Monday, March 8, 1999

Name: Tomas Taguba
Age: 80
Award: World War II Bronze Star and Prisoner of War medals
Occupation: Retired
Hobbies: Fixing home and garden

Hero gets over-
due awards

See also: Island Images

After serving in two wars and being captured by the Japanese Imperial Army at Bataan in the Philippines in 1942, Tomas B. Taguba finally has been recognized for his service.

"I don't know what happened," Taguba said after receiving two medals recently from Maj. Gen. James T. Hill, commanding general of the 25th Infantry Division. Taguba's son, Brig. Gen. Antonio Taguba, the U.S. Army's first Filipino-American general officer, observed the ceremony.

"This was a special honor for him and his family," said Gen. Taguba, deputy commander of the 1st Army at Fort Jackson in North Carolina.

Tomas Taguba was 24 when he was inducted into the U.S. Army on Feb. 10, 1942, as a member of the Philippine Scouts.

During the Japanese attack on the Philippines, Taguba was a truck driver assigned to haul ammunition and food supplies to the front lines on Bataan and Corregidor. He was captured by the Japanese when Bataan fell on April 9, 1942.

During the infamous Bataan death march, Taguba escaped, joined the underground movement and avoided being recaptured by the Japanese until U.S. forces returned to the Philippines. He was listed as missing in action for more than three years -- a period spent reporting on Japanese movements in his home province of Isabella, he said.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army in July 1945, and rose to the rank of sergeant 1st class before he retired in 1962. During his more than 20 years in the Army, Taguba served in South Korea, Germany and Okinawa, spending his last 17 years as a motor-pool sergeant.

After retiring from the Army, Taguba returned to the service to spend another 17 years at Schofield Barracks working as an arms specialist.

He has been married to the former Maria Batulan for more than 52 years. They have seven children and nine grandchildren.

Gregg K. Kakesako, Star-Bulletin

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