Sunday, April 22, 2012
Commemoration April 24&25
70th Anniversary of the Defense the Philippines, Bataan Death March and the Fall of Corregidor to be Held in Washington
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 9th 2012, Washington, DC – Commemorative events will be held in Washington, DC April 24-25 to remember the heroic American defense of the Philippines against Imperial Japan in the early months of World War II. Survivors from the Bataan Death March and the battle of Corregidor will attend.
The 70th Anniversary of the infamous Bataan Death March is today, April 9th, and the surrender of Corregidor marking the fall of the Philippines is May 6th.
The veterans from the Battle of the Philippines coming to Washington include past national commanders of the now-disbanded American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor (ADBC) who traveled to Japan in 2010 and 2011 to receive an official apology from the Government of Japan for their maltreatment and to visit their former POW camps. The death rate and incidence of post-traumatic stress for American POWs of Japan was the greatest of any American conflict.
Participating is Bataan Death March survivor Dr. Lester Tenney of California, the last national commander of the ADBC and instrumental in persuading the Government of Japan to offer American former POWs an apology and a program to visit Japan. He is the founder of Care Packages from Home for soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Also participating is Death March survivor Mr. Ben Steele of Montana who has chronicled the horrors of the Death March and Japan’s POW camps through his award-winning paintings and drawings. Mr. Donald Versaw of California is the last of the “China Marines” (4th Marine Regiment who were stationed in Shanghai, China) who fought on Corregidor. Mr. Rolwand Towery of Texas, who fought in the battle for Corregidor, is a Pulitzer prize winner. Mr. Joe Alexander of Texas at 14 was the youngest member of the Army Air Corps on Bataan and became a POW of Japan at 15.
Dr. Lester Tenney, 92, San Diego, CA. Bataan Death March, Illinois National Guard, Company B, 192nd Tank Battalion from Maywood Illinois
Mr. Joseph Alexander, 85, San Antonio, TX. Bombing of Clark Field, Army Air Corps 440th Ordnance Aviation Bombardment Squadron
Mr. Donald Versaw, 91, Lakewood, CA, Corregidor, 4th Marines Band (China Marines), 2nd Battalion E Company
Mr. Ben Steele, 94, Billings, MT, Bataan Death March, Army Air Corps, 7th Material Squadron, 19th Bomb Group
Mr. Roland Towery, 89, Austin, TX, Corregidor, Army, Battery C, 60th Coast Artillery
Special Guest: Ms. Kinue Tokudome, Kagoshima, Japan. Founder of the US-Japan Dialogue on POWs, who accompanied the POWs on their return to their POW camps.
The schedule of events includes a wreath laying at the World War II Memorial, a roundtable discussion on the legacy of the Bataan Death March hosted by Congressman Brian Bilbray (R-CA) and Mike Honda (D-CA), a luncheon hosted by the Disabled American Veterans association and The Heritage Foundation with today’s Wounded Warriors, a dinner hosted by the VFW, and a reception hosted by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). There will also be meetings with Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific Kurt Campbell.
According to Mindy Kotler of Asia Policy Point, a Washington research center, the Commemoration “will be unique and likely last opportunity to honor these heroes.” These men “made history during World War II by participating in the defense of the Philippines as well as recently by accepting one of the very few official, specific Japanese government apologies for its wartime atrocities.” These veterans now hope that the Japanese companies that used them as slave labor while they were POWs will follow the example of their government.