Severino Abela, a native of the Philippines who lives in Cypress, joined the U.S. Army during World War II. He is still fighting.
Now, however, the enemy is the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, which Abela and about 60 other Filipino World War II veterans are suing for their long-promised U.S. citizenship.
They have been waiting 40 years, they claim, and the suit in Los Angeles federal court is a "last resort," a spokesman said.
The suit contends that although the U.S. government offered citizenship to Filipinos who joined American forces during World War II, the naturalization examiners were withdrawn from the Philippines before many solders could fill out the necessary papers. When the examiners returned much later, the soldiers were no longer in the service and therefore deemed ineligible for citizenship.
The INS insisted that the service was not dragging its feet. "They are applying for a benefit under an expired act, 40 years later," said Stephen Sholomson, general attorney for the INS.
Most of the 175,000 Filipino in the U.S. military were naturalized, but an estimated 1,600 still are trying to become citizens.
About 500 mourners gathered at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale to honor Bruce Wayne, who had been a traffic reporter for 25 of his 52 years when his plane crashed on takeoff from Fullerton Municipal Airport.
Wayne, who for years had broadcast rush-hour traffic conditions over radio stations KFI and KOST, was described as "the guardian angel of our freeways" by his widow, Lois.
During a 15-minute aerial display, squadrons of helicopters, single-engine planes and World War II-vintage aircraft flew low over the cemetery, and a skywriter traced a cross and Wayne's initials overhead.
"I know that you all have lost a friend," Lois Wayne told the mourners in the cemetery's Old North Church. "I hope each of you will take some of his spirit with you."
It was a controversial church service, but "sometimes we have to get the public's eye and attention," said the Rt. Rev. Oliver Garver, suffragan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.
The topic was AIDS, the killer disease that is infecting mostly male homosexuals and intravenous drug users.
During the third in a series of Masses in Southern California, this one at St. Paul's Church in Tustin, the Rev. John M. Krumm said AIDS is more than a public health crisis.
"The problem is also one of an appalling lack of ordinary humanitarian concern where a despised and feared and hated minority tends to be at risk," he said.
He cited examples of AIDS victims being evicted from their apartments, fired from their jobs and refused service in restaurants. Even in hospitals, they are shunned, he said.
"There, they watch their food being left outside the door, even when they cannot walk. Intravenous medication goes unmonitored, calls to nurses unanswered. These victims often end up dying alone."