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The Many Faces
of the Warrior


Sgt. Livaudais

Sgt. Menusa


Lance Cpl. O.J. Santa Maria


Joseph Hudson





There were two Filipino-Americans in uniform who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq, Sgt Livaudais and Sgt Menusa. Both belong to elite military units; Sgt Livaudais was an Army Ranger who died when a pregnant Arab woman charged the checkpoint in a vehicle carrying a suicide bomb. He is survived in United States by his own pregnant wife. Marine Sgt Menusa came from a military family.

" Filipino-Americans are one of the fastest growing groups in the US, but we are less than 1% of the total."

Filipino-Americans are one of the fastest growing groups in the US, but we are less than 1% of the total. The total casualties in Operation Iraqi Freedom thus far represent more than our proportional share. The composite numbers now indicate a polyglot military of new immigrants and women. Just like the great American pastime, the names of baseball players on the lineup contain Hispanics and Asians, changing the American landscape.

September 11 changed everything, for the multi-ethnic victims of the World Trade Center reflect a US Armed Forces collection of men of different colors. An executive order granting automatic citizenship to the casualties were issued before the conflict started and immediate citizenship to those who serve in combat.

Sgt Menusa was not only buried with the American flag but also with the long-awaited citizenship that eluded him, despite the fact he had served in Gulf Wars I and II. He is not a reluctant hero, he volunteered. Somber news from the White House read,

On Friday, during a tearful tour of the two Washington-area military hospitals, Bush met with 75 wounded troops, handed out 10 Purple Hearts and watched two servicemen, one from Mexico, the other from the Philippines, be sworn in as U.S. citizens. Citizenship for one of them, Lance Cpl. O.J. Santa Maria, a Filipino who lives in Daly City, Calif., was expedited as a result of an executive order. Bush signed the bill last year that allowed faster naturalization for anyone involved in military hostilities. Suffering visibly from a shoulder wound received in Asariyah and hooked up to a blood transfusion, Santa Maria stood, ignoring protests, for the ceremony. Halfway through, he broke down sobbing from the pain and the occasion. "We're proud to have you as an American," Bush told him, according to press secretary Ari Fleischer. "I'll never forget this moment."

Although this war may have been dominated by technology, the history that unfolded in our living rooms will differ from the history of the soldiers who fought in the conflict. The good guys are not the United Nations but a polyglot generation whose volunteer forces are made up of people from two countries that were once enemies. The Army's chief of Staff is Japanese, the second ranking Army officer in the front is an Arab, and the Kitty Hawk Battle Group was dispatched to the Persian Gulf headed by Captain Corpus. These are only human stories from home rather than from the battlefield itself.

"Miracle" is the theme in the mind of a Fil-am mother who prayed with her block rosary for the safe return of her son, Joseph. Captured in southern Iraq with four other soldiers from the 507th Maintenance Company, Spc. Joseph Hudson is now a POW, a 23-year-old motor pool mechanic and rear-guard G.I. who has suddenly been thrust into the spotlight of a nation's drama and a family's heartache. "I didn't have any idea at all that my son would get captured in Iraq," said Anecita Hudson, 51, a Philippines-born military wife and mother whose eyes well with tears almost at the mention of her first-born son. "My baby don't work in high technology weapons -- he just went over there to help the others. He's just one of those good boys who went over there. All I knew was my son was in Kuwait." The gruesome pictures of the captured soldier were not shown on National TV but it did not escape Aling Aniceta when she saw her son on the Filipino TV cable satellete. Almost naive at times, but honestly said she could read her Joseph face on the screen . Her interviews were shown on Iraq TV, and during his captivity, a guard told Joseph that they saw his mom on television. Joseph Hudson is now flying home for Easter.

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