February 14 is just a day!

In this 80th year since the Bataan Campaign, we remember the Fil-Am forces that fought for freedom in a desperate time.  Although inadequately equipped, our gallant troops had a weapon available to all humanity, humor, with which to fight the fight, as will be seen in the soldier’s poem below. 

The following post was originally made on the 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 194th Armor page in Facebook on 18 February 2017.  It was subsequently carried over on The Battle of Bataan page in Facebook by Joshua Simer on 18 February 2022.  Maybe the unattributed poem was found in the command post 80 years ago this very day?

Soldiers on Bataan listening to a radio broadcast

1st Combined Arms Battalion, 194th Armor

February 18, 2017 


18 Feb, 1942.

A belated Valentine’s Day message.  This one comes from an un-named 194th Tank Battalion Soldier who scrawled this little poem on a piece of paper that CPT Spoor later found in the Battalion Command Post:

  While the bombers soar above

  Come and be my jungle love

  Here, beneath the absent moon,

  We’ll enjoy a flashlight spoon

  Safe?  From burst of bomb or shell?

  Be my Val – oh, what the hell!

  You’re 10,000 miles away

  Feb. fourteenth is just a day!

Comment in Bataan group by Ronald H. Mandell:  “By the way. You will note the word “spoon” in the poem above. This word was still used to refer to courtship then.”

Comment in Bataan group by Duane Spyer:  “The man on the left with the Garand is Major Duke Fullerton.”

First Blood for RON 3

On this 80th anniversary of Imperial Japan’s assault across the Pacific, and against the Philippines in particular for this web log, it is worth examining the combat actions which took place.  And to think that things we thought we knew, might be open to a reinterpretation, based on a second look at a given event and/or the introduction of new information about it.  Such may be the case when it comes to the first combat actions by PT boats based in the Philippines at the start of the War in the Pacific. (Note:  The very first combat action involving US Navy PT Boats in World War II took place at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941)

Schematic PT-41 (USNI.org)

The motor torpedo boats (PT Boats) of MTB Squadron Three (RON 3, abbreviated) arrived in the Philippines on October 5, 1941 as deck cargo aboard the fleet oiler USS Guadalupe (AO-32), just two months before the outbreak of war.  War began in the Far East on December 8, 1941, as it was a day ahead over the International Date Line as compared to Hawaii when Japan struck there on December 7. 

US Navy oiler USS Guadalupe (AO-32) carried the six boats of MTB Squadron 3 to the Philippines as deck cargo, in late-1941. (Navsource)

Wednesday, December 10, 1941 (Tuesday, December 9 in the US) was the day war came in earnest to the Manila Bay area, when Imperial Japanese Navy bomber and fighter aircraft attacked Nichols Field, shipping in the harbor and Cavite naval base.  Both Nichols and Cavite were hit hard.

In that action, the boats of RON 3 got their first licks of the war in against the enemy.  When the attack began, the Japanese G4M and G3M bombers hit their targets from 20,000 feet, above the effective range of the defending 3-inch anti-aircraft guns available in the area.

See previous post, “Bataan Units with the 3-inch anti-aircraft gun,” at:  https://bataancampaign.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/bataan-units-with-the-3-inch-anti-aircraft-gun/

And “Anti-Aircraft Artillery on Bataan – the 3-inch Gun M3,” posted at:

So, the six PT boats of RON3,  PT’s 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, and 41, deployed out in Manila Bay, helpless to do anything against the high-flying bombers given the limited reach of their .50-caliber, .30-caliber and small arms on the boats.  But with the bombers taking care of their business without significant impediment, the 54-plane A6M2 Zero fighter escort of the Tainan Kokutai (Tainan Air Group) had little to do other than brush aside some meagre P-40 fighter opposition and then look for targets of opportunity to strafe.

In the book, At Close Quarters: PT Boats in the United States Navy” by famed PT commander John Bulkley, it describes the situation that day on page 5 where it says the following:

“The PT’s of Squadron 3, based at the Cavite Navy Yard, went into action on December 10, when the Japanese made their first heavy air attack in the Manila Bay area. The air raid warning system was working well that day, giving the boats plenty of time to get underway into Manila Bay, where they could maneuver freely. The first planes started bombing Nichols Field at 1247.2 A few minutes later a wave of some 35 started to work over shipping in Manila Bay. It was high-level bombing, 20,000 feet, well beyond the range of the PT’s .50-caliber machine-guns and the pair of-30-caliber Lewis guns which the Squadron 3 boats had installed in single mounts on the forward deck. Then five bombers peeled off deliberately and started to dive on the PT’s. Theoretically, it was possible for a PT to wait until a diving plane reached its release point, and then, by putting the wheel hard over, to avoid the bomb. The boats proved the theory — not a bomb came close. Besides, PT 31 claimed to have shot down two planes and PT 35 one.”

Source:  https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/CloseQuarters/PT-1.html

PT-31 underway before the war (Navsource)

To the writer of this web log, it is hard to envision any Mitsubishi G4M or G3M Rikko (land attack planes) descending over Manila Bay to try and hit PT Boats when their targets were priority military (Nichols) and naval (Cavite) installations in the Manila area.  They would have hazarded themselves at lower altitude to the anti-aircraft gun defenses in the area, such as they were.  Let alone the difficulty of trying to hit a small, fast-moving target.  And considering they had priority targets to attack, as well as much larger shipping around the bay.  It doesn’t make sense, even trying to imagine through an IJN perspective, for such bombers to do so.

Mitsubishi G3M Rikko (Land Attack Plane) (Pinterest)

Unless some other evidence would indicate otherwise, this writer is inclined to believe it was more plausible that A6M2 Zero fighters of either the Tainan Kokutai or the 3rd Kokutai who conducted this attack against the PT boats.  Both units provided escort for the Rikko making their horizontal bombing attacks, and were involved in subsequent strafing operations, much as they did at Iba and Clark fields at the outbreak of hostilities. And that Bulkley’s account is a limited, general reference to an enemy air attack, lacking the details to definitely establish what type of aircraft attacked RON 3 that day.

Mitsubishi A6M2 Type 0 (Zero) fighter of the early World war II period (Pinterest)

There might be information elsewhere to help support the proposition that the PT’s were attacked by Zero fighters.  It could be in the combat log of the Tainan or 3rd Kokutai which could confirm the loss of any A6M fighters in that time period (Manila being GMT+8, compared to Japan’s GMT+9, to try and smooth out any time differences between US/Philippine and Japanese sources), given the three RON 3 claims mentioned above.  But neither the combat logs nor the requisite Japanese translation skills are available to this writer.  Perhaps someone reading this can help and see if this “history mystery” can be solved, or even if someone else has already and detailed it elsewhere (source please, naman!)

PT-34 of MTB RON 3 (naval-history.net)

In any event, it was the first combat action for the boats of RON 3, and more would soon follow in operations around the Bataan Peninsula, some 80 years ago.  Lest we forget…

“Ole Betsy” to “The Swoose” – The Saga of B-17D 40-3097

On this 80th anniversary of the start of World War II in the Pacific, we salute all the brave defenders of the Philippines.  Outnumbered, ill-equipped to cope with the Japanese juggernaut unleashed on 8 December 1941, the Fil-Am forces did.  In the immortal words of author Walter D. Edmonds, ”They fought with what they had.”  No pushover either, as the stout defense of Bataan proved over the next four months.

Although friendly forces’ airpower was inadequate, the air arm also fought bravely.  Today, there is little to show of that early Far East Air Force effort, except for one family treasure, a crown jewel of aviation history, the Boeing B-17D Flying Fortress heavy bomber first nick-named “Ole Betsy,” and later, more famously, “The Swoose.”  While defending the Philippines from Imperial Japanese aggression, she flew perhaps the first USAAF heavy bomber mission of World War II, and perhaps the first night bombing mission too.

Prewar Journey

B-17D serial number 40-3097 was the 38th out of 43 D-models to roll out of Boeing’s production line in Seattle, Washington, and was accepted by the Army from the manufacturer on April 25, 1941.  These were the last of the original “shark tail” B-17s to be manufactured before production of the “big tail” ones began with the E-model Fortress.  By mid-May, 1941, she winged her way west to Hawaii, where she was assigned to the 14th Bomb Squadron of the 11th Bomb Group. 

Schematic of a Boeing B-17C Flying Fortress, the D-model was very similar but had some differences, such as cowl flaps for the engines (Image Everythingisahoax.tumblr.com)

By September 12, 1941, wearing the 11th Bomb Group number “21” on her tail, she and the 14th Bomb Squadron arrived in the Philippines.  President Roosevelt had ordered a build-up of military forces there in hopes of creating a substantial deterrent force against Imperial Japan’s territorial and resource ambitions.  The reinforcement effort was well underway in the last few months of 1941, but would still be far from complete by the beginning of 1942.

Although Roosevelt’s gambit ultimately failed, insufficient time to deploy a force large and well-equipped enough to deter Imperial Japan before the Empire struck across the Pacific, the searing experience in the Philippines provided much to reflect on for future combat operations and aircraft development.

Prelude to War

Shortly before war began, “Ole Betsy” 40-3097 and the other seven bombers of her 14th squadron and eight B-17s of the sister 93rd Bomb Squadron were sent to Del Monte Airfield on Mindanao.  At the time she was in natural metal finish, with camouflage painting only just begun on the first B-17 at Clark Field.

The movement to Del Monte was in anticipation of the imminent arrival of B-17s of the 7th Bomb Group, as Del Monte was one of the few airfields in the islands which could operate heavy bombers at that time.  The Imperial Japanese rampage, however, ensured the 7th never made it to the Philippines.

The Japanese struck the Philippines with Army and Navy air forces on December 8, 1941, some eight hours after the attack on Hawaii.  Read about this robust aerial assault in “The Japanese Juggernaut Unleashed,” posted on this web log at: 

First Mission of the War

Safe out of range of Japanese attackers that day, some 600 miles south of Clark Field, “Ole Betsy” and her cohorts soon entered the fray.  On that unfortunate 8th of December day, 40-3097 reportedly embarked on a combat mission flown by pilot Lt. Godman, an aerial reconnaissance, perhaps the first American combat mission by heavy bombers in World War II.  A combat mission is mentioned in several internet sources, but detail is lacking; one source, the most excellent timeline of history for B-17D 40-3097 by Wayne E. Moyer and Geoff Hays (at link below) indicates it was a reconnaissance mission flown by a Lt. Godman.

And 40-3097 reportedly flew the next day on a mission to bomb Japanese naval vessels off Vigan at the northern end of Luzon.  She was part of a three-ship formation led by the famed Capt Colin Kelly, during which Kelly was unfortunately shot down by Zero fighters.

Tainan Kokutai Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero fighters depicted here in flight, were the bane of Allied air forces in the Pacific in the early part of World War II (Source:

Night bombing

“Ole Betsy” inadvertently became the first nocturnal raider of the USAAF when on a mission to bomb the Japanese invasion convoy in Lingayen Gulf later in December.  The aircraft experienced engine difficulty soon after takeoff.  Rather than completely abort a combat mission, the pilot proceeded to an alternate target at Davao, Mindanao, and thus reluctantly became the first American night bombing mission of the war.

After the Philippines

Then the time came for the surviving Fortresses to evacuate to Australia, as Imperial Japanese forces gained traction in the Philippines and the B-17s based at Del Monte became more vulnerable.  At the end of the month “Ole Betsy” flew to (or was it to Australia first and then to?) the Netherlands East Indies (NEI), to Singosari Airfield on Java.  From there they continued the fight against the marauding Imperial Japanese forces, now beginning to press against the NEI and threatening to cut off the sea and air lines of communication between the Philippines and Australia, where American forces were arriving.

Her Last combat mission as a heavy bomber was flown on January 11, 1942, a strike against the enemy landings at Tarakan, Borneo, in the NEI.  She got into a running battle with three A6M fighters covering the landings, and “Ole Betsy” was damaged, though she claimed two of her attackers.  Mr. Michael Claringbould, military aviation author at Avonmore Books in Australia, subject matter expert and outstanding researcher on the air war in the South Pacific, found confirmation of one loss in a trio of Tainan Kokutai fighters that day, an A6M2 flown by Kobayashi Shu’uji. 

Excerpt from Tainan Kokutai combat log for Jan 11, 1942. (via Michael Claringbould)

Relegated to Secondary Role

In Late January “Ole Betsy” flew to the aircraft depot at Laverton, near Melbourne, Australia.  There she received a new tail assembly, or perhaps at least part of a tail assembly (e.g., control surfaces) courtesy of B -17D 40-3091, to replace her damaged empennage.  It was after this that 19th Bomb Group Captain Weldon Smith dubbed her “The Swoose” which was inspired by the popular song, “Alexander the Swoose” written by Franklin Furlett, and performed by big band leader Kay Kyser, song at:

After repairs and nick-naming, the caricature of a Swoose was painted abaft the aircraft’s rear fuselage door along with the encouraging words “It Flys” (sic).  The newly-christened ship did not return to frontline combat service, leaving that to the newer B-17Es that had arrived in theater since the war began.  But “The Swoose” was operationally employed, conducting navigation lead missions for fighters deploying long distances in and around Australia and also some anti-submarine patrols.  By March, 1942 she was withdrawn from these operational duties, adjudged to be weary of the war and not in great materiel condition.

“The Swoose” some where in the SWPA, appears to be ion camouflage scheme used in early service as a VIP transport, with green over black camouflage paint. Trees look Australian. (Source: Life Member-Doug T NSW, on exploroz.com/forum)

Personal Transport for General Brett

Still, among other options available, ”The Swoose” was in good enough condition to be selected as the personal transport aircraft for Lieutenant General George Brett, MacArthur’s air commander, to be flown by former 19BG pilot Captain Frank Kurtz.  In August, 1942, Brett was relieved from his duties by MacArthur, with whom he had a strained relationship, politely put. 

“The Swoose” took Brett back to the States and then on to the Caribbean Defense Command as his personal fast transport; 40-3097 underwent a significant rebuild in 1944 including replacement of a couple of cracked wing spars, and remained Brett’s personal transport until his retirement in December, 1945, when the general himself flew her from Los Angeles to Kirtland Field, New Mexico for disposal.  It’s worth noting that “The Swoose” flew for the duration of the war, perhaps as few aircraft could claim.

“The Swoose in silver again, probably after 1944 overhaul. (Source: postimg.cc)

Postwar Fate

But thanks to Colonel Frank Kurtz, who persuaded the City of Los Angeles to save “The Swoose” for a war memorial, the aircraft was spared.  Colonel Kurtz flew her to Los Angeles on April 6, 1946 on her last military operational flight, thus dodging the smelter which consumed most of the remaining B-17s after the war.

“The Swoose” rests at a Los Angeles airport postwar, sporting the flags of all the countries she had visited, and early WWII national insignia, waiting for space in the city allocated for display of a World War II memorial. (Source: justacarguy.blogspot.com)

After three years of waiting for a place to be displayed, “The Swoose” was donated to the National Air Museum in Washington DC and in March, 1949, flew to Park Ridge, Illinois for temporary storage.  “The Swoose” flew again to Pyote, Texas for long-term storage, before her final flight to Andrews AFB, Maryland on December 5, 1943, arriving with three ailing engines.  She was one weary warbird!

Long story short, in July, 2008 “The Swoose” was transferred from the Smithsonian to the NMUSAF, where it underwent some restoration work, e.g., the fabrication of a replacement ventral gun position *(the lower fuselage “bathtub” removed in the transport era).  However, by 2019 this had stopped as resources were focused on restoration of the more famous “Memphis Belle.”

Boeing B-17D Flying Fortress “The Swoose,” disassembled, in storage, awaiting restoration at the National Museum of the US Air Force (NMUSAF) at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH. (Source: Everipedia)

“The Swoose” at 80

Today, 40-3097 resides disassembled but safely in covered storage at the National Museum of the US Air Force, at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio.  According to the museum public affairs office in response to a status requested submitted by this author last week, restoration work will resume in 2022 or 2023 after significant delay due to the focus on restoration of the more famous B-17F “Memphis Belle” now on display ion the museum. 

Although there was some controversy over whether “The Swoose” should be retained in her transport configuration, versus her prewar or early war combat configurations, it appears by restoration work accomplished so far it will be returned to its bomber configuration. 

In any event, it will be quite the day when this B-17D’s restoration is complete and 40-3097 is put on display at the museum.  She’s perhaps the largest artifact above ground of that fateful day in December, 1941, back when the war in the Pacific broke out all across its vast expanse.


NMUSAF webpage on Boeing B-17D “The Swoose” at: https://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Visit/Museum-Exhibits/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/196864/boeing-b-17d-the-swoose/

Pacific Wrecks entry for “The Swoose:” https://pacificwrecks.com/aircraft/b-17/40-3097.html

Wikipedia entry for :”The Swoose” at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Swoose


Army Air Corps’ Last Stand in the Philippines, by R. R. Slater, at:  http://www.lanbob.com/lanbob/H-19BG-extra/H-His/PI-AAC.htm

Avonmore Books, at:  https://avonmorebooks.com.au/

Timeline of the history of B-17D 40-3097, “The Swoose,” by Wayne E. Moyer and Geoff Hays, at:  https://forum.ipmsusa3.org/topic/13862-timeline-of-the-history-of-b-17d-40-3097-the-swoose/

Wikipedia page for George Brett, at:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Brett_(general)

Sunday History Photo Quiz, (source: Exploroz.com), at: https://www.exploroz.com/forum/110360/sunday-history-photo–qld

Remembering Bataan on Memorial Day 2020

On this Monday, May 26, 2020 we remember those in uniform who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the people of the United States of America.  Not to be confused with Armed Forces Day (to honor those serving currently) or Veterans Day (to honor those who served), Memorial Day is a solemn occasion to remember those fallen in service to the nation.  “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).


This handful of Philippine Scouts had just defeated a Japanese landing party when the picture was made on the Philippines’ Bataan Peninsula during the January – April 1942 campaign.  (Library of Congress via Naval History and Heritage Command)

A presidential proclamation has been released as we honor our fallen, taking note that 2020 marks 75 years since the end of World War II and victory over Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan that cost us more than 400,000 American service men and women to ensure: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-prayer-peace-memorial-day-2020/

It may be forgotten by some amidst long weekend barbecues and such, but there is ample reason because of our freedom to remember those who made it possible.  All one has to do is make an effort.  Some ways to remember on Memorial Day are:


  1. Remember a family member or friend who was lost in the service. Speak their name.  Share a memory about them.


  1. Look around you at your family, friends and community, and appreciate all of what they mean to you, that you are able to do that because someone else laid their life on the line to defend it.


  1. Visit a veteran’s cemetery and read the names, units and dates on the headstones. Find some for a unit you served in or a conflict you fought in.


  1. In the future, non-COVID-19 time, participate in a Memorial Day ceremony or event in your community, or create one of your own today.
  2. Pray for the fallen, their families and loved ones.


  1. Fly Old Glory in their honor.


  1. Take an active role as a citizen of the country and in your community, and express yourself to your elected representatives – perhaps too many of these are not working for the best interest of people and country but for partisan and self-interest. They are elected and even re-elected all too often.  Citizens shouldn’t be silent or indolent lest they lose what freedom and liberty we enjoy.  For freedom isn’t free, as we all should remember, on Memorial Day.


In the case of the Battling Bastards of Bataan, how does one know the true extent of the roll of honor for our fallen heroes?  The honored dead were created in successive waves, with the first being during the actual battles of the campaign from January to April, 1942, some 10,000 soldiers.


A nurse tends to casualties of the campaign in a open-air ward at one of Bataan’s field hospitals.  It may be one of the Filipina nurses who served on Bataan given her attire. (Wikipedia)

Then there were the casualties during the Death March;  One estimate for deaths ranges from 5,000 to 18,000 Filipino deaths and 500 to 650 American deaths during the march.

The initial period of captivity at Camp O’Donnell saw our men die like flies, an estimated 20,000 Filipinos and 1,500 Americans died at the camp from “…disease, starvation, neglect, and brutality…”


At the time of its release, this photo was identified as dead and wounded being carried by fellow prisoners during the Bataan Death March in April 1942 … Subsequent information from military archivists, the National Archives and Records Administration, and surviving prisoners, strongly suggests that this photo may actually depict a burial detail at Camp O’Donnell (Wikipedia)

Following the shocking O’Donnell experience, another wave of casualties occurred during captivity of Bataan veterans at the Camp Cabantuan Prisoner Camp, where up to 10,000 prisoners from Bataan and Corregidor were held before many surviving were sent elsewhere for forced labor or imprisonment.   There is no ready figure this web log writer has found for how many Bataan survivors died in captivity at Cabanatuan, but one estimate held that two of every three Bataan survivors died while the number was one of every three for Corregidor captives.  The worst month was July 1942 when 799 US prisoners died at Cabanatuan.   It wasn’t until December 15, 1942 that the Cabanatuan POW Camp had its first non-death day.  Over 2,700 POW’s died and were buried at Cabanatuan.


A rare photograph of POWs marching in formation at Cabanatuan POW Camp on January 1, 1943. (Courtesy of the MacArthur Memorial Library, Norfolk, Virginia.)

Another wave occurred among the prisoners of war who were sent out from the Philippines on Imperial Japan’s “Hell Ships” from the Philippines to other places in the Japanese Empire.  Historian Gregory F. Michno shows that by the end of the war, 134 Hell Ships altogether embarked on over 156 voyages that carried about 126,000 Allied POWs (US Commonwealth, and others) to other points in the Empire.  Of these POWs, some 1,540 deaths resulted from conditions on the Hell Ships.  More startling is that over 19,000 Allied POWs were killed in inadvertent Allied air and submarine attacks on the Hell ships, which were not marked or communicated as prison vessels to Allied forces.  How many of these 20,000+ unfortunate POW’s were Bataan survivors?

NH 95603

Aerial photo of the former U.S. Naval station, Olongapo, taken from a USS HANCOCK (CV-19) plane on 15 December 1944. Large ship is probably the S.S. ORYOKU MARU, sunk in Subic Bay by Third fleet planes on 16 December. Of the 1,600 POIWs embarked, over 1,000 were lost.  Of teh 6000 survivors shipped out on another Hell Ship to Korea, only 128 survived at war’s end.  (Naval History and Heritage Command)

Even harder to quantify perhaps is the number post-war accelerated deaths of veterans, in uniform or not, caused by their awful, debilitating wartime experience?

And one more thought to consider, how many Fil-Am soldiers, regulars, guerillas, were lost in the 1945 campaign to liberate the Bataan Peninsula? Surely these more than 300 men should be remembered as well.


“Avengers of Bataan”, 152nd Infantry Regiment, 38th Infantry Division at “Zig Zag Pass” during the Battle of Bataan, Feb 1945, by artist Rick Reeves.  (Reddit)

So, with all these numbers added up there are perhaps some 40,000 men of the forces that began the Bataan Campaign to remember who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and liberty.  (If anyone has a better estimate for Bataan Campaign total deaths, battle and captivity, kindly inform this writer and share details with a wider audience.)  They are buried far and wide across the world, overseas and in the United States, in national cemeteries and private plots.  We owe them and their families a debt of gratitude for their service and sacrifice for our land and people.  Let’s remember them on this Memorial Day.


Battle of Bataan, at:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Bataan#Aftermath

Angels of Bataan, at:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angels_of_Bataan

Bataan Death March, at:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bataan_Death_March

Camp O’Donnell, at:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camp_O%27Donnell

Camp Cabanatuan, at:  https://www.dpaa.mil/Portals/85/Documents/Reports/U.S.Casualties_Burials_Cabanatuan_POWCamp1.pdf?ver=2017-05-08-162357-013

Camp Cabanatuan documents, at:  http://www.mansell.com/pow_resources/camplists/philippines/Cabanatuan/cabanatuan_main.html

Cabanatuan POW death numbers:  http://bataanmissing.com/about-bataanmissing/

Hellships, at:  https://www.history.navy.mil/browse-by-topic/wars-conflicts-and-operations/world-war-ii/1944/oryoku-maru.html

Battle of Bataan (1945), at:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Bataan_(1945)

National Former POW Recognition Day, 2020

Here in the United States, April 9th is National Former POW Recognition Day, an annual event similar to but different from National POW/MIA Recognition Day annual observance each September.  A presidential proclamation has been issued for the day:  https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-national-former-prisoner-war-recognition-day-2020/

On this day, which takes place annually on April 9th, the anniversary of the fall of Bataan in 1942, we honor the men and women who served and sacrificed for our country.  Over 500,000 Americans have suffered as POWs in our history, and we honor and respect what they endured on behalf of our freedom and liberty.

NH 73558

American prisoners of war under guard by Japanese troops, after the surrender of Bataan, April 1942. Copied from the Japanese book: “Philippine Expeditionary Force,” published in 1943.
Courtesy of Dr. Diosdado M. Yap, Editor-Publisher, Bataan Magazine, Washington, D.C., 1971.(Naval History and Heritage Command)

This day is also commemorated in the Philippines, as the soldiers of the Commonwealth of the Philippines experienced the same fate on April 9th, 1942.  It is called “Araw ng Kagitingan” in Filipino, or Day of Valor, an official regular nationwide holiday celebrated annually on April 9th.  Although this year, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, commemorative events have been cancelled or postponed.


The Dambana ng Kagitingan, Shrine of Valor, atop Mt. Samat in Bataan honors and remembers the gallantry of Filipino and American soldiers who fought against Imperial Japanese forces in World War II. (Officeholidays.com)

Whether events are cancelled or not, on this day we remember and honor our former POWs.  May their example of service and sacrifice for the nation be a worthy example to citizens today.




A Bataan connection made

It’s a nice feeling to be able to make a connection to the Bataan Campaign and the valor of the Fil-Am forces who bravely fought there in 1942.  It can be from a visit to the campaign site, from reading about it or visiting various museums and memorials to the campaign and individuals who served and sacrificed there.

It can also come from personal connections, with family and/or friends related with a direct Bataan connection.  In this example, the distinguished veteran and former Philippine Scout Amado Ante is the uncle of a friend and colleague from back in my military service days.  When I saw this story I contacted her about it and she confirmed that it was a family member, her uncle.  What a small world it is sometimes!

Amado Ante PS 12 Qtrmaster Rgt

Amado Ante, 12th Quartermaster Regiment (PS) (Photo via VA)

By the fifth day of the grueling and deadly march, Philippine Scout Amado Ante was afflicted by malaria and feet so badly swollen he couldn’t march.  He and his comrades knew he would be killed if he did not march, so at an opportune moment they pushed him into a ditch along the way in which he then crawled beneath some bushes and kept quiet til dark.  Local civilians found him and helped him get well, which took three months, after which he joined the guerilla forces until liberation in 1945.

Fast forward to 10 November 2017 when Amado Ante at age 99 was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, highest civilian award in the United States.  An honor long overdue, nonetheless rendered, as we render a hand salute to Amado Ante for his service in World War II!


Mr. Amado Ante, after receiving the Congressional Gold Medal in November, 2017 (Via VA blog)

For the full story written by Public Affairs specialist Jeremy Profitt of the San Francisco VA Health Care System, see the VA blog site at:  https://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/43677/philippine-scout-army-veteran-shares-story-of-how-his-escape-from-bataan-death-march/

Bataan, Battle of (1942): Some Resources

For those interested in learning more about the Bataan Campaign, please see this listing of resources posted by the U.S. Army’s Aviation Center of Excellence Aviation Technical Library and Aviation Learning Center at Fort Rucker, Alabama, posted at:


with Books:




and Websites:


Bataan 75th Anniversary and National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day 2017

Today in the United States is National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day on this, the 75th anniversary of the Fall of Bataan in the Philippines, 1942.

Seventy five years ago the grim news was announced, that the Fil-Am forces resisting Imperial Japanese aggression in Bataan had fallen after an epic military campaign lasting some four months.  It was the largest single surrender of American military personnel in U.S. history.

But the service and sacrifice of those brave men and women will be an eternal inspiration for these who fight for freedom.  Their blood, tears and sweat are a painful reminder that freedom isn’t free.  For even as the military campaign on Bataan ended on 9 April 1942, the infamous Bataan Death March then began.  For those who would survive the subsequent years of brutal captivity, we owe a great debt.

In the Philippines, President Rodrigo R. Duterte presided over the commemoration up on Mt. Samat, where he said:  “Bloodied yet unbowed, men and women stood their ground to defend our motherland and the values we hold dear.” For more on the ceremony, see: http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/10/1689447/rody-disputes-must-be-settled-peacefully

In the United States, President Donald J. Trump issued a proclamation for this day, which is viewable at:


In addition, a remembrance ceremony was held in San Francisco, described at:


So on this National Former POW Recognition Day 2017, on the 75th anniversary of the fateful end of the Bataan Campaign, let us render a hand salute to those men and women who served and sacrificed as a POW for our country.  These former captives deserve our recognition and appreciation.


P.S.  Regrets to all readers for the absence of new material in recent months.  A sudden family health crisis required priority attention and still does, so updates will likely be slow for the foreseeable future.  But if you have found this web log, please do look through all the material posted already and you will surely find something else that is interesting.

Remembering the Fall of Bataan, 2016

It is April 9th, 2016, the 74th anniversary of the fall of Bataan, which was the largest surrender of US troops in history. But they did not surrender in shame, as the Fil-Am armed forces in the Philippine Islands had fought the good fight.

In the Philippines, this day is known as the Day of Valor, the Araw ng Kagitingan, and it is commemorated in various ways:  “Many parades are held involving World War II veterans in different cities. The main event is held at the Mt Samat Shrine in Pilár, Bataan where the President of the Philippines and other dignitaries give speeches honouring the country’s veterans.”

“As the day is a public holiday, most people have the day off work, with some choosing to attend the parades and festivities. Many people spend the day with family and friends at various public venues, such as parks and shopping malls, which remain open.”  (publicholidays.ph)

Araw ng Kagitingan

This year Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III is to serve as guest of honor in the annual commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan at the Mt. Samat Shrine.  This marks the sixth and last time he will addresses war veterans as the head of state.

In the United States, this day is also commemorated, in what is called National Former POW Recognition Day.  It is declared so by presidential proclamation (see reference below).  It is perhaps not as well known in America as the annual POW/MIA remembrance in September each year and maybe confused with it.  Nonetheless it offers an annual opportunity to remember all those taken captive at Bataan, as well as the other conflicts America has engaged in.

To the veterans of Bataan, to those who fell in battle, or expired on the infamous Death March, or died in miserable POW camps, or while aboard the hellships or in destitute slave labor, we render a hand salute!  And the same honor to all those who fought on Bataan and survived all that came after to return home, a hand salute!  Thank you all for your service and sacrifice for freedom!



Araw ng Kagitingan, description, at:  http://publicholidays.ph/araw-ng-kagitingan/

Anniversary of Fall of Bataan poster from Malacañan Palace page in Facebook

National Former POW Recognition Day, 2016, at:  http://www.defense.gov/News-Article-View/Article/716995/president-proclaims-national-former-prisoner-of-war-recognition-day