LA UNION: FIL-AMERICAN SOLDIER KILLED IN IRAP GIVEN HERO'S BURIAL

[PHOTO AT LEFT: HERO’S BURIAL: Gen. John MacDonald, official representative of the US army, hands over the American flag to Helen Therriem, mother of Fil-American US army specialist Solomon Bangayan (inset) who was killed in action in Iraq earlier this month. Bangayan was given the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal as he was buried in his hometown of Sudipen in La Union yesterday. - Andy Zapata NT>]

SUDIPEN, LA UNION, January 24, 2004 (STAR) By Artemio Dumlao And Andy Zapata Jr. - SUDIPEN, La Union — US army specialist Solomon Bangayan, who was killed in an ambush in Iraq early this month, was given a hero’s burial here yesterday by his townmates and the US government.

The US military gave full burial honors to the 24-year-old Filipino-American and posthumously conferred on him the Bronze Star, its fourth highest award for gallantry in action.

The US army also awarded Bangayan the Purple Heart and Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary medals.

Tears fell as the Sudipen townsfolk joined the funeral cortege that brought his remains to the San Francisco Norte municipal cemetery. US army honor guards trailed his casket.

US Embassy charge d’affaires Joseph Mussomeli said, "The US government greatly regrets the untimely death of this young native of the town of Sudipen. It is a tragic loss for his family, his friends, and both the United States and Philippines."

Bangayan, Mussomeli said, "went to Iraq to help the Iraqi people rebuild their country after three decades of cruel oppression. It is unfortunate that there are those who violently oppose establishing a secure and democratic Iraq."

He added: "Bangayan embodied the close relationship of the United States and the Republic of the Philippines. Together, we are fighting the global war on terrorism and are now bringing Iraq the stability and peace it needs to build a free and democratic society."

Mussomeli said Bangayan gave his life so that others could be free. "There is no higher sacrifice," he said.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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