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09/07/2016: San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors paid tribute and issued a Certificate of Honor in memory of the late Corporal Magdalena Estoista Leones

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San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors paid tribute and issued a Certificate of Honor in memory of the late Corporal Magdalena Estoista Leones, a Filipina American war veteran and unsung heroine of WWII, who passed away last June 16, 2016. 

Supervisor Jane Kim stated “We are diminished by the passing of Corporal Magdalena Leones, Silver Star Filipina World War II veteran-- the only Asian to receive this honor. Corporal Leones has paved the way for many women that are breaking barriers in every arena. I look forward to her story and the story of the 250,000 Filipino World War II veterans being told for all to remember”.

Cpl. Leones’ Silver Star citation states that she was an intelligence operative in the Philippines who, on Feb. 25 to 26, 1944 “repeatedly risked her life to carry important intelligence data, vital radio parts and medical supplies through heavily garrisoned enemy-held territory.” Before she turned 25, Magdalena had already been arrested by Japanese soldiers three times, and escaped all three times harm-free. She was eventually enlisted in the Philippine army and became an official member of the USAFIP.

On July 18 1945, Colonel Vlockman, the man who offered her a position as a special agent, recommended that Cpl. Leones be awarded the US Silver Star, the third- highest military decoration. Cpl. Leones is the fifth woman to receive the honor, and the only Asian. Later in her life, she was also awarded the Philippine Liberation Medal, the Resistance Movement Medal, the World War II Medal, and the Philippine Independence Ribbon.

Cpl. Leones moved to California from the Philippines in 1969. She worked as a clerk at Pacific Bell, owned homes in Richmond and in San Jose and did not talk much about her war exploits, according to her children. She is survived by sons Guillermo Tabor, Gildon Tabor and Gregorio Tabor; daughter Alijadra Maytas of West Virginia; husband Pedro Tabor of Richmond; and an adopted son, Leonard Yates. She had 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Corporal Magdalena Estoista Leones was one of the 250,000 Filipino soldiers who fought valiantly in World War II on behalf of the United 
States. 

Photo Credit: Inquirer.net