Wednesday, April 06, 2022

Remembering the Bataan Death March

Eighty years ago this week, the men and women on the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines were fighting against all odds.

Four months of combat starting when Japan attacked the Philippines within hours of bombing Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941 and three months of starvation diet, air and artillery bombardment, and disease had taken their toll.  The U.S.-British Europe-first war policy combined with Japan's control of the sea and air was fundamental to the failure of supply and reinforcement.

In the early morning hours of April 9th, the new (March 11) commanding general of Am-Fil forces on the Bataan Peninsula, Major General Edward P. King Jr., decided that his troops would face slaughter if they tried to continue to fight. Fully aware that the 9th was the anniversary of the South's 1865 surrender at Appomattox, he ordered the men and women under his command—against General Douglas MacArthur’s orders—to surrender. Thus, 78,000 troops (66,000 Filipinos and 12,000 Americans were taken captive by Imperial Japan. Possibly 10,000 were in two field hospitals at the time. This is the largest contingent of U.S. soldiers ever to surrender.

Focused on saving his exhausted and ailing troops, General King could not imagine the horrors that surrender would hold. The same day as surrender, the Japanese put the survivors on what has become known as the Bataan Death March (BDM). It is estimated at maybe 2,000 either swam the three shark-infested, mined miles to the Fortress Island of Corregidor (NB: no one on Corregidor was on the BDM) or disappeared into the jungle. Those who made it to Corregidor became immediately members of the 4th Marines fighting shore defense. Corregidor was surrendered May 6th.

During the infamous Bataan Death March the Japanese neglected the sick and killed the wounded; denied the POWs food, water, and medical care; and abused, robbed, and tortured them.  These acts were both capricious and systematic. They became a constant for every POW of Imperial Japan. Thousands died. The first leg of the BDM March was 65 miles from the port of Mariveles at the southern tip of the Bataan Peninsula up the East Road to a train terminal at San Fernando. There the men were stuffed standing one hundred at a time into unventilated box cars for a 24 mile ride north to Capas. There the survivors--many died standing--were forced to walk another four miles to an unfinished Philippine Army training camp that was Japan's first POW camp on the Islands, Camp O'Donnell. With only two spigots for water, the camp was quickly compared with the Confederacy's Andersonville prison camp. Most of the deaths from the March happened here or at its successor camp Cabanatuan.

Survivors of the March endured three and a half years of death camps, brutal labor, and unimaginable indignities and injury. Many were taken to Japan aboard hell ships to be slave laborers for Japanese companies. More than half the Americans taken prisoner on Bataan died before war’s end. The death rate for American POWs of Japan was 40%, whereas for those in Nazi POW camps it was less than 2%.

Thus, April 9th, are the 80th anniversaries of the fall of the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines and the start of the Bataan Death March. The BDM is one the greatest war crimes of World War II. So seminal in American history were these events that Bataan is part of the American lexicon as a metaphor for a tortuous undertaking and is the origin for this week’s National Former POW Recognition Day.

🖋If you want your congressperson or two senators to remember this eventful day, I urge you to contact them immediately and ask why they are going into recess on Thursday without offering any statements or attending any memorial events. A Tweet will not do. Here is American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society Jan Thompson' s testimony last month to the House and Senate Veterans Committees.,

💮The Japanese have not forgotten. They arranged and have leaked the fact that the Speaker of the House of Representatives and a large delegation of members of congress will meet with the Japanese PM in Tokyo on April 9th.

If you want to participate in a memorial event, here is a list of what I could find. 

1. FRIDAY, APRIL 8, 11:00 am. World War II Memorial, Washington, DC.

Hosted by The Philippine Embassy 

Annual ceremony at the National WWII Memorial by the Pacific Victory Arch at the Southern Fountain Coping by the engravings of the words “Bataan” and “Corregidor” 

The Philippine Ambassador and Filipino military officials attend. Helping organize the event is Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP) that is headed by General Tony Taguba, who is best known for his investigation of the war crimes at Abu Ghraib prison. 

On April 2nd, FilVetsREPs hosted a memorial walk/run at The Marina on Daingerfield Island in Alexandria, Virginia.

Contact: Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project

5002 Halley Farm Ct.

Alexandria, VA 22309 

2. SUNDAY, APRIL 10, 11:30 am, USS Hornet Sea, Air & Space Museum  Alameda, CA.

Hosted by Bataan Legacy Historical Society, the Philippine Scouts Heritage Society and the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society

Remembrance and Reconciliation, Bataan Death March 80th and honoring those on the three ship hellship voyage to Japan from December 1944 to January 1945. Planes from the USS Hornet bombed two of the ships, killing over 600 POWs. These men included Amb Walter Mondale's first cousin and the Smothers Brothers' father. Of the 1,600 men who boarded the Oryoku Maru in Manila on December 13, 1944, less than 300 survived the war. The event is organized by the Filipino American organization, Bataan Legacy Historical Society. 

>Governor Gavin Newsom has been invited. His maternal grandfather Arthur Menzies was with 60th Coast Artillery Regiment on Corregidor. He was a POW who was taken by hellship to Japan where he was a slave laborer for Nippon Steel mining coal. Menzies committed sucide in front of his twin daughters in 1973 when Newsom was 6. 

Contact: Cecilia I. Gaerlan, Executive Director,

Bataan Legacy History Society

(510) 520-8540, 

3. SATURDAY, APRIL 9, 1:00pm Symbolic March, 2:00 pm Program, Dominican College, Orangeburg, NY

Hosted by the Philippine American Cultural Foundation


Remember Bataan. Symbolic March on Bataan Road at  the site of the former Fort Shanks, followed by a formal program at Dominican College. 

WATCH the Symposium via Live-Stream, starting at 4:00 pm EDT, HERE.
Program HERE.

Gathering for March at 12:30pm at Tappan Zee High School, Dutch Hill Rd., Orangeburg, NY,

Program at Dominican College, Hennessy Center, 495 Western Hwy S, Blauvelt, NY 10913

Camp Shanks was built when the story of Bataan was still fresh in everyone’s memory. Two intersecting streets at the camp were named Bataan Road and Victory Road. This was to remind the troops departing for Europe that if they could emulate the courage, fortitude and spirit of men on Bataan and Corregidor victory would be achieved.


Contact: Jerome Kleiman, Executive Director

Philippine American Cultural Foundation 

 (845) 641-4217


4. MARCH 20th – 27th. White Sands, New Mexico

Hosted by the White Sands Missile Range and the New Mexico National Guard

Annual Memorial Death March organized since 1989

The past two years has been held as a virtual only event.

The March has grown from 100 to almost 10,000 in the last in-person event.A number of Senators would join.

Contact: White Sands Missile Range Public Affairs Office  

FMWR-Bataan P.O. Box 400

White Sands Missile Range, NM  88002  

5.  SATURDAY, APRIL 2, 2022, Noon (Closing Ceremony), Chesapeake, Virginia

Hosted by the VFW, SSG Jonathan Kilian Dozier Memorial Post 2894

Annual Bataan Death March Memorial Walk held at the Dismal Swamp Canal Trail,

1113 George Washington Hwy, Chesapeake, VA 23323

The event consists of three different walks starting at 7:00 am of various distances as well as a memorial ceremony dedicated to the survivors and other veterans. The event is open to all.

Contact: LTC Carl M. Dozier, AUS, Ret.  Gold Star Father,,

VFW Post 2894 commander or 

Jose Vazquez, (757) 362-4227, or 

6. SATURDAY, APRIL 9, 10:00 am, Wreath Laying Ceremony, Brainerd, Minnesota

Hosted by the Brainerd National Guard 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 194th Armor Regiment 

Annual ceremony at the Brainerd Training and Community Center (National Guard Armory), 1115 Wright St., Brainerd, MN 56401

The ceremony be livestreamed on the following Facebook pages: 

On September 22nd there is a Memorial Death March run. 

Contact: (651) 268-8113, 

Event contacts: Capt Michael Popp, (651) 268-8681

Sgt First Class Jade Caponi, (651) 268-8123,     

Battalion Commander, Lt Col Jacob Hegestad 

7. SATURDAY, APRIL 9, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm, Rededication of Bataan Memorial Park, Fort Bayard, New Mexico

Hosted by several community organizations

Annual festival and commemoration. This year’s event will take place between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. 

Contact: Ms. Liz Lopez, (575) 574-2964, 

8. SATURDAY, APRIL 9, 6:00 am, Bataan Death March Commemoration

Valdosta, Georgia

Hosted by Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office

First held in 2021. The course is broken up into three legs, each 8.7 miles long, Marchers can cover one or two legs or complete the whole course.


Contact: Lt Rob Picciotti, with the subject line “BATAAN MARCH.” $20 fee.


9. INDEFINITELY POSTPONED, Bataan Memorial Park, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Honoring New Mexico's 200th and 515th Coast Artillery men, defenders of Luzon, Bataan and Corregidor 


Contact: (505) 226-4899, 

10. SATURDAY, MAY 7, 10:00am-Noon, Bataan & Corregidor Commemoration

Hosted by the ADBC Museum, Education & Research Center, Wellsburg, West Virginia

Memorial service followed by lunch at the ADBC Museum, Education & Research Center,

Contact: Mr. James S. Brockman, Curator

945 Main Street, Wellsburg, WV  26070, (304) 737-7295, 


11. SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2022. Maywood Bataan Day, Maywood, Illinois

Maywood Bataan Day Organization

Every Third Sunday in September. Begun in 1942, by the American Bataan Clan (ABC)m it is the oldest continual ceremony honoring the men of Company B, 192nd Tank Battalion who fought on Bataan. The town had the greatest number of soldiers from one town on the Bataan Death March. 

One of the featured speakers at the first rally was Illinois Governor Green (1941 – 1949), who remarked, “…the heroism of the men who defended Bataan and Corregidor and our other outposts will endure forever, giving new inspiration and new courage to free men everywhere”.


Contact: Col Richard A Mcmahon, Jr., President, 

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