LAS VEGAS (KTNV) - Regalado Baldonado was only 15 years old when he fought during World War II. He is one of the hundreds of thousands of Filipinos who fought alongside U.S. forces during the war.
"We feel the urge to fight and drive the Japanese."
At the time, the Philippines was a U.S. commonwealth. During World War II, over 260,000 Filipinos fought in defense of the United States against the Japanese in the Pacific theater of military operations. They were promised full benefits for fighting under the American flag.
But in 1946, President Harry Truman signed the Rescission Act of 1946 that retroactively annulled benefits that would have been payable to Filipino troops on account of their military service.
"Oh that was a heartache we had," says Baldonado. "We are forgotten by the government."
Filipino veterans groups and advocates in the United States have been fighting for these veterans to be honored and recognized.
Reynaldo Lopez of the Filipino Veterans Group says, "We are part of the united states at the time. During the world war two when it actually happened."
In October 2017, the fight for recognition ended during a ceremony in Washington D.C. where Filipino WWII veterans received the Congressional Gold Medal - the highest civilian award.
Baldonado was there to receive his medal.
"I feel great already. I feel a part of the government."
Regalado Baldonado is the only one of four Filipino WWII veterans living in Nevada who was able to make it to the ceremony in Washington D.C. Others were not able to make it due to health issues. Local veterans groups are planning on hosting an event to honor all four.