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%.
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., https://www.veterans.senate.
If you want to participate in a memorial event, here is a list of what I could find.