JACKSONVILLE – Family and friends gathered Saturday for the funeral of World War II veteran Patricio Ganio, who was a Purple Heart recipient, activist, teacher and father who died at the age of 98.
Those closest to him said the decorated war hero lived life to the fullest.
Born in the Phillippines, Ganio fought against the Japanese in World War II, and was a prisoner of war and a concentration camp survivor.
“He was on that famous death march and somehow by the grace of God he survived that,” said his eldest daughter, Teresita Dullano.
Ganio survived a 70-mile march without food or water to prison camps, then was released and moved to the United States, where he embarked on fighting for full veterans’ benefits.
“He lived and worked in Washington, D.C., for all for 20 years,” Dullano said. “They were able to pass a bill so that they can get their benefits. He’s been with many presidents of the U.S. He’s been with very many senators and congresspeople.”
It was a fight that led to the creation of the Philippine Embassy Veterans Affairs Office.
Ganio was awarded a Purple Heart and Congressional Gold Medal in 2017.
Ganio may have died, but his family says he lived a remarkable life.
"He made a difference," said daughter Josephine Ganio. "I remember my children asking me what grandpa is doing, what are the pictures taken with all the presidents? I said, 'I don’t know.' He wouldn’t really never talk about it. He is not a boastful man."
No doubt, the memory of this war hero will live on.
“He was a very loving, very honorable man," Dullano said. "Very good provider to his children and a very good husband to our late mother.”
Ganio was invited to the White House by President George Herbert Walker Bush for the signing of the Immigration Naturalization Act. He also received other awards, such as the Recognition of Merit Award from the Veterans Federation of the Philippines.