The Thanksgiving before Bataan

As we in the United States gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving Day, we remember with thanks the service and sacrifice of the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, and civilians too, who served during the Bataan Campaign.

thanksgiving-1941

Thanksgiving Day, 1941 – eyes on the turkey!

The closest thing the Fil-Am soldiers on Bataan had to Thanksgiving was Thanksgiving Day 1941, on Thursday, 20 November 1941. Thanksgiving was a familiar feast in the Philippines at that time, brought to the islands by American military personnel and first celebrated there on 24 November 1898.

First Thanksgiving in PI Nov 1898

First Thanksgiving in the Philippines, 24 November 1898

 

In 1935, the Commonwealth of the Philippines was established, and President Manuel Quezon continued the tradition of celebrating Thanksgiving in November. The observance continued until the war broke out.

Pres Quezon Thanksgiving 1936

Editorial cartoon on National Thanksgiving Day, 26 November 1936

But the Thanksgiving of 1941 in the Philippines was not what might be considered a typical friendly celebration. Some referred to it as “Franksgiving,” in derisive protest of President Roosevelt changing the observance from the fourth Thursday to the Third Thursday in November, ostensibly to put more days between it and Christmas in pursuit of the almighty shopping dollar.

But for most it was the clouds of war which put shadows on the celebration, as people sensed the approaching hostilities. Ben Steele, a young soldier in the 19th Bomb Group at Clark Field, had the following experience recorded: “At their Thanksgiving dinner that year, their Commanding Officer, Major Davis, told them to enjoy their dinner, since it might be a long time before they had another one like it. It turned out that he was right.”

ClarkFieldprewar

Clark Field, pre-war view

Added to that, the tremendous flow of new units, men and material into the Philippines, as America desperately tried to build up forces there before the outbreak of hostilities, swamped resources. Tents cities were being set up at various bases to try and handle the influx.

 

On the morning of Thanksgiving Day itself, two US troop ships arrived in Manila, the USS President Coolidge and USS Hugh L. Scott. They brought aboard them over 2.700 officers and men of a number of units, such as the 192nd Tank Battalion (with 55 M3 tanks), 27th Bomb Group (without aircraft), 21s t and 34th Pursuit Squadrons, etc.

Hugh L Scott AP-43

The transport USS Hugh L. Scott.  She was later sunk by a German submarine during the invasion of North Africa, November, 1942.

Troops of the 192nd Tanks Battalion traveled by train up to Fort Stotsenburg, where many were able to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal. But some of the newly arriving soldiers did not. As hundreds of troops arrived, the Thanksgiving fixings became scarce.

FortStotsenberg

Fort Stotsenburg

One of the soldiers arriving, Albert L. Allen, Jr. of Company C, 192nd Tank Battalion, remembered how he wound up eating beans for supper that night. Private Tenenberg got hot dogs, and Private Abel F. Ortega scrounged for a piece of bread with gravy on it.

The situation wasn’t much different down at Fort McKinley near Manila, where Carl Nordin of the 5th Air Base Group arrived the same day from the Scott: “The middle of the afternoon we received our Thanksgiving meal at a temporary kitchen – wieners and sauerkraut with canned peaches for dessert. Of course we felt abused because we knew that all the other troops were having turkey and all the trimmings. Little did we know how we would have welcomed such a meal a few weeks later.”

FortMcKinleylookingsouth-west

Fort William McKinley

Raymond C. Heimbuch of the Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, 5th Air Base Group, had a similar experience, arriving on the Scott that morning he observed “As we proceeded to go topside, we passed by the galley. We could see the cooks preparing the noon meal. It was an extravaganza of turkeys, yams, pumpkin pies, and various types of fresh fruit.”

Heimbuch wondered what he would receive for dinner at Fort McKinley and soon found out. “It had been several hours since3 breakfast, and we were getting hungry when the chow bell finally rang. We rushed up to where the mess tent was, expecting some kind of Thanksgiving dinner. Instead, what I got was a slice of bread and some sauerkraut and wieners. Some of the men got beans and wieners. Nobody got turkey or any of the goodies usually associated with Thanksgiving Day. Fortunately, I did not know that this would be the best Thanksgiving dinner I would have until 1945!”

Some of the newly arriving troops were lucky enough to partake in the shipboard meal as it took a while for all the units, personnel and equipment, to disembark and offload. Over on the USS President Coolidge, John H. Poncio of the planeless 27th Bomb Group remembered “We arrived in Manila on Thanksgiving Day and had turkey and all the trimmings on board the ship.” It seemed the Thanksgiving meal blessings fell hither and yonder.

Thanksgiving resumed celebration in the Philippines beginning in November, 1944, proclaimed by President Osmena. It continued to 1965 but then ran afoul of politics during the Marcos regime. In fact, in 1972, he established martial law and moved Thanksgiving to 21 September 1972, on the same day! This conflation left a bad feeling with many people, and when Marcos was deposed in 1986, Thanksgiving went away with martial law and hasn’t returned since.

For a contemporary Filipino view of Thanksgiving, see a short article by Butch Francisco, “Turkey, Thursday and Thanksgiving” at: http://www.philstar.com:8080/entertainment/632850/turkey-thursday-thanksgiving

So when you sit down with family and/or friends for your Thanksgiving meal, remember a prayer in thanks to the Fil-Am patriots of Bataan, and all the Filipino and American patriots who serve to defend the freedom of our nations.
References

“Thanksgiving in the Philippines,” Republic of the Philippines, Presidential Museum and Library website, at: http://malacanang.gov.ph/74644-thanksgiving-in-the-philippines/

Franksgiving, Wklipeia article, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franksgiving

“Ben Steele’s Personal Chronicle, from Bataan to Hiroshima,” at: http://www.artmontana.com/article/steele/

Williford, Glen, Racing the Sunrise: Reinforcing America’s Pacific Outposts, 1941-1942, US Naval Institute Press, 2010, Chapter 6

Engineers of the Southwest Pacific, 1941-45, Volume 1, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1947, page 3

Nordin, Carl S., We Were Next to Nothing: An American POW’s Account of Japanese Prison Camps and Deliverance in World War II, McFarland & Co., 2004, pages 17-18

Heimbuch, Raymond C., 5 Brothers in Arms, Xlibris, 2008, page 33

Poncio, John Henry, and Young, Marlin, Girocho: A GI’s Story of Bataan and Beyond, LSU Press, 2003, page 11

“Buttered Fresh Frozen Lima Beans: Commemorative Holiday Menus in the Veterans History Project,” at: http://blogs.loc.gov/folklife/2013/12/buttered-fresh-frozen-lima-beans-commemorative-holiday-menus-in-the-veterans-history-project/

Albert L. Allen, Jr., Veterans History Project interview, at: http://memory.loc.gov/diglib/vhp-stories/loc.natlib.afc2001001.05549/

Salecker, Gene E., Rolling Thunder Against The Rising Sun: The Combat History of US Army Tank Battalions in the Pacific in World War II, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 2008
Pictures not from sources above

Thanksgiving 1941 magazine cover, at: https://iamachild.wordpress.com/2013/10/25/

Clark Field, at: http://www.edwinpriceramsey.com/26th_cavalry.php

USS Hugh L. Scott, at: http://www.navsource.org/archives/09/22/22043.htm

Fort McKinley, at: http://corregidor.proboards.com/thread/1260/fort-bonifacio-tunnel

Fort Stotsenburg, at: http://www.edwinpriceramsey.com/26th_cavalry.php

And another thing on that Congressional Gold Medal initiative…

It happens to be that besides the U.S. Senate’s S.1555 (described below in posting “For Their Service” of 16 November 2015), the U.S. House of Representatives also has an identical version of this bill in committee, which is designated as House Resolution (H.R.) 2737 – Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015. You can view it at: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/2737/related-bills

The H.R. was sponsored by Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI). Action this far is described as follows: “06/11/2015 Referred to the Committee on Financial Services, and in addition to the Committee on House Administration, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.”

The resolution has so far gathered 39 co-sponsors from members of the House. More are welcome, so please review the list and see if your representative is, or isn’t, a co-sponsor, at: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/2737/cosponsors

If you wish to contact your representative and ask them to support this legislation, you can get in touch with him or her by phone, letter or email. And if you don’t know who that person is, check here to find your Rep: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

And the same goes for your senators, contact info for whom you can find at: http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

Please support this effort if you are interested at all! Given that there is a new Speaker of the House, it is time for a push on this in the House while the 2015-2016 114th Congress is still in session. Our Congressional representatives often only respond to such matters when they get an earful and other encouragements from citizens!

For Their Service

The storm clouds of conflict presaging war in the Pacific gathered in the summer of 1941. On 26 July President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8832, which directed the seizure of all Japanese assets in the United States in response to Imperial Japan’s occupation of French Indo-China.

US President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs a document.  (Courtesy the frontblog.wordpress.com)

US President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs a document. (Courtesy the frontblog.wordpress.com)

Coincident with that action, President Roosevelt exercised his executive authority and ordered Philippine Commonwealth soldiers into the service of the United States Government as well as ordering Douglas MacArthur back to active duty:

“Under and by virtue of the authority vested in me … as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, I hereby call and order into the service of the armed forces of the United States for the period of the existing emergency… all of the organized military forces of the Government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines.”

PHILIPPINES - 1941:  American and Filipino preparations and training just prior to war with Japan.  (Photo by Carl Mydans / LIFE)

PHILIPPINES – 1941: American and Filipino preparations and training just prior to war with Japan. (Photo by Carl Mydans / LIFE, bvia Pinoyhistory.proboards.com )

In the 1942 Bataan Campaign the majority of the troops resisting Imperial Japanese Army forces were Filipino. The brave stand of the Fil-Am forces on Bataan became symbolic of the United Nations determination to resist Militarism, Fascism and Nazism around the world. “Remember Bataan!” became a rallying cry for both Filipinos and Americans who sought to stem and then reverse the Japanese war machine.

  This Buy War Bonds Poster, says "Remember me? I was at Bataan" It is at the National Archives, as part of the Series: World War II Posters, compiled 1942 - 1945.  (Courtesy WWII letters.blogspot.com)

This Buy War Bonds Poster, says “Remember me? I was at Bataan”
It is at the National Archives, as part of the Series: World War II Posters, compiled 1942 – 1945. (Courtesy WWII letters.blogspot.com)

On 11 June 2015, Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) of the 114th Congress (2015-2016) introduced a bill into the US Senate that would award the Congressional Gold medal to Filipino veterans of World War II, including those who fought on Bataan. The bill, titled S.1555 – Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015, was read twice and then referred to the Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. The award, should it be approved, would be “of a single gold medal of appropriate design to the Filipino Veterans of World War II in recognition of the dedicated service of the veterans during World War II.”

Major Bataan-related highlights of the text of the bill are recapped here as follows in these excerpts:

“(5) On July 26, 1941, as tensions with Japan rose in the Pacific, President Franklin D. Roosevelt used his authority vested in the Constitution of the United States and the Philippine Independence Act to “call into service of the United States … all of the organized military forces of the Government of the Philippines.” On July 27th, 1941, in accordance with a War Department directive received a day earlier, the United States Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) was established, and Manila was designated as the command headquarters. Commander of the USAFFE, General Douglas MacArthur, planned to absorb the entire Philippine army into the USAFFE in phases. The first phase, which began on September 1, 1941, included 25,000 men and 4,000 officers.

(6) Filipinos who served in the USAFFE included—

(A) the Philippine Scouts, who comprised half of the 22,532 soldiers in the Philippine Department, or United States Army garrison stationed in the Islands at the start of the war;

(B) the Philippine Commonwealth Army;

(8) On December 8th, 1941, not even 24 hours after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Japanese Imperial forces attacked bases of the United States Army in the Philippines.

(9) In the spring of 1942, the Japanese 14th Army overran the Bataan Peninsula, and, after a heroic but futile defense, more than 78,000 members of the United States Armed Forces were captured, specifically 66,000 Filipinos and 12,000 service members from the United States. The Japanese transferred the captured soldiers from Bataan to Camp O’Donnell, in what is now known as the infamous Bataan Death March. Forced to march the 70-mile distance in 1 week, without adequate food, water, or medicine, nearly 700 members of the United States Armed Forces and an estimated 6,000 to 10,000 Filipinos perished during the journey.

(18) Filipinos participated in the war out of national pride, as well as out of a commitment to the Allied forces struggle against fascism. 57,000 Filipinos in uniform died in the war effort. Estimates of civilian deaths range from 700,000 to upwards of 1,000,000, or between 4.38 to 6.25 percent of the prewar population of 16,000,000.

(19) Because Filipinos who served in the Commonwealth Army of the Philippines were originally considered a part of the Allied struggle, the military order issued by President Roosevelt on July 26, 1941, stated that Filipinos who served in the Commonwealth Army of the Philippines were entitled to full veterans benefits. The guarantee to pay back the service of Filipinos through veterans benefits was reversed by the Rescission Acts of 1946 (Public Laws 79–301 and 79–391; 60 Stat. 6 and 60 Stat. 221), which deemed that the wartime service of the Commonwealth Army of the Philippines and the new Philippine Scouts was not considered active and, therefore, did not qualify for benefits.

(20) The loyal and valiant Filipino Veterans of World War II fought, suffered, and, in many instances, died in the same manner and under the same commander as other members of the United States Armed Forces during World War II.

(21) The Filipino Veterans of World War II fought alongside, and as an integral part of, the United States Armed Forces. The Philippines remained a territory of the United States for the duration of the war and, accordingly, the United States maintained sovereignty over Philippine foreign relations, including Philippine laws enacted by the Philippine Government. Filipinos who fought in the Philippines were not only defending or fighting for the Philippines, but also defending, and ultimately liberating, sovereign territory held by the United States Government.

(22) The United States remains forever indebted to the bravery, valor, and dedication that the Filipino Veterans of World War II displayed. Their commitment and sacrifice demonstrates a highly uncommon and commendable sense of patriotism and honor.”

//END OF S.1555 EXCERPTS//

The full text of the bill is quite illuminating on the role of Filipino veterans in World War II, worth a read on its own, and available at: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/1555/text

And saved in .pdf format at:  BILLS-114s1555is

This Senate Bill is a modest but worthy measure of recognition for the Filipino veterans who contributed so much to the US armed forces during World War II. It is now in the Senate’s Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee for further consideration. Per committee rules, legislation bestowing a Congressional Gold Medal upon a recipient must be co-sponsored by two-thirds of the membership of both the House of Representatives and the Senate before their respective committees (the House Committee on Financial Services and the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs) will consider it.

If you are an American citizen, it is worth your time to compose a note to your Congressional representatives in the Senate and the House to ask for their support for S. 1555 to acknowledge these Filipino veterans. Congress often responds to public input if enough of it is received on a given issue.

If your state has a member of the Senate on the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, your input might carry even more weight, and help demonstrate some genuine interest and concern for this – it’s important. An example of why is explained a bit further below. View this Senate committee’s current membership at:

https://www.opencongress.org/committee/show/146_senate_committee_on_banking_housing_and_urban_affairs

An example of a public letter to Congress on this Filipino veterans Congressional Gold Medal bill is that of Ms. Cecilia Gaerlan of California, which you can read at: https://www.opencongress.org/contact_congress_letters/87366-S-1555-Filipino-Veterans-of-World-War-II-Congressional-Gold-Medal-Act-of-2015

This is not the first time, nor likely the last, that members of Congress have sought to recognize Filipino veterans. Back on 31 July 2008, on the anniversary of President Roosevelt’s 26 July 1941 call to arms of Philippine Commonwealth soldiers, the 110th Congress introduced House Resolution 1400, the purpose of which was:

“Expressing the Nation’s sincerest appreciation for the service of the World War II Filipino veterans who fought in the Armed Forces on the 67th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s military order.”

The full text of this resolution, worth reading, is posted here and under references:

BILLS-110hres1400ih

Although this 2008 resolution was introduced in Congress, it was not enacted. Perhaps it did not have the support it should have because of the lack of knowledge and awareness among American citizens and politicians of the vital role Filipino troops played in the war in the Pacific. This is one of the reasons for this web log.

(Courtesy USmilitariaforum.com)

(Courtesy USmilitariaforum.com)

References

Executive order 8832, text, at: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=16148

26 July 1941 Roosevelt quote, from: http://www.bakitwhy.com/articles/71st-anniversary-military-order-pres-roosevelt-placing-philippine-commonwealth-army-under

House Resolution 1400, text, at: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/110/hres1400/text

Congressional God medal, Wikipedia entry, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congressional_Gold_Medal
Images

Picture of FDR signing document, at: https://thefrontblog.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/datebook-july-26-fdr-freezes-japanese-assets-70-years-ago/

Picture of Philippine Army troops going into US service, at: http://pinoyhistory.proboards.com/thread/231/philippine-commonwealth-army-call-arms

Bataan poster, at: http://wwiiletters.blogspot.com/2009/01/bataan-death-march-1942-photos.html

Remember Bataan picture, at: http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/16061-bataan-battlefield-visit/

Veterans Day, Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Philippine Scouts engage the enemy in the Battle of the Points, 23 January to 17 February, 1942  (Courtesy Ishreh Masayon Bataan Paintings on Flickrover.com)

Philippine Scouts engage the enemy in the Battle of the Points, 23 January to 17 February, 1942
(Courtesy Ishreh Masayon Bataan Paintings on Flickrover.com)

Today in the United States we honor the Veterans of all our wars, the men and women who served in our armed forces, past and present. As we remember them, and thank them, let us also remember and thank all the brave Filipino patriots who fought under our flag and for the freedom of their native land. Whether Philippine Scout, Philippine Army, Army Air Corps or Off Shore Patrol, we remember your service and sacrifice in the Bataan Campaign on this day too!

References
Battle of the Points painting: http://www.flickriver.com/photos/bataan_paintings/popular-interesting/
and at:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/bataan_paintings/4531311732/in/dateposted/
Morton, Louis, The Fall of the Philippines, Chapter XVII The Battle of the Points, at:
https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-P-PI/USA-P-PI-17.html

Saddle Up! An Airman who joined the Cavalry on Bataan

There are many tales from the Bataan Campaign. Some are fairly straightforward in that a given person is assigned to a unit and it is possible to follow that person and the unit through the campaign.

Other stories are more complex, when due to circumstances and/or the fortunes of war, a given person’s situation changes drastically. Such is the case with an Army Air Corps Corporal by the name of Harold A. Bergbower.

Harold A. Berbower in his early days of military service.  (Courtesy American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor )

Harold A. Berbower in his early days of military service. (Courtesy American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor)

Born in 1920, Bergbower joined the Army Air Corps on 12 May 1939. A year later, he went to school at Chanute Field, Illinois and trained as an air mechanic. In January, 1940, he volunteered to serve in the Philippine Islands.

When the war began Berbower was an aircraft mechanic in the 28th Bomb Squadron. He was wounded in the initial attack on Clark Field and taken for dead to the Fort Stotsenburg hospital, where he later awoke in the hospital morgue. He gathered his wits and his shoes and left to return to his squadron.

Clark Field burns in the aftermath of the Japanese air raid of 8 December 1941. (Courtesy The Bataan Commemorative Research Project Scrapbook)

Clark Field burns in the aftermath of the Japanese air raid of 8 December 1941. (Courtesy The Bataan Commemorative Research Project Scrapbook)

Although a mechanic, Bergbower apparently flew three aerial missions with his squadron, including one against Japanese warships as an impromptu aerial gunner in an old B-10 (see video at link below), before it came time in late December, 1941, for the evacuation of Clark Field. Dropped off at his bivouac to retrieve some personnel belongings, his ride apparently did not return. But for some Philippine Scouts of the 26th Cavalry happening by with an extra horse in tow, he might have been captured at Clark by the approaching Imperial Japanese Army.

Philippine Scouts of the Machine Gun Troop of the 26th Cavalry Regiment (PS) ford a river just prior to the Japanese invasion. From the cover of the March/April, 1943 issue of "The Cavalry Journal".  (Courtesy Historum.com and Philippine Scouts Heritage Society)

Philippine Scouts of the Machine Gun Troop of the 26th Cavalry Regiment (PS) ford a river just prior to the Japanese invasion. From the cover of the March/April, 1943 issue of “The Cavalry Journal”. (Courtesy Historum.com and Philippine Scouts Heritage Society)

Not knowing where his unit went in the haste and confusion of the movement out of Clark and to Bataan, Bergbower left on horseback with the Scouts and rode south for the peninsula, where he remained with the 26th Cavalry (PS) and served in the unit’s B Troop for some 2 ½ months, into March, 1942.

A 1/6 scale action figure of a 26th Cavalry (PS) trooper.  It won first place in the WWII 1/6 scale category of the 2005 Weekend of Heroes Convention. The artist is Philip Garcia.  (Courtesy Philippine Scouts Heritage Society)

A 1/6 scale action figure of a 26th Cavalry (PS) trooper. It won first place in the WWII 1/6 scale category of the 2005 Weekend of Heroes Convention. The artist is Philip Garcia. (Courtesy Philippine Scouts Heritage Society)

Bergbower described his service with the Philippine Scouts in a 2007 interview for Rutgers University conducted by Heather Witherspoon: “So I fought with the Filipino Scouts on horseback until the middle of March, about two and a half months. … By that time, the food was so scarce that they used their horses and the mules from the 26th Calvary Unit as food.”

In the interview Bergbower (HB) told Witherspoon (HW) about one memorable event in his adopted cavalry service:

HB: When I served with the 26th Calvary I was going into General King’s headquarters during a (air) raid and, of course, you always dismount a horse from on the left side, and a bomb, went on the right side of the horse, and it killed the horse, and I had a piece of shrapnel went through my finger and into the saddle and I couldn’t get it out, off. So …

HW: You couldn’t get your finger off the saddle?

HB: Couldn’t get my finger off the saddle, and so I finally got my knife and I cut the strap and got the saddle off the horse and I carried that into the headquarters and the General says, “You didn’t need to bring the saddle with you,” and I said, “Well, if you can get it off, my finger off of that saddle, I would appreciate it.” [laughter] They finally sent me down to the woodwork shop and they chiseled it out.

HW: Oh, my. So you went in to see General King with a saddle on your finger. [laughter] You also, well, you said that the horse saved your life.

HB: Yeah. It took all the shock pretty well, except for my hand was still on the saddle, until I reached the ground. Then I couldn’t get it off.

Bergbower described his subsequent departure for Mindanao to rejoin his unit, the 28th Bomb Squadron, elsewhere in this interview: “The Scouts, asked me what I was going to do and I said, “Well, I don’t know. My squadron is already on Mindanao.” He said, “Well, we’re going by outrigger to Mindanao. You are welcome to join us.” So, five or six days in an outrigger, in the open waters, boy, [that’s] scary. But we made it to Mindanao, a place called Cagayan. I went down to where my squadron was, they were at the Pulangi River, the second line of defense from the city of Davao, and there I fought in the infantry until the surrender went through.”

Bergbower was subsequently imprisoned on Mindanao, first at Malaybalay and later the infamous Davao Penal Colony. He was eventually sent to Japan aboard a Hell Ship and ended up working as a slave laborer in a steel mill in Toyama, Japan.

After the war Bergbower stayed in the service, transitioned to the Air Force and retired as a Chief Master Sergeant (E-9) in 1969. He married after WWII and had three kids. He was the National Commander, of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor (ADBC) in 2005-2006.

In 2002, he returned to the Philippines with his daughter. “…my daughter, she didn’t know really too much about what I went through. I got an e-mail about a trip going to the Philippines for the sixtieth anniversary of the fall of Bataan, and I had kind of decided I would go, and then I decided I wouldn’t go. But my daughter got a hold of this and she said, “We’re going,” so, we went…It was a fantastic trip, fantastic. We stayed at the Manila Hotel when we were in that area. We made the trip up to Camp O’Donnell and Camp O’Donnell was the first POW camp in the Philippines, and they have planted thirty-one thousand trees at Camp O’Donnell, one tree for each guy that died at Camp O’Donnell, and that’s American troops and Filipinos.”

More recently, Bergbower went on another overseas trip, this time back to Japan, as part of the POW/Japan Friendship Program which started in 2010 and has now taken place six times. Bergbower’s daughter wrote in early 2013 of the value of this initiative:

“This program has really helped my Dad. For years, Dad would have nightmares after any talk, show, or sometimes just because of his years as a POW. Since our visit his nightmares have gone. I cannot really put in words what that day at the Japanese Factory in Takaoka, Toyama, Japan did. He has not forgotten or totally forgiven but there is now a peace to his remembrance. If you are able please consider participating in this program. My Dad’s memory is failing on his daily activities but he continues to recall his trip to Japan. Now when he talks about his POW experience he can now add closure. The audience is amazed at his story. I was honored to go with Dad to Japan. If you are a descendant please talk with your parent about the program. It truly is a life changer.”

Debra Bergbower-Grunwald
Daughter of Harold Bergbower,
Past National Commander, ADBC

Bergbower may be retired, residing in Arizona, but he still works to share his experience to younger generations.

Ms. Debra Bergbower, the daughter of retired Chief Master Sgt. Harold Bergbower, 26th Calvary Regiment air mechanic, holds the microphone for him during his guest speaking for Focus 56 at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., May 15, 2014. Bergbower is a POW and was help in captivity from May 1943 until August 18945. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devante Williams)

Ms. Debra Bergbower, the daughter of retired Chief Master Sgt. Harold Bergbower, 26th Calvary Regiment air mechanic, holds the microphone for him during his guest speaking for Focus 56 at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., May 15, 2014. Bergbower is a POW and was help in captivity from May 1943 until August 18945. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devante Williams)

He also appears at military bases and is interviewed by media, such as in this short (2:43) video story just released on 4 November 2015:

https://www.dvidshub.net/video/432581/retired-chief-master-sgt-harold-bergbower-feature-story#.Vj2SC2vm5g9

May those who are able to meet and hear CMSgt Harold A. Bergbower, USAF (Retired) pay attention, and learn, while this man is still among us. Hand Salute to Chief Bergbower!

Retired Chief Master Sgt. Harold Bergbower was born May 11, 1920, in Newton, Ill. He joined the Army Air Corps May 12, 1939. One year later, he went to school at Chanute Field, Ill., and became an air mechanic. In January 1940, he volunteered to go to the Philippine Islands, where he stayed for a year and a half, until the attack on Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Grace Lee)

Retired Chief Master Sgt. Harold Bergbower was born May 11, 1920, in Newton, Ill. He joined the Army Air Corps May 12, 1939. One year later, he went to school at Chanute Field, Ill., and became an air mechanic. In January 1940, he volunteered to go to the Philippine Islands, where he stayed for a year and a half, until the attack on Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Grace Lee)

References

28 BOMB SQUADRON (AFGSC) http://www.afhra.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=11738

28th Bombardment Squadron Account and Roster, at: http://philippine-defenders.lib.wv.us/html/28th_bombardment_squadron.html

Clark Field painting, at: http://pinoyhistory.proboards.com/thread/1600/dec-8-1941-clark-field

26th Cavalry (PS) prewar patrol picture, at:  http://historum.com/war-military-history/54864-edwin-ramsey-leader-last-us-cavalry-charge-phillipine-resistance-fighter-dies.html

26th Cavalry (PS) patrol led by Capt. John Wheeler, picture at:  http://www.philippine-scouts.org/the-scouts/regiments-units-bases/26th-cavalry-regiment-ps.html

Philippine Scout Cavalry trooper model, at:  http://www.philippine-scouts.org/the-scouts/insignia-memorabilia/26th-cavalry-ps-trooper-model.html

Harold Bergbower, background information, at: http://philippine-defenders.lib.wv.us/html/bergbower_harold_bio.html

Bergbower, Harold A., 2007 interview, at: http://oralhistory.rutgers.edu/interviewees/30-interview-html-text/722-bergbower-harold-a

Joseph A. Vater, Jr., President, American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society, letter of February 15, 2013 to The Honorable Joseph Y. Yun, Acting Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State. Posted at: http://www.us-japandialogueonpows.org/DGlettertoState.htm

A1C Cannon, Chase A. “Honoring the Bataan – One man’s fight to survive,” 49th Wing Public Affairs, 14 April 2014, at: http://airman.dodlive.mil/2014/04/honoring-the-bataan/

TSgt Jackson, Michael, “Video: Retired Chief Master Sgt. Harold Bergbower – Feature Story,” 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, 4 November 2015, at: https://www.dvidshub.net/video/432581/retired-chief-master-sgt-harold-bergbower-feature-story#.Vj2SC2vm5g9

SSgt Miller, Staci and SrA Lee, Grace, “News: Retired Chief Master Sgt. Harold Bergbower,” 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, 4 November 2015, at: https://www.dvidshub.net/news/180843/retired-chief-master-sgt-harold-bergbower#.Vj2SBmvm5g9

SrA Williams, Devante, “WWII veteran shares story,” 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, 30 May 2014, at: http://www.luke.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123412799