Thirteen Filipino World War II veterans were given the highest civilian honor by the United States Congress for their service in Bataan during the war. Photo: US Embassy in the Philippines

Thirteen Filipino World War II veterans were awarded the United States Congress’ highest civilian honor on Thursday for their service in Bataan, Philippines.

The Filipino veterans, mostly aged 91 or more with one nearly 100 years old, were honored with the Congressional Gold Medal at the US Embassy in the Philippines, GMA News reported.

Those given the awards were Brigadier General Pedro Zafra, Colonel Paterno Viloria, Lieutenant Colonel Frisco San Juan, Lieutenant Commodore Bienvenido Alano Sr, Major Maximo Young, Corporal Oscar Bunconsejo, Technical Sergeant Sixto Navidad, Private First Class Manuel Pamaran, Private First Class Jose Sepulveda, Private Roberto Agustino, Private Sixto Guanzon, Private Bienvenido Sermonia and Private Ricardo Madayag.

According to Delfin Lorezana, the Secretary of National Defense, getting the veterans the medals was difficult as it required the votes of two-thirds of the US Congress. The Congress passed the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act in November 2016 and it was signed by former US president Barack Obama into law in December the same year.

US Ambassador Sung Kim thanked the veterans for their service in Bataan, Coregidor and Manila.

“What they have freely given is beyond our power to repay, but on this day and at this time, we recognize our debt for their sacrifice with deep respect and profound appreciation,” Kim said.

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