70th ANNIVERSARY OF THE FALL OF BATAAN AND CORREGIDOR, BATAAN DEATH MARCH
This spring marks the 70th anniversary of the fall of Bataan and Corregidor. On December 7, 1941 the world was shocked by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and mere hours later the Japanese bombed Manila, Guam, Wake and other sites in the Pacific forcing the United States and her Allies to declare war on Japan.
When the Japanese invaded the Philippine Islands the small forces of Americans in the Philippines were forced to defend the country with scarce food and medicine, antiquated weapons, and little hope of reinforcement. Most of the American planes available were destroyed at Clark Field on December 8th and the defense forces were concentrated on the Bataan peninsula and on the island of Corregidor in Manila harbor. Rations had been cut in half in the beginning of January and again in March and there was little quinine left to stave off the malaria that was rampant. Starvation and disease were factors as lethal as the Japanese reinforcements. Against overwhelming odds, the troops on Bataan held out until April 9, 1942 when they were forced to surrender. The men on Bataan were made to walk more than 65 miles in sweltering heat and little or no food, water or rest. Those who faltered were beheaded or bayoneted in what has become known as the Bataan Death March. Under terrific air and artillery bombardment the island of Corregidor held out until May 6, 1942.
Today it is only fitting to remember the sacrifice of these American military men of the Army, Navy, Marines and Army Air Corps. Most of them were subsequently held as POWs for three and a half years under the most brutal conditions. The majority of the men were taken to Japan and used as slave labor in mines, smelters, and factories. With every day that passes, there are fewer of these American heroes among us. The men who endured these atrocities are now in their late eighties and nineties and it is appropriate to take time to remember and express our gratitude for the sacrifices that they made as young men.
Remember Bataan and Corregidor….. April 9, 1942 and May 6, 1942.
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