CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City--Thirty four military personnel who were dubbed as 'Zamboanga Heroes, were awarded combat medals for their selfless sacrifices and acts of heroism during the Armed Forces of the Philippines anniversary today.
They were among the 54 awardees who were honored by President Benigno S Aquino III during the awards rites held at the AFP grandstand here at around 10:30am.
The other awardees were cited for their exemplary services during the humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations during the onslaught of typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas and also for outstanding performance of duties in their respective units.
Three of the awardees paid the ultimate sacrifice during the fierce clashes against Misuari's followers in the highly urbanized terrain of Zamboanga City.
One of those who were granted posthumous award was Private First Class Ian Paquit, 21, of the 3rd Scout Ranger Company who was cited for his heroic actions as an Automatic Rifleman who engaged the enemy forces in a bloody gun battle. For his conspicuous acts of courage under intense enemy fire, he was given the Medal for Valor, the highest military award in the Philippine military.
Paquit's father, Eduardo, of Pagadian City, was teary eyed but proud upon receiving the award in his son's behalf.
Staff Sergeant Rehum Magno, 37, of Sultan Kudarat received the Distinguished Conduct Star, the second highest military award for his exceptional bravery. He was cited for singlehandedly attacking the enemy position in Sta Catalina village using hand grenades, enabling his company to breach the heavily-concreted walls and overrun the enemy.
Magno was among the 14 military personnel (11 officers and 3 enlisted men) who were bestowed the said award by the President.
Five senior military officers also received the Distinguished Service Star for their supporting roles in the military operations during the siege of Zamboanga. The DSS is normally awarded to officers who completed a tour of duty in a position of major responsibility.
Eight other soldiers were granted the Gold Cross Medal for gallantry of action and acts of heroism involving risk of life in various military operations all over the country.
Several other soldiers received the award of the Gawad Sa Kaunlaran for their exceptional performance during notable events such as the relief operations in the Visayas which was ravaged typhoon Yolanda.
Meanwhile, the singing-composer Navy officer, Lt Junior Grade Lady Chatterly I Alvaro-Sumbeling, was also granted the Outstanding Achievement Medal for her masterpiece, the "Bayanihan Song" which became a favorite song of the AFP for its civil-military operations activities.