Hometown Heroes of Bataan

News Talk Radio 530, KMJ (580 AM/105.9 FM) out of Fresno, California, has a fantastic weekly veterans radio show, called Hometown Heroes. The show honors our World War II veterans for their service and sacrifice, as it make sure their stories are not forgotten and preserved to share with current and future generations.

http://www.hometownheroesradio.com/

Hometown Heroes airs Saturdays, 6 pm – 7 pm, according to the current schedule. Be aware this time could move around periodically, either earlier in the day or even on a Sunday, depending on station programming.

Mr. Paul Loeffler is the host of Hometown Heroes, a weekly radio show honoring the men and women whose service and sacrifice have secured our freedom.  You’ll hear him say frequently on the program:  “No matter where you’re from in this great country of ours, no matter how big, or how small your hometown might be, there are heroes around you.”  (Courtesy KMJ Radio Fresno)

Mr. Paul Loeffler is the host of Hometown Heroes, a weekly radio show honoring the men and women whose service and sacrifice have secured our freedom. You’ll hear him say frequently on the program: “No matter where you’re from in this great country of ours, no matter how big, or how small your hometown might be, there are heroes around you.” (Courtesy KMJ Radio Fresno)

KMJ radio’s Hometown Heroes Host Mr. Paul Loeffler does a superb job interviewing a World War II veteran each week and the great part is that the veterans do most of the talking. Mr. Loeffler has accomplished many interviews already, as you will see on episodes page for the show (see below for link). A review of the listing quickly reveals several Bataan-related veteran interviews.

Lt. Lloyd Stinson (1918–2001) in a 34th Pursuit Squadron Seversky P-35A in combat over the Philippines, 1941.  (Wikipedia)

Lt. Lloyd Stinson (1918–2001) in a 34th Pursuit Squadron Seversky P-35A in combat over the Philippines, 1941. (Wikipedia)

EPISODE #5, 11/18/2007: Bataan Death March survivor “Wild Bill” Begley of Fresno, CA (originally from Hyden, KY). (27:49 in duration, cut short by a NASCAR broadcast, unfortunately) He was assigned to the 34th Pursuit Squadron as a radio operator. On Bataan he served in an infantry capacity. At the start of the war he weighed 180 pounds, and was down to 110 by the time of the Death March. He survived three and a half years of brutal captivity and by the end of the way was down to only 68 pounds.

US Army aircraft sound locator apparatus and searchlight, 1932. Before radar was developed in World War 2, acoustic horns like this were used to detect the sound of approaching enemy aircraft at a distance. Stereo horns, one attached to each ear, allowed the observer to judge the direction of the aircraft. The horns were used in pairs; the horizontal pair to determine direction and the vertical pair to determine elevation.  (US Army via Wikipedia)

US Army aircraft sound locator apparatus and searchlight, 1932. Before radar was developed in World War 2, acoustic horns like this were used to detect the sound of approaching enemy aircraft at a distance. Stereo horns, one attached to each ear, allowed the observer to judge the direction of the aircraft. The horns were used in pairs; the horizontal pair to determine direction and the vertical pair to determine elevation. (US Army via Wikipedia)

EPISODE #114, 5/15/2010: Bataan Death March survivor Julio Barela Las Cruces, New Mexico, remembers the horrors of his years in captivity during World War II, and his daughter’s perspective on what happened to her father. He was assigned to Battery A of the 200th Coast Artillery with a searchlight crew. He was one of only 800 of 1,800 men of his unit who survived Bataan, the Death march and the rest of captivity including the “Hell ships” and captivity in Japan, to come back from the war. (36:42 in duration)

In this interview there is mention of the Bataan Death March Memorial at Las Cruces, New Mexico, which is the only federally funded monument dedicated to the victims of the Bataan Death March. The monument was dedicated in April 2001.

Statue of Bataan Death March walkers, located at Veterans Memorial Park, Las Cruces, N.M. This monument, the first nationally-funded shrine to the Death March, was dedicated in April 2002, and displays actual footprints of Bataan survivors. Photo by Linda Douglass, IMCOM.  (Nationalguard.mil)

Statue of Bataan Death March walkers, located at Veterans Memorial Park, Las Cruces, NM.  Left to right, a Filipino soldier looks over his shoulder to see if any danger is approaching them from the rear.  The American soldier being carried in the middle is downtrodden and grateful to be alive, though at times almost wishing he wasn’t.  The soldier on the right with the WW I-helmet with eyes of steel is looking down the road watching for guards and any impending danger.  (Photo by Linda Douglass, IMCOM, via Nationalguard.mil)

A very poignant element of this memorial is the trail in front of the men in the monument. On it are the footprints, some in boots, some in bare feet, of actual Bataan Death March survivors.

The Bataan Death March Memorial at Las Cruces, New Mexico is the only federally funded monument dedicated to the victims of the Bataan Death March. The monument was dedicated in April 2001. The memorial embodies the values of gallantry, sacrifice, and heroism.  The footprints by boots and bare feet were made by actual Bataan Death March survivors.  (Courtesy mllora.com)

The Bataan Death March Memorial at Las Cruces, New Mexico is the only federally funded monument dedicated to the victims of the Bataan Death March. The monument was dedicated in April 2001. The memorial embodies the values of gallantry, sacrifice, and heroism. The footprints by boots and bare feet were made by actual Bataan Death March survivors. (Courtesy mllora.com)

This web log writer was pleasantly surprised to discover the interview of a Philippine Army soldier who served in the Bataan Campaign. It’s perhaps uncommon, and unclear how many interviews of Filipino veterans of Bataan are available, but here is a good one to listen to!

Filipino artillery crew along a coastline loading a shell during a 1941 training exercise, part of the ongoing preparations for war on the eve of the war in the Pacific.  (Carl Mydans, LIFE)

Filipino artillery crew along a coastline loading a shell during a 1941 training exercise, part of the ongoing preparations for war on the eve of the war in the Pacific. (Carl Mydans, LIFE)

EPISODE #336, 10/11/2014: 93-year-old Atilano “Al” David of Albuquerque, New Mexico, explains how he escaped from the Bataan Death March. A Filipino soldier who served as a sergeant in the 33rd Infantry Regiment of the 31st Infantry Division (Philippine Army). On the Death March he was too sick to continue and after a day or so his comrades helped him to escape by pushing him into bushes along the roadside – he was then helped by a family named De La Cruz who sheltered him a few days before he made his escape to join the guerrilla forces. (51:31 in duration)


There are other Hometown Hero interview episodes to listen to. One is of a US Navy veteran who served on the light carrier USS Bataan (CVL-29). He was a radio technician and Petty Officer Third Class when he was initially assigned to Bataan.

A Japanese Yokosuka D4Y Suisei (Allied reporting name "Judy") crashes close to the U.S. Navy light aircraft carrier USS Bataan (CVL-29) on 20 March 1945.  (US Navy via Wikipedia)

A Japanese Yokosuka D4Y Suisei (Allied reporting name “Judy”) crashes close to the U.S. Navy light aircraft carrier USS Bataan (CVL-29) on 20 March 1945. (US Navy via Wikipedia)

EPISODE #226, 8/18/2012: 87-year-old Alan George of Visalia, CA relates how he earned a Purple Heart in the Battle of Okinawa aboard the USS Bataan when he was wounded after his ship was struck by four 5-inch shells on the port side which were fired from other ships in the formation trying to hit the kamikazes attacking the formation – eight men were killed and 26, including George were wounded. It was a reminder that friendly fire isn’t, but stoically accepted in a very chaotic battle situation. (52:31 in duration)


To view other KMJ Hometown Heroes veteran interviews, see the episodes listing at:
Source: http://www.hometownheroesradio.com/episodes/

So a hand salute and heartfelt thank you to KMJ Radio and Hometown Heroes host Paul Loeffler for this excellent program! Keep up the good work which helps share and preserve our incredible military heritage!
References

The Bataan Death March Memorial at Las Cruces, New Mexico, information and images, at: http://www.mllora.com/bataan_virtual_tour/bataan_3.htm

Student volunteers join to clean Bataan March monument, at: http://archive.lcsun-news.com/las_cruces-news/ci_25351956/student-volunteers-join-clean-march-monument
Images

Paul Loeffler, at: http://www.kmjnow.com/2015/02/02/hometown-heroes-with-paul-loeffler/

34th Pursuit Squadron P-35, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/34th_Pursuit_Squadron
Searchlight unit, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Army_Coast_Artillery_Corps

Coastal Artillery searchlight, at:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Army_Coast_Artillery_Corps

Close view of Bataan Memorial in Las Cruces, NM, at: http://www.nationalguard.mil/AbouttheGuard/TodayinGuardHistory/April.aspx

Bataan Memorial in Las Cruces, NM, at: http://www.nationalguard.mil/AbouttheGuard/TodayinGuardHistory/April.aspx

Philippine Army gun crew, at: http://www.gstatic.com/hostedimg/8a018b9687d6d63e_landing

CVL-29 under attack, at: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:USS_Bataan_%28CVL-29%29_under_attack_in_March_1945.jpg

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One thought on “Hometown Heroes of Bataan

  1. Thanks for the kind words. It has been an honor to meet Bataan survivors across our country. Their stories are amazing, and it’s a privilege to share a few of them with the listening audience on all our Hometown Heroes radio affiliates and online.

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