezes hope that the next generation will not forget the bravery of people like their father who fought for the country during the war.”

vsbobita@mozcom.com

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