Corporal Magdalena Estoista Leones, the only Asian woman to receive the US Silver Star medal, has died at her home in Daly City, California.
Leones made history after receiving the Silver Star during World War II for ‘gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States.’
The Silver Star is the third-highest honor for valour awarded to members of the US Armed Forces.
Leones’ citation states that she was an intelligence operative in the Philippines – from February 27 to September 26, 1944, Leones “repeatedly risked her life to carry important intelligence data, vital radio parts and medical supplies through heavily garrisoned enemy-held territory.”
Leones moved to the US from the Philippines in 1969 where she worked as a clerk for Pacific Bell. She did not talk much about her war experiences, her family said.
A Memorial service will be held at Duggans Serra Mortuary in Daly City on June 25.
Her funeral arrangements are pending approval by the Philippine government to allow her burial at the Libingan ng Bayani, the National “Heroes” Cemetery, located in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, Manila.
Leones is survived by her three sons Guillermo Tabor, Gildon Tabor and Gregorio Tabor; and one daughter Alijadra Maytas from West Virginia; her husband Pedro Tabor of Richmond; and adopted son, Leonard Yates as well as 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Magdalena Estoista Leones was 95 years old.
From an insert provided by the Inquirer – her Silver Star Citation reads:
To ACCOMPANY THE AWARD OF THE SILVER STAR
(General Orders No. 88 Hq XIV Corps, dated 22 October 1945)
Corporal Magdalena Leones,
Special Agent, USAFIP, North Luzon
For gallantry in action at Luzon, Philippine Islands, from 27 February to 26 September 1944. During the period cited, Corporal Leones repeatedly risked her life to carry important intelligence data, vital radio parts and medical supplies through heavily garrisoned enemy-held territory. Although she knew that detection by the enemy would result in torture and execution, Corporal Leones fearlessly continued her perilous missions between guerrilla forces throughout Luzon with notable success. Through her intrepidity and skill as a special agent, Corporal Leones contributed materially to the early liberation of the Philippines.
Signed, Lt. General O.W. Griswold, US Army, Commanding