Kin of Filipino hero seek return of US war medal

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CLARK FREEPORT—The family of a war hero, a member of the then Philippine Scouts under the US Army, has renewed its appeal for help in recovering the US Congressional Medal of Honor awarded to their ancestor 99 years ago.

A relative took the medal in the 1920s and was reported to have sold it at an auction last year.

Maria Delilah Turzar, a great granddaughter of Private Jose Baliton Nisperos, said the family’s appeal was directed at the winning bidder who paid $1,100 (P47,300 today at 43:1) for the medal.

“We learned recently from one of our supporters, Mr. Philip Garcia, about an auction in 2011. We received information [the winning bidder] was a Filipino-American based in the United States. The name of our lolo  is engraved on the medal. Please help us recover it,” said Turzar addressing the 28th annual reunion of the Philippine Scouts Heritage Society here on Saturday.

In General Order No. 64 issued on Nov. 25, 1912, the US War Department honored Nisperos with the medal for “most distinguished gallantry,” after he single-handedly beat back a group of Filipino rebels who had ambushed the 34th Company of the Philippine Scouts in Basilan on Sept. 24, 1911.

“Having been badly wounded (his left arm was broken and lacerated and he had several spear wounds in the body so he could not stand), Private Nisperos continued to fire his rifle with one hand until the enemy was repulsed, thereby aiding materially in preventing the annihilation of his party and the mutilation of their bodies,” read the citation.

Nisperos was only 24 at the time. His wounds so severe, the US Army discharged him and gave him a pension of $55 a month. He died at age 34 in 1922 following an illness.

The recovery of the medal, said to be the first to be conferred by the American government on an Asian and a Filipino, would finally end a sad chapter for his family.

Potenciana Nisperos, the widow, died penniless, unable to enjoy the monthly pension because she was unable to produce her husband’s medal, which the relative had taken, as proof of his heroism. She died in 1969, leaving nothing to her three daughters.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9892, led by Frank Hillard, was able to recently help the family secure a burial site for Nisperos at the Clark Veterans Cemetery here.

But the provincial government of La Union, where Nisperos was from, decided to honor one of its own by exhuming his remains that had been buried in the province and accorded him military honors in a reburial last April 2 in a public cemetery meant for its great sons and daughters.

Turzar said the La Union government also promised to buy back the medal for the Nisperos family and for its historical value.

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  • Anonymous

    Can we please ask Uncle Sam to NUKE this island?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EAHYJFI6OGUJI7THVMSETNJGVU Patrick Mendoza

    Lits git it on!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7GRFTNGKLXSCIMETRSN2YZ36EI Ronald

    Now we will know who is running from whom. Sino man sa kanila ang di maubos-ubusan ng dahilan ay siyang malinaw na umiiwas lumaban. Sa palagay ko lang ay may ilulutong ibang laban  wag lang ito matuloy.

  • akramgolteb

    Mahirap ito dahil wala naman prueba na “relative” ang nagbenta ng medal hindi ang next of kin tulad ng asawa at apo. Hindi sila matutulungan ng gobyerno ng Pinas o Amerika dahil kailangan din protektahan ang rights ng unang nakabili sa auction kung legal niya nakuha ito. Para mabawi ang medal bibilihin na lang sa unang nakabili sa presyo niya.

  • http://joboni96.myopenid.com/ joboni96

    ‘single-handedly beat back a group of Filipino rebels’

    freedom fighters ang mga iyan
    hindi rebels
    nilalabanan ang pangongolonya ng u.s.

    dito magaling ang u.s.
    pinagsasabong tayong mga pilipino
    para manaig sila sa bayan natin

    tignan mo na lang sa dami ng
    u.s. collaborators
    sa gobyerno natin

    alisin na yang april 9 na iyan
    fall of u.s. sa bataan yan

    gawing Sept. 16 (1991)
    ang araw ng kagitingan
    para gunitain ang
    pagsipa ng senado
    sa mga u.s. bases

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