We asked you to tell us about a veteran who continues to serve and inspire. From hundreds of compelling entries, we chose to tell the stories of eight veterans. The first-ever Veterans Community Showcase is presented in partnership with UMUC.
Not everyone in the world can be described with a word that ends in “…est.” Today’s featured veteran has an “…est” applied to him, meet Edward Soriano. The highest ranking Filipino American officer to have served in the US military.
During the ceremony where he added his third star, Lt. General Edward Soriano showed a side of himself that characterized his command style. He thanked his mother by saying, “I certainly wouldn’t be here without her.”
In reference to why he received his third star, he said of the Army’s senior leadership, “Kind of shows you they have a sense of humor.”
Born in the Philippines, Soriano moved to the United States in the 1950s when his father, who was also in the Army, was stationed in Ft. Benning, Georgia. Soriano credits his father, Fred Soriano, with his desire to join the military.
“I thought what my father was doing was good,“ Soriano said. “He was a great example for me. He was the reason I joined the military.”
The senior Soriano was a corporal in the 57th Infantry, also known as the Philippine Scouts, during World War II. After the American surrender at Bataan to the Japanese, Fred became a prisoner of war and was forced to be part of the Bataan Death March. He survived, only to become a prisoner of war again during the Korean War.
Today, the younger Soriano is an Honorary Board member of the Bataan Legacy Historical Society. This is an organization that pushes to include accurate historical facts in high school curriculum about the Filipino contribution to the Second World War.
After graduating in 1969 with a degree in management, he asked his father about a career in the military. The military would open doors for Soriano that wouldn’t be opened any other place, and besides, “I was interested in that way of life,” he said.
Commissioned as a second lieutenant of infantry through the ROTC program at San Jose State University, he was drawn to the Army’s diversity, which he views as a source of America’s military strength.
Soriano’s military record has brought him many distinctions and award throughout the years, including the Distinguished Service Medal, two Defense Superior Service Medals, four awards of the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star. He was director for operations, readiness and mobilization at the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff of Operations and Plans.
“It’s a significant responsibility,” Soriano continued in his address. “You’re entrusted with the lives of the soldiers and their families. It takes dedication and hard work to succeed.”
That dedication and hard work helped our country in a way most people don’t know about. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the government set up a homeland security department under the Joint Forces Command. Soriano was the military’s second director of homeland security, a position he would hold for 10 months until he was made Commanding General of I Corps and Fort Lewis in Washington.
Soriano, only the second American general to have roots in the Philippines Islands, says it’s always possible to achieve success in your chosen field – especially if it’s the military you choose.
“If a person establishes the goals and objectives, works very hard at what he does, and if that person doesn’t give up too easily and commits himself, dedicates himself to what he wants to do,” he said.
After retiring from the Army in 2004, Soriano made a trip back to the Philippines for the first time since migrating to California in the 1960’s. While there, local residents asked him why it took more than 50 years to return.
“There was simply no time!” he responded.
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