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Soldier in Zambo siege gets highest recognition

/ 10:45 AM December 20, 2013

The late Army Private First Class Ian Paquit.

MANILA, Philippines–President Benigno Aquino gave recognition to fifty-three military personnel and civilians during the 78th anniversary of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on Friday at Camp Aguinaldo including the Medal for Valor, the highest military award in combat.

The Medal for Valor (posthumous), was given to the late Army Private First Class Ian Paquit of the 3rd Scout Ranger Company for battling the Moro National Liberation during the Zamboanga crisis last September.

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A 21 year old native of Pagadian City, he was killed in Sta. Barbara village on September 24 after a bullet pierced his neck. He was previously wounded in action on September 13 but he went back to fighting.

“During the operations, heavy exchanges of fire trapped a section of the 3rd Scout Ranger Company. Due to massive firepower coming form the well-entrenched enemyy forces and deteriorating cover, Private First Class Paquit adjusted his position to a better line of sight to provide cover fire for the repositioning troops, notwithstanding his vulnerability to enemy fire,” a part of his citation read.

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“With courage, dedication and sacrifice of PFC Paquit, further casualties were avoided and the neutralization of enemy firing positions greatly contributed to the clearing and capture of enemy strongholds,” it added.

The operations for that encounter resulted to the capture of 41 MNLF fighters and 15 enemies.

His award will be received by his father, Mr. Eduardo Paquit.

A Valor awardee has the following benefits:

– Lifetime monthly gratuity of P20,000
– dependents entitled to precedence in employment in government agencies
– priority in approval of loans
– discounts on transportation, entertainment and admission fees
– free medical/dental service
– scholarship for dependents

The last time the Medal for Valor was given was in 2004. Lieutenant Colonel Noel Bulan fought the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan in a “hand to hand” combat.

‘I love my job more than anything else,’ Paquit’s sister, Irene, was in tears when she told reporters after the awarding ceremony that there were no words that would describe how proud they were for their brother. He has three other siblings.

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She said their family was against his brother’s decision of joining the military. He only served the military for three years before he was killed.

“We tried to stop him but he really wanted to be in the service,” she said in Filipino.

When it was the first time he got injured, Irene told his brother to come back home. “I don’t want to bury you, I told him.”

But the soldier Paquit replied to him: “I love my job more than anything else.”

Eduardo, despite losing his son, thanked the military leadership for honoring him.

“Even though it hurts for our family that he died, we accepted it. His life did not go to waste because he gave it to the country.”

“Even if God took back his life, I am proud that he saved many lives,” he said teary-eyed.

Other awardees

Forty-eight other soldiers who stepped up in conflict and natural disasters were recognized in the awarding ceremonies-13 of them will be recipients of the Distinguished Conduct Star, the second highest military award. Two civilian employees and two ROTC cadets were also awarded.

Colonel Danilo Pamonag, the head of Joint Special Operations Group, the main effort during the Zamboanga crisis, was one of the awardees of the DCS.

Nine others, two of them posthumously, received the Gold Cross Medal. EN3 Jose Audrey Banares, the first fatality of the Zamboanga crisis, was given the GCM.

His unit, the Naval Special Operations Group, intercepted the MNLF at sea when they entered Zamboanga.

Air Force hero during Yolanda recognized

Lieutenant Colonel Fermin Carangan, the Air Force officer who saved a six-year-old boy as they battled sea waves during super typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) was given a Bronze Cross Medal.

The officer and the young boy Miguel were at sea for six hours, and their bodies were brought by the waves from Tacloban to Basey in Samar.

During Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day, more than 100 soldiers and civilians were also awarded.

About 4,000 personnel were given awards at various ceremonies held at different military camps to honor the deserving soldiers.

In his speech, AFP chief General Emmanuel Bautista lauded the soldiers for their sacrifices in this challenging year.

“All these challenges were met with courage, strength if spirit by every soldier, sailor and airman of the AFP. In light of this, let me express my deepest gratitude to every one of you. Thank you very much for your silent sacrifices for always performing above and beyond the call of duty. You all deserve this recognition and this day is for you,” he said.

Related stories:

Air Force officer recounts 6-hour ordeal at sea with young boy at height of ‘Yolanda’


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TAGS: AFP, Medal for Valor, Military, MNLF, Zambo seige, Zamboanga
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