By Navy Region Southeast Public Affairs
Patrick Ganio, a 97-year-old Filipino World War II veteran, Bataan/Corregidor defender, and Purple Heart recipient, was presented the Congressional Gold Medal by Commander, Navy Region Southeast Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar, U.S Rep. John Rutherford and Jacksonville City Council President Anna Lopez Broche during a ceremony Oct. 29.
Additionally, U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho delivered a congressional citation and presented Ganio with a U.S. flag flown over the Capitol.
The Congressional Gold Medal was awarded by the U.S. Congress to 260,000 Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers who fought with Allied forces in World War II in defense of the Philippines, then a commonwealth of the United States. It's estimated that about 18,000 Filipino World War II veterans are alive today, with about 8,000 living in the United States. Historically the Congressional Gold Medal is presented to people or groups who have impacted American history and culture.
During Bolivar's address to the hall full of family and friends who came to honor Ganio, she spoke of the World War II veteran's commitment to his comrades. "For more than 20 years he dedicated his life to the cause of his fellow Filipino veterans, and in 2003, he successfully convinced Congress to pass legislation to include $16 million annually for the benefit of 8,000 Filipino veterans."
Bolivar added how proud she was to be part of the ceremony. "It's an honor and a privilege to recognize Mr. Patrick Ganio, whose entire life displays the core values we treasure today: honor, courage, and commitment."
The event was organized by the National Federation of Filipino-American Veterans, Regions 4 and 5, as well as by the Jacksonville Filipino-Veterans Society.