Fort Hood: WWII veteran honored with Congressional Gold Medal

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FORT HOOD, Texas (KWTX) Army veteran Jose Manzano-Somera, 92, was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the highest awards for a civilian bestowed by Congress, Friday at Fort Hood.

The medal was awarded collectively in October 2017 to Filipino veterans who served honorably between July 1941 and Dec. 31, 1946 under U.S. Army command. (Photo by Alex Gibbs)

U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, whose district includes part of the sprawling post, said he was proud to recognize one of the nation’s heroes.

"I think we should always say thank you for all of those that fought in all of our wars and defended our country," he said.

"We don't say thank you enough."

In August 1946, Manzano enlisted as a private in the New Philippine Scouts of the U.S. Army.

He served in the Philippines, Saipan and Guam, helping the civilian population deal with starvation and sickness in the aftermath of the war in the Pacific.

Manzano's daughter, Josephine, says that her father still has plenty of personality despite battling dementia.

He continued to fight for American and Filipino veteran causes after he became a U.S. citizen in the 1950s, and she said she couldn't be prouder of the man she calls dad.

"I'm glad my dad is here to receive the honor from the congressman," she said.

"It's a great day for Filipino-Americans."

Friday marked the first time since Congress passed the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act in 2015, that Williams presented the award.

The medal was awarded collectively in October 2017 to Filipino veterans who served honorably between July 1941 and Dec. 31, 1946 under U.S. Army command.