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


April 9th 2012, Washington, DCCommemorative 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.

Veterans attending:

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.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Unfinished business for Bataan survivors

Seventy years have passed since Gen. Edward King, commander of all U.S. armed forces on Bataan, announced to his men, “We have no further means of organized resistance, we are low on ammunition, have virtually no medical supplies, and our food is all but gone. With our front lines nearly destroyed and both flanks severely weakened, the situation is hopeless. If I do not surrender all forces to the Japanese today, Bataan will be known around the world as the greatest slaughter in history.”

Monday, April 09, 2012

National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary

Presidential Proclamation National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day, 2012

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For more than 200 years, members of our Armed Forces have upheld an oath to protect and defend. In times of war, generations have answered our country's call with courage and valor, braving the peril of combat and pressing onward in the face of tremendous adversity. Their extraordinary service reflects our highest ideals, and their sacrifice will forever live on in our national memory. On National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day, we pay solemn tribute to those patriots who gave their freedom to preserve our own.

Thousands of America's sons and daughters have suffered unspeakably as captives in foreign lands. Many prisoners of war experienced physical torture and profound anguish, subjected to inhumane treatment and cut off from their comrades, their country, and their loved ones. Some would never return. Yet, in the direst circumstances, these service members demonstrated indomitable courage and unbreakable resolve. They stood fast for what they believed in, making immeasurable sacrifices for the millions they protected. At home, spouses, children, parents, and friends called upon that same spirit of perseverance to sustain them through long periods of prayer and uncertainty.

When he chronicled the experiences of our GIs during World War II, Ernie Pyle wrote that their world can never be known to the rest of us. Though the sacrifices they made and the burdens they bore may defy our full understanding, it is our moral obligation to keep faith with our men and women in uniform, our veterans, and their families -- to honor their service through the support of a grateful Nation. Today, we recognize heroes who endured one of war's most tragic costs. For them, and for all who have served, let us rededicate ourselves to fulfilling the sacred trust we share with all those who have worn the uniform of the United States of America.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 9, 2012, as National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day. I call upon all Americans to observe this day of remembrance by honoring all American prisoners of war, our service members, and our veterans. I also call upon Federal, State, and local government officials and organizations to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this ninth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.