Filipino World War II hero honored in Houston, Texas.
Filipino Prisoner of War Francisco Panis recognized for World War II Service.
Friday, August 24, 2012. At Rice University in Houston, Texas, Major General Anthony Taguba presented the family of Filipino World War II hero Francisco Panis with U.S. and Philippine Army medals that were long overdue. The ceremonies featured a screening of Platinum Multimedias new documentary movie Forgotten Soldiers, about the battles of Bataan and Corregidor, and speeches of congratulation from various dignitaries including General Taguba and Dr. Robert Ivany, President of the University of Saint Thomas which is also in Houston.
As a young Filipino college student, Francisco Panis was called to active duty by the Philippine Army shortly before the Japanese attacked in December 1941. He served honorably with his unit, the 23rd Infantry Regiment, as the American and Filipino forces fell back to Bataan Peninsula and held out for four months. Ultimately the Filipino and American soldiers were starved out by the surrounding Japanese Army and Navy, and on April 9, 1942, Major General Edward King ordered all troops on Bataan to surrender. General King hoped to save his mens lives, but their Japanese captors forced Panis and his fellow soldiers onto the Bataan Death Marchand made them walk, in the blistering heat, sixty-five miles to prison camp at Capas, Tarlac. Panis men did their best to protect him, hiding his rank as a third lieutenant from their captors, to spare him additional beatings and mistreatment. Panis ultimately survived the prison camp experience, where more than half of the Filipino soldiers died of disease, malnutrition and mistreatment. When General Douglas MacArthurs forces returned to the Philippines in 1945, Panis and other survivors re-joined U.S. forces fighting Japan.
After the war Panis immigrated to the United States to raise his family, but ultimately returned to his family home in rural Agoo, La Union, in the Philippines. He never received recognition for the ordeal he and his comrades suffered, nor any medal for his service. Francisco Panis passed away in 2003.
Christy Panis Poisot, Francisco Panis granddaughter in Houston, Texas, learned about her grandfather while researching family history. She contacted Major General Anthony Taguba in Washington, D.C., who helped her make application for Franciscos long overdue medals. On Friday evening, honored by a U.S. Army color guard and a capacity crowd at the Rice University Media Center, Francisco Panis was posthumously awarded the combat and Prisoner of War medals, and the recognition, that in life he never received.
Francisco Panis story is unfortunately typical of the tens of thousands of Filipino soldiers in the Philippine Army and the U.S. Armys Philippine Scouts, who are at last recognized in the film Forgotten Soldiers, but who have lived so many years with their heroism and sacrifices almost unknown, even to their immediate families. The ceremonies at prestigious Rice University, hosted by the Chao Center for Asian Studies and the Rice Media Center, have finally brought closure to at least this one hero and his family.
For additional information. photographs, and/or interview opportunities, contact:
Christy Panis Poisot, firstname.lastname@example.org, 713-269-2461
Chris Schaefer, Public Relations, Chris.Schaefer@bataandiary.com, 832-428-1977.