Bataan March

Fifty-eight years ago, on the province of Bataan in the Philippines, 25-thousand US soldiers and 50-thousand Filipino troops surrendered to the Japanese army. The troops that surrendered were already in terrible physical shape, half starved because food, supplies and reinforcements had never arrived from the US government—although it had been promised. The troops in Bataan felt abandoned. As prisoners of war, under Japanese control, they were subject to savagery — such as a death march — and the harsh conditions and cruelty of POW camps. Last spring a group of 40 of the veterans and some of their families traveled to the Philippines to visit the sites of their captivity. They retraced some of the steps of the death march — praying at a new monument to soldiers who died during that ordeal. This group of men, in their late 70s and 80s looked out over fields that were once prisoner of war camps and they remembered those who lost the will to survive and those who tortured them. The visit opened wounds and unleashed memories and for some of the men, it enabled them to talk about their experience for the first time. It also enabled family members to better understand the veterans' experiences. Writer Hampton Sides accompanied the group on this trip.



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