Chicago mayor, community leaders honor slain Fil-Am doctor

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

April 28, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel calls Jerry Umanos – the Filipino-American doctor killed in Kabul, Afghanistan last week – an American hero who sacrificed his own life to save others.

Known to Afghans as a “true champion” who treated the children of Kabul and trained Afghan medical workers, Chicago-based pediatrician Umanos was among the three Americans gunned down by an Afghan Police at the Cure International Hospital in Kabul Thursday.

“Dr. Jerry” was reportedly meeting the two American guests at the hospital’s gate when the Afghan police security guard open fired, killing the three and injuring several others including an American nurse.

Authorities say the shooter has been arrested but his motive was not clear.

“I’d like to start by saying our family has suffered a great loss. Our family and friends have suffered a great loss, and our hearts are aching.” In a press conference, Jan Schuitema, wife of Umano said.

“While our hearts are aching for our loss, we’re also aching for the loss of the other families, as well as the loss and the multiple losses that the Afghan people have experienced.”

Balitang America spoke to Dr. Jerry’s 90-year-old father Romeo and his elder brother Henry from Inverness, Fla.

Romeo, a retired Senior Design Engineer for Ford Motor Company and General Motors (GM) said his son’s main purpose in life was to serve the needy.

He said Afghanistan is a dangerous place for Americans but that did not stop Dr. Jerry from practicing in Kabul for nine years.

“He didn’t have the fear, despite the danger that he face there, he didn’t have the fear to be afraid to work he was just concerned of how he could be of help to the people,” Romeo Umanos said.

“He sacrificed his life for the need of the people there, not only in Afghanistan but everywhere he goes.”

Jerry’s Brother, Henry Umanos said, “I think his legacy is his passion to help those people that are in need of medical assistance that would otherwise not get it.”

In a statement, the U.S. State Department “condemns in the strongest terms the abhorrent attack, which targeted humanitarian workers who were helping improve the lives of afghans through the provision of medical assistance.”

Meantime, Washington, DC community leaders said Dr. Jerry is a Filipino hero.

Community Leader Bing Branigin said, “Pwede naman siyang kumita ng malaki as a private practitioner. Why did he decide to go there? Bata pa siya, wala pang 40. Nandun siya, dinededicate niya, because he was there to save lives.”

John Melegrito said, “He is an inspiring example of courage, humility, of compassion, and if we can only emulate that kind of example in the way we conduct ourselves here, then I think it’s going to be a much better world for everybody concerned.”

According to his family, Dr. Jerry’s remains are now on their way to Dover, Md. for an autopsy and will then be brought to Lawndale Christian Clinic in Illinois for a Tuesday memorial service.

You can contact Don Tagala at don_tagala@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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