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News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

Veterans reflect on a forgotten alliance: Filipinos and Americans in WWII

by Dorian Merina and A Martínez | Take Two®

Elias Gallardo fought in the Philippines alongside American soldiers and other Filipinos during World War II. (Photo courtesy of The Valor Project) Rodney Cajudo / Valor Project

Veterans from World War II are often called part of the Greatest Generation. Their stories have been explored and documented in books, television shows and movies.

But there's a lesser-known part of the story.

While fierce battles hit Europe, fighting was also taking place in Asia. More than 250,000 Filipino soldiers heeded President Roosevelt's call to join and they fought under the American flag in the Philippines, then a territory of the US. They also served as scouts for American soldiers. After the war, many of those veterans relocated to California.

But soon a second struggle began for many of them.

"A lot of the Filipino veterans were promised full recognition," says Rodney Cajudo, whose latest film, called The Valor Project, documents the experience of veterans of World War II. "They were promised that if you fight alongside the Americans against the Japanese, that you would get full pay, full benefits. Unfortunately, not everyone got that."

One of the Filipino veterans documented in Cajudo's film is Jose Samonte, who fought alongside American soldiers and other Filipinos as a teenager after his father was killed:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-p7Xs5jzA4

Cajudo says the project's aim is to preserve a fast-disappearing testimony of the close relationship between the US and the Philippines during World War II.

"I hope this project is the bridge between the older generation and the younger generation, Americans and Filipino Americans," said Cajudo. "That they will know the valor of these men and women."

Veteran Malcom Murray tells the story of how he was aided by Filipinos in the remote jungles of the Philippines after his squad was cut off by fighting:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvFMqx1JrkY

You can learn more about The Valor Project at the film's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thevalorproject

This piece is part of KPCC's ongoing coverage of issues affecting veterans for Veterans Day 2014. See more of our coverage at KPCC.org/vets.

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