Assemblymember Ting Honors Daly City’s David Tejada as the 19th Assembly District’s Veteran of the Year

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World War II hero honored at the Capitol for his service

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Philip Y. Ting (D-San Francisco) honored his 19th Assembly District Veteran of the Year at the 6th Annual Assembly Veterans Recognition Luncheon held at the State Capitol and the Sacramento Convention Center. American hero David Tejada, 90, a former POW in World War II and still a hospital volunteer, was escorted to Sacramento to receive his award.

In 1941, Tejada joined the elite Philippine Scouts right after high school at the age 19.  The scouts were distinguished native Filipinos assigned to the United States Army Philippine Department and under the command of American officers. While a scout, Tejada survived the notorious, 80 mile, Bataan Death March of 1942. The death march was the forcible transfer by the Imperial Japanese Army of 60-80,000 Filipino and American prisoners of war to a prison camp where more than half of the death march survivors died.

On May 9, 2009, the Japanese government formally apologized for the atrocity.

“I can’t imagine being a prisoner in my own country, let alone experiencing the brutal conditions of the Battan Death March,” Ting said. “All Americans owe Mr. Tejada a great deal of gratitude for his courage and sacrifice.”

After Tejada was finally released from the prison camp, the local guerrilla resistance recruited him to spy on the Japanese.  With the Liberation of the Philippines, Tejada was able to rejoin the Philippine Scouts Group.

“The day the Japanese surrendered was the happiest day,” Tejada said as he smiled and vividly remembered the celebration.

After World War II, the United States' armed forces were reduced and the Philippine Scout organizations were disbanded.  A grateful America offered Tejada the opportunity to remain on duty in the regular United States Army and to become a citizen of the United States.

“I was on a ship for six years and then used the GI Bill and went to vocational school,” said Tejada, looking sharp in his uniform that still fits. “Then I did army transport for 33 years. My life has been a blessing.”

Tejada settled in Daly City and later found a home-away-from-home at the San Francisco Veterans Equity Center. In addition to advocating for veterans’ benefits and equity, the center is a place where Filipino American veterans of WW II gather to socialize and find a taste of their homeland. Services provided by the center also include legal and affordable housing referrals, educational experiences and translation services.

Tejada has five children and “many, many” grandchildren that he sometimes takes care of when he is not volunteering. They all live close by. He holds no animosity toward the Japanese who he says are now “a new generation and westernized.”

“War is war,” Tejada says. “And that war was a long time ago. Now we drive their cars.”

Assemblymember Ting is the Chair of Assembly Democratic Caucus and the Assembly Select Committee on Asia/California Trade and Investment Promotion, and he serves on the Budget, Business, Professions and Consumer Protection, Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials and the Revenue and Taxation committees.

CONTACT: Carol Chamberlain, carol.chamberlain@asm.ca.gov, office: 916-319-2019, cell: 916-804-5355