Bataan Death March: Survivors, stories and the aftermath.
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Survivors of Bataan's Death March are almost gone
Joe Lajzer is far into a long life and his memory isn't what it was, but he will never forget the Bataan Death March or life as a POW: "I had a pet at the prison camp, but they ate him." Caroline Burkhart, vice president of the Descendants Group of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, said 200 or so survivors of those battles might be alive. "If a Filipino or somebody tried to slip some water to one of the POWs, the Japanese would either bayonet them or just with their swords cut off their heads, behead them, or shoot them," said Joe Alexander, a San Antonio native who lied about his age to join the Army. He was a POW at 15.
Consigned to Death Six Times: Surviving Bataan, the Death March and Life as a POW by Eugene Bleil
Eugene Bleil spent 10 years writing his WWII memories: his capture by the Japanese, near-starvation in a POW camp, surviving the Bataan Death March, serving as slave labor in Japan. Bleil signed up for the Army Air Corps in 1939 where he trained as an aircraft mechanic. He was posted to Nichols Field near Manila, in the Philippines, in 1940. A year later, the Japanese attacked the U.S. base in Pearl Harbor, and Japanese planes also attacked Nichols Field, driving U.S. troops onto the Bataan Peninsula. By New Year's Day, Bleil and other aircraft mechanics had been dubbed "provisional infantry" and fought to control the Peninsula through the early months of 1942.
World War II veteran Glenn Frazier recalls Bataan Death March
After the Second World War was over, battles still raged inside retired Army Colonel Glenn Frazier, a survivor of the Bataan Death March. He had "nightmares about nightmares" and was consumed with hatred toward the Japanese. "They were killing us for trying to get water. If you fell down, you were shot. If you reached over and helped a buddy, both of you were killed... I saw all kinds of atrocities. At the end of it ... I couldn't do anything but drag my feet."
Bataan death march survivor Charlie James: the march was horrendous, but living in the POW camp was worse
Charlie F. James, a WWII Bataan Death March survivor, has passed away at the age of 89. James, who served in the 200th Coast Artillery, recalled the wartime events just two years ago:
"We were at Fort Bliss from January through September and then we were sent to the Philippines. We continued to train there, but we were really not equipped for an invasion by the Japanese. We didn't surrender. We were surrendered. The march to the prison camp was horrendous, but living in the camp was worse. The camp was a terrible place. That's where people really started dying."
Arnold Bocksel, a Bataan death march survivor, was thought to be one of the oldest surviving WWII POWs
Arnold Bocksel, a World War Two veteran who survived the Bataan death march and more than 3 years as a Japanese POW, has passed away at 97. He learned Japanese in the POW camp and his postwar job took advantage of that, sending him to Japan. When people there wondered how he had learned the language, he used to answer: "I was a guest of the emperor for 3-1/2 years." Bocksel, who was one of the oldest WWII POWs, later wrote a book about his war experience called "Rice, Men and Barbed Wire."
Record crowd turns out for the 20th Annual Bataan Memorial March
A record number of people took part in the 20th Annual Bataan Memorial March at White Sands Missile Range. 5,300 contestants came from all 50 states and at least 8 countries, including civilians and members from all military branches. The memorial march is largely a military event, but a growing number of civilians come every year, many to honor a veteran of Bataan or other wars. The memorial march is now the largest competitive military event of its kind, and has only grown in size since a small group of New Mexico State University ROTC cadets put on the first march in 1989.
Bataan Death March survivor Jack Brady dies aged 87
At age 21 Jack Brady became a PoW in the Philippines and pulled through the Bataan Death March, walking 60 miles in 6 days without food or water. He had a narrow escape during the Death March when he saw a well and ran for the water. A Japanese soldier hit him with the butt of a rifle. Brady was lucky enough to return to the line. Often, the failure to obey meant death. One morning at a POW camp Brady poked the man next to him: "He didn't answer, so I looked over, and he had died during the night. So I punched the guy on the other side of me and said 'Hey, this guy over here is dead.' There wasn't any motion over there either... he had died during the night, too."
The March of All Marches: The Bataan Memorial Death March
The sun beamed down as winds whipped sand in the faces of marchers while they walked through the desert terrain of New Mexico. The Bataan Memorial Death March is an annual event that takes place at White Sands Missile Range, honoring those who fought to defend the Philippines on the Bataan peninsula. They were captured by Japanese forces during World War II, after American and Filipino forces were surrendered by their commander on April 9, 1942. This was the 19th year of the 26.2 mile march. Since its beginning in 1989, it has grown with a new record of over 4,400 participants this year.
Interview with Bataan survivor Clifford Martinez (Article no longer available from the original source)
(Q) What did you think about MacArthur when he left? (A) Very few of us thought a hell of a lot about it. We thought he should have stayed there. Of course, now I look back on it now and he did the right thing. (Q) Did you feel like you were being abandoned? (A) Yeah. Yeah. Oh hell, you better believe it. We'd sit there and think and that...depressed, oh very depressed. And the rations on Corregidor got down, they wound up eating the damn quarter master mules. And sea rations ran out. Ammo was low. And I noticed on Bataan we'd throw a hand grenade or something, the damn things would get thrown back. Old World War I stuff.
World War II Bataan Angel Jean Kennedy Schmidt dies at 88
Jean Kennedy Schmidt, one of the WWII nurses dubbed the "Angels of Bataan" who were held prisoner in the Philippines, has died at 88. After Japan attacked in 1942, 99 Army and Navy nurses in the Philippines found themselves treating casualties in open-air field hospitals on the Bataan Peninsula. When the Philippines fell, they were sent to the rocky island fortress of Corregidor. Some nurses were able to leave before Corregidor fell in May 1942. The other 77 were held in Manila for 3 years. While in the camp, they continued to treat other military and civilian prisoners. They were liberated in 1945 when a U.S. tank crashed through the gates.