A Lynnwood veteran will be honored this weekend for his service with the congressional gold medal.
Julian Nicholas is one of about 18,000 surviving Filipino American veterans from World War II, and he's getting a congressional gold medal at age 91.
Nicholas didn't tell his parents he was running off to join the American military to fight the Japanese during World War II.
"I claim that I am the youngest member of the company," he said with a chuckle. "I was maybe 13 years old."
Nicholas was part of the guerilla army that helped U.S. rangers liberate more than 500 American prisoners of war from the brutal Cabanatuan prison camp in 1945. It was called "The Great Raid."
"Oh there were lots of Japanese, and they had plenty of weapons," recalled Nicholas. "We made lots of fighting against the enemy. I was so lucky I was never injured."
More than 260,000 Filipinos and Filipino Americans were offered military benefits to fight alongside the Americans. But that offer was retracted when President Harry Truman signed the Rescission Act in 1946. In 2009, President Barack Obama signed a bill that gave surviving U.S. Filipino veterans a payment of $15,000. Late last year, Congress recognized them with one of the nation's highest civilian honors, the Congressional Gold Medal.
The Filipino community will hold a Congressional Gold Medal gala Saturday, May 13 to raise funds to purchase medals for surviving veterans. The keynote speaker will be retired Army Major General Antonio Taguba, best known for writing a report on torture within the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. For more information, contact the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project.