South Texas City of San Antonio Honors Filipino WWII Veterans

Philippines Campaign 1944-1945
Philippines Campaign 1944-1945

Dominador Soriano fought in World War II as a member of two different armies.

Soriano lives in San Antonio and recently celebrated his 100th birthday. He served in WWII as a member of both the Philippine and US armies.

San Antonio honored him recently with a resolution that recognized the efforts of approximately 250,000 Filipino veterans who fought under US army command.

The resolution goes on to support legislation that would award veterans like Soriano the Congressional Gold Medal.

The resolution is also intended to honor all Filipino veterans in San Antonio across all generations.

Councilman Ron Nirenberg claims Filipino lineage through his grandfather.

“This would be a watershed moment in recognition for Filipino veterans who have served in many wars for the United States,” Nirenberg said. “For San Antonio, it is in support of ensuring veterans of all wars, regardless of descent, (get) the honor and recognition they deserve.”

The resolution is the first by an American city. It comes on the heels of efforts to honor Filipino veterans by the Texas Senate and by Bexar County, Texas.

Soriano is the only surviving Filipino WWII veteran in San Antonio. He was drafted into the Philippine Army in 1938 and inducted into the US Army in the Far East on September 1, 1941.

Soriano said that, even before Pearl Harbor, the Philippine island was bracing for an attack by the Japanese. The day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese invaded the Philippines and other islands in the area.

Soriano commanded the Echo Company of the 83rd Infantry Regiment – serving under General Douglas MacArthur. He and his men kept watching on Japanese ships moving through the Tañon Strait.

The Japanese quickly invaded the island, trapping 76,000 Filipino and US soldiers.

Soriano’s group fled to the mountains. Soriano was shot in the leg. He gathered together a guerilla force and was captured in July of 1944. He was beaten with a 2-inch-thick pipe and the released but, he could hardly walk.

He continued his work with the resistance until the Japanese surrendered on August 15, 1945.

Soriano went on to be a lawyer in the Philippines. He traveled the world and finally settled in San Antonio. Two of his children live there, as well.

In 2001, the Army awarded Soriano the Purple Heart for wounds received as a result of hostile actions.

But Soriano is still upset about President Truman revoking service benefits to Filipino soldiers.

“From the beginning, the Filipino veterans were deprived of what are due them,” Soriano said.

Nonie Cabana of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project promised Soriano on his 100th birthday that he would work to get the Filipino Veterans recognized.

“They have been waiting now for over 70 years, for this recognition,” said Cabana, a Filipino veteran and a descendant of World War II Filipino scouts, San Antonio Express-News reported.

Soriano read the resolution out loud at City Hall after it passed.

“It’s an appreciation of the veterans of WWII, that they are not forgotten,” Soriano said, “but remembered by all in the Philippines, and in the United States.”

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE