TRIPLER ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Hawaii –
It's been 20 years since Col. Cirilito Sobejana, the Armed Forces of the
Philippines (AFP) Philippine Army G3, visited Tripler Army Medical Center
During his first visit, a then Capt. Sobejana, wondered if
doctors here would be able to save his nearly severed right arm.
recently got to shake hands and extend his thanks to TAMC staff for the medical
treatment that allowed him to continue his career in the AFP and the use of his
Sobejana is a recipient of the AFP's equivalent to the U.S. Medal of
Honor for actions taken against a terrorist organization in January of
After sustaining gun-shot wounds during a five-hour fire-fight,
Sobejana was medically evacuated to a local hospital in the southern region of
the Philippines and remained for four days until he was stable enough for
transfer to a medical facility in Manila.
Sobejana was then informed by
his military superiors that he would be sent abroad for advanced medical care at
TAMC. The U.S. military hospital provided his care because of the U.S. and the
Philippine alliance with over 70 years of deep military-to-military
"[My arm] was nearly severed. It was shattered ... At that time,
our hospitals didn't have that capability yet to treat my injury," recalled
After landing on Oahu, Sobejana was escorted via ambulance to
Sobejana spent ten months receiving care at Tripler where he
received almost a dozen separate operations, to include reconstructive surgery,
which ultimately saved his hand.
Sobejana light-heartedly recalls being
very well known among the surgical staff at TAMC and says he was often greeted
with a "welcome back" from staff just before undergoing his later
"I was very impressed with the care and the way they treated
me as a battle casualty," he said.
Sobejana then received post-operative
care at Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC), in San Antonio Texas.
transfer allowed him to continue care with his primary physician who had since
transitioned to the major medical facility there.
"I reported to the
hospital every day, Monday through Friday for my rehabilitation ... for four
After undergoing rehabilitation, Sobejana eventually regained
his strength and his competitive edge.
"Now I can do pushups. I can do 50
to 60 pushups in one minute."
Sobejana, who was in Hawaii as part of a
high-level planning conference between officials from the U.S. Army Pacific and
the AFP, says he has enjoyed his 39 year career and looks forward to the next
seven years before mandatory retirement. "I am happy now. I am happy doing my
job, serving the people and securing the land.
During the visit to TAMC,
Sobejana toured Vascular Surgery, Orthopedics and other clinics.
much has changed since his stay at TAMC, there is one thing he says is exactly
as he remembered. "The color is still the same. It's still a pink
He says he hopes to convey to the medical staff at TAMC and
BAMC the deep gratitude he feels for the care he received." I will not forget
them. I always treasure the things that they did for me just to save my arm."