Mary Jane Hellekjaer (seated, second from right) holds a bronze replica of the Congressional Gold Medal, which she received on behalf of her father, Brigadier General Clyde A. Selleck. Joining the 99-year-old matriarch are four generations of family members. General Taguba (left) officiated the award ceremony. Photo by Bing Branigin.
September 6, 2023
Four generations of family members attended a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony on September 5, 2023 to honor Brigadier General Clyde A. Selleck, US Army Retired, former Commanding General 71st Division of the Philippine Commonwealth Army. Officiated by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret), the event was the 104th award ceremony conducted by the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP).
The medal was presented to BG Selleck’s 99-year-old daughter, Mary Jane Hellekjaer, who is currently residing at the Maplewood Senior Living in Bethesda, MD. where the ceremony was held.
During World War II, BG Selleck spent more than three years as a prisoner of war after US Armed Forces of the Far East surrendered at Bataan in April 1942. He was among 3,000 Americans placed on Japanese hell ships and endured the brutality of Prisoner of War camps in Japan and Manchuria, where the Japanese detained senior Allied officers.
A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Class 1910, he retired in 1947 and lived with his wife in Alexandria, VA. He died at a nursing home in Silver Spring, MD. on January 11, 1973, and was interred next to his wife at Arlington National Cemetery.
In his remarks, Gen. Taguba said: “This award is a once in a lifetime event especially for the Hellekjaer family. For those we are honoring like General Selleck with the Congressional Gold Medal, the war reflects the interminable cost on the lives and sacrifice of some 260,000 men and women who fought during World War II in the Philippines. We must not forget their sacrifice in defense of the United States and the Philippines.”
FilVetREP Executive Secretary Jon Melegrito closed the ceremonies by restating FiLVetREP’s mission “to honor the memory of our veterans by enshrining their stories in American history so that the next generation will long remember what they did and cherish what they lived and died for.”
The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP), is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, community-based, all-volunteer national initiative whose mission is to obtain national recognition of Filipino and American WW11 soldiers across the United States and the Philippines for their wartime service to the U.S. and the Philippines from July 26, 1941 to December 31, 1946. For more information about Filipino WWII veterans and how to get involved, visit our website at www.filvetrep.org or find us on Facebook or Twitter.