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!

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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

Bataan Echoes from New Mexico

It seems the nature of the internet to be similar to the sea, with repeated searches of the shore sometimes yielding a fact that the ocean of the internet churns forth.

Such was the case the other day, when a typical Google search yielded the sad news of the passing of yet another Bataan veteran and Death March survivor, Charles F. Sanchez of Albuquerque on 16 October 2015 at age 96. He had only recently been honored in Congress – belated perhaps but recognition nonetheless. The experience Charles Sanchez had during the war was so difficult, he only talked with his sons and family members who joined the military – he never discussed it with his wife or two daughters.

Charles F. Sanchez was one of the last remaining 25 survivors of the Bataan Death march in the Philippines during World War II. On his return to the U.S. at age 28, he was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.  (M. Sheppard, Albuquerque Journal)

Charles F. Sanchez was one of the last remaining 25 survivors of the Bataan Death March in the Philippines during World War II. On his return to the U.S. at age 28, he was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. (M. Sheppard, Albuquerque Journal)

Sanchez was a member of the New Mexico National Guard’s B Battery in the 200 Coastal Artillery Regiment (Anti-Aircraft). About 1,800 men were in the two regiments (200th and 515th) of the New Mexico National Guard which the US government sent to reinforce the Philippines in late 1941, and which fought in the Bataan Campaign. Only half of them survived the war. Now that Charles Sanchez has departed, there are but 24 men left from these two regiments, about half of them residing in New Mexico.

His story can be read in some more detail at a couple of the references below. But in review of the comments made to the article in the Albuquerque Journal, there was reference to another Bataan story, of Captain Frederick B. “Ted” Howden, Jr., father of three, who also served with the 200th Coastal Artillery as the Regimental Chaplain. Chaplain Howden apparently had the opportunity to be evacuated from Bataan but declined, saying “They are my boys and I’ll stay with them.” He survived Bataan and the Death March but not his imprisonment in the Davao Penal Colony.  Despite suffering from malnutrition like all the others, he gave of his own meager rations to help others.  However, Chaplain Howden succumbed to disease and neglect, and died on 11 December 1942 of pellagra and dysentery. These many years later, his granddaughter Melissa A. Howden searched for his story.

Captain Frederick B. "Ted" Howden, Jr., was the Regimental Chaplain of the 200th Coastal Artillery (AA) Regiment.  He surived the Bataan Campaign and Death March, but not captivity.  (Courtesy Angelfire.com, The Names Project)

Captain Frederick B. “Ted” Howden, Jr., was the Regimental Chaplain of the 200th Coastal Artillery (AA) Regiment. He surived the Bataan Campaign and Death March, but not captivity. (Courtesy Angelfire.com, The Names Project)

Ms. Howden assembled enough information to make a documentary film titled “Be Home Soon: Letters from My Grandfather.” Her film is about war and faith, love and loss, family myth and legacy. Perhaps it can help others to connect with their family member or friend who perished in the Bataan Campaign or the aftermath. Her effort is certainly to be commended. You can view the Be Home Soon website which features a trailer of the video documentary at:
http://www.behomesoonthefilm.com/

So, then, the periodic internet search begets one Bataan article, leading to discovery of a documentary film made, related to the 200th Coastal Artillery. What other stories and secrets from Bataan will yet be discovered?

References
Sheppard, Maggie, “‘Very gentle’ survivor of Bataan Death March dies, age 96,” posted at: http://www.abqjournal.com/665171/news/bataan-death-march-survivor-dies-age-96.html?utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook&utm_campaign=Echobox&utm_term=Autofeed#link_time=1445753590

Recognizing Charles F. Sanchez in Congress, at: https://the-constituent.com/speeches/208066/recognizing-charles-f-sanchez-by-representative-michelle-lujan-grisham

Corporal Charles F Sanchez – POW Summary, at: http://www.japanesepow.info/index.php?page=directory&rec=17133

Frederick Howden, database entry at: http://www.angelfire.com/nm/bcmfofnm/names/h.html

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

Bubonic Bataan?

In a way, it is good that the Bataan Campaign of 1942 ended when it did. In the 1990s, newly discovered documents revealed a Japanese plan for the use of biological warfare against the Fil-Am forces on Bataan.

Imperial Japanese Army Unit 731 complex in Manchuria, where many atrocities were carried out.  (    )

Imperial Japanese Army Unit 731 complex in Manchuria, where many atrocities were carried out. (Courtesy Unit731.org)

The infamous Imperial Japanese Army’s Unit 731 in Manchuria was probably the source of the development and supply of the deadly weapons. If you’ve never heard about Unit 731 you will be shocked to find out what happened there. It’s not for the faint of heart, but knowing about it will help to ensure that it doesn’t happen again, anywhere! A 19 minute 30 second video, not related to Bataan, outlines the horrific operations at Unit 731:

Unit 731 Japanese Torture & Human Experiments (Warning/Babala! Graphic images and discussion) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCkGiiabV40

In the Research Library of the Japanese Defense Agency in Tokyo, Ika Toskija and Yoshimi Yoshiaki discovered documents in the early 1990’s which indicated that Imperial Japan planned to use biological weapons in the Philippines against the Fil-Am troops on Bataan.

Information from various sources indicates beginning in March, 1942, after Japanese forces had been quite bloodied on Bataan by the stubborn Fil-Am defenders, they planned to release 1,000 kilograms of plague-infected fleas. Another source indicates the plan called for release of 200-pounds of fleas carrying the plague, about 150 million insects, in each of ten separate attacks against Bataan’s defenders.

Male Xenopsylla cheopis (oriental rat flea) engorged with blood. This flea is the primary vector of plague in most large plague epidemics in Asia, Africa, and South America. Both male and female fleas can transmit the infection.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, via Wikipedia)

Male Xenopsylla cheopis (oriental rat flea) engorged with blood. This flea is the primary vector of plague in most large plague epidemics in Asia, Africa, and South America. Both male and female fleas can transmit the infection. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, via Wikipedia)

But Bataan fell before the plan could be implemented. There’s no ready detail on all the elements of this plan, and what level of authority approved the use of such a weapon – it was probably approved at echelons above the Japanese commander in the Philippines, General Homma. It is not known who if anyone requested it either, whether from Japanese forces in the Philippines or elsewhere. Thankfully the Fil-Am forces and many civilians on Bataan were spared this biological scourge.

Nevertheless, Japan used biological weapons tested on victims at Unit 731 elsewhere, specifically in China as retaliation for Chinese support of the Doolittle Raiders who attacked Japan with B-25 medium bombers on 18 April 1942.

The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Hornet launches a USAAF B-25 Mitchell medium bomber during the Doolittle Raid, 18 April 1942.  (US Navy, via Wikipedia)

The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Hornet launches a USAAF B-25 Mitchell medium bomber during the Doolittle Raid, 18 April 1942. (US Navy, via Wikipedia)

The bombers were launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet and were to recover in China after they attacked Japan. The Japanese were enraged their homeland had been attacked, and the rage was focused on China where most of the raiders made their escape.

from mid-May through September, 1942, the Imperial Japanese conducted Operation Sei-go in China in retaliation for the support to the Doolittle raiders, and also to seize airfields to prevent future attack on Japan. In June and July of 1942, Japanese forces used aircraft to deliver cholera, plague and dysentery, as part of Sei-go. An estimated 10,000 Chinese were killed by these agents. But even the Japanese could not contain the death to the Chinese – when the wind shifted some of the dropped pathogens fell upon their own forces; other troops moved into areas where the diseases had been sown. As a result, 10,000 Japanese soldiers were affected -1,700 of them died, mostly from cholera.

Imperial Japanese Army soldiers of the JIA 13th Army during the Zhejiang-Jiangxi operation (Op Sei-go), 30 May 1942, in Jīnhuá, Zhèjiāng Province, China.  (Wikipedia)

Imperial Japanese Army soldiers of the JIA 13th Army during the Zhejiang-Jiangxi operation (Op Sei-go), 30 May 1942, in Jīnhuá, Zhèjiāng Province, China. (Wikipedia)

The Japanese never really gave up on use of biological weapons during the war, though their efforts were largely frustrated. In 1944, after the fall of Saipan, there was a plan to send a submarine to the island to land teams to spread biological agents against American forces. But the submarine was reportedly sunk before it could accomplish the mission.

Imperial Japanese Navy sailors go down with their submarine.  (Courtesy plhb.tripod.com)

Imperial Japanese Navy sailors go down with their submarine. (Courtesy plhb.tripod.com)

In 1945, another plan was to use gliders with pathogens and send them into Iwo Jima, but encountered problems getting the gliders from the Japanese Home islands to Matsumoto Airfield near Harbin, Manchuria, where presumably Unit 731 would have filled them with the nasty bugs. Use was contemplated in the battle for Okinawa, but did not occur.

Japan's Kokusai Ku-8-II glider.  During World War II Japan manufactured over 700 of these 18 passenger combat glider.  Several of them were found abandoned at Nichols Field. Near Manila, after the surrender of Japanese forces in the Philippines.  (U.S. Air Force via yankee-yankee.com)

Japan’s Kokusai Ku-8-II glider. During World War II Japan manufactured over 700 of these 18 passenger combat glider. Several of them were found abandoned at Nichols Field. Near Manila, after the surrender of Japanese forces in the Philippines. (U.S. Air Force via yankee-yankee.com)

Another 1945 plan was to make a biological warfare attack by submarine on the US west coast called Operation Cherry Blossoms at Night. The planned attack date was 22 September 1945, to use aircraft and even a landing party to spread the pathogens, but the Japanese surrender on 15 August 1945 kiboshed that venture before it could even get started.

A 1/350 scale model from Tamiya of the I-400 aircraft carrying submarine, which could carry three Aichi M6A Seiran attack floatplanes.  (Courtesy Britmodeller.com)

A 1/350 scale model from Tamiya of the I-400 aircraft carrying submarine, which could carry three Aichi M6A Seiran attack floatplanes. (Courtesy Britmodeller.com)

War is a terrible thing, and as bad as it is, there are fiendish people who would make it even more terrible, terrifying, lethal and deadly, even at the expense of the innocent. May God help us to limit this destructive impulse such as is revealed in the horror of Unit 731 and the Imperial Japanese plan to use biological weapons on Bataan.
References

Lockwood, Jeffrey A. Six-Legged Soldiers: Using Insects as Weapons of War, page 119

Monahan, Evelyn. All This Hell: U.S. Nurses Imprisoned by the Japanese, page 138

Unit 731, Wikipedia page, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unit_731

Unit 731, at: http://www.unit731.org/

Unit 731: One of the Most Terrifying Secrets of the 20th Century, at: https://www.mtholyoke.edu/~kann20c/classweb/dw2/page1.html

Plague, Wikipedia entry, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plague_%28disease%29

Tsuneishi , Keiichi, “Unit 731 and the Japanese Imperial Army’s Biological Warfare Program,” at http://www.japanfocus.org/-tsuneishi-keiichi/2194/article.html

Zhejiang-Jiangxi campaign, wikipedia entry, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhejiang-Jiangxi_campaign

Operation Cherry Blossoms at Night, Wikipedia entry, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Cherry_Blossoms_at_Night
Selected Images from other sources

Doolittle Raid launch, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_raids_on_Japan

Sinking Japanese submarine crew, at: http://plhb.tripod.com/p2.html

Japanese glider, at: http://www.yankee-yankee.com/stosil3.htm

I-400 sub and aircraft, at: http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/8856-tamiya-1350-ijn-submarine-i-400/page-2