Nov 062013

Stephen Sifuentes, representing US Sen. Dean Heller, and Lt. Cmdr. Ceasar Elpidio of the Filipino American Veterans and Families organization, present producer/director Donald Plata the Certificate of Congressional Recognition. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

LAS VEGAS—Representatives of US Sen. Dean Heller and US Rep. Joe Heck of Nevada presented filmmakers Donald Plata, Lou Diamond Phillips and Chris Schaefer certificates of Congressional Recognition for creating and producing the documentary movie “Forgotten Soldiers.”

The legislators also recognized the Philippine Scouts Heritage Society for its support of the film, and the Nevada chapter of the Filipino-American Veterans and Families organization presented the filmmakers the Freedom Award at the Leatherneck Club in Las Vegas.

“Forgotten Soldiers” tells the story of the Philippine Scouts, a little-known US Army organization composed of Filipino soldiers and American officers.  The Scouts were the backbone of General Douglas MacArthur’s US Army Forces in the Far East at the beginning of World War II.

Fighting alongside US National Guard units and the Philippine Army, they held out for more than four months on Bataan and Corregidor while every other Allied stronghold in the Pacific fell to the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy.

The soldiers were promised food, ammunition and reinforcements…but months went by and the reinforcements never came.  Eventually the men were surrounded by the Japanese, starved out and subjected to one of the worst atrocities in military history–the Bataan Death March.

The Freedom Award plaque and the congressional certificates were presented at the “Season of the Soldier” event organized by Ceasar Elpidio and Luke Perry of the “Two Guys” radio program in Las Vegas, and sponsored by the Nevada chapter of the Filipino-American Veterans and Families.

The event’s objective was to draw attention to Filipino veterans who served in the US Army during World War II. In addition to the sold-out crowd, the event was enhanced by the presence of Stephen Sifuentes, representing Senator Dean Heller, Keith Hughes representing Congressman Joe Heck, girls from Las Vegas’ “Pinups for Patriots” organization, and Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald.

The film has been recognized with numerous awards for its depiction of the Filipino soldiers who bore the brunt of the fighting during the early months of World War II. Its kudos include Gold and Bronze Peer Awards from the Television, Internet and Video Association, the “Power of Film” Award from the Beloit International Film Festival, certificates of recognition from the City and County of Los Angeles and from the California State Senate, and awards from military commanders.

Since January 2012, “Forgotten Soldiers” has been shown at more than 50 museums, universities and events throughout the United States and the Philippines.

“Forgotten Soldiers” is a story of sacrifice, courage and ultimate triumph over the enemy. It was written and produced specifically to call attention to the brave Filipino soldiers who served in this little-known segment of the United States Army.

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Tags: film , Honor , legislators , Movie , recognition , US Congress , Veterans

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