PAX: Blip, Mincemeat, Chasqui, Tron
WARMUP: hill climbs right off the parking lot.
6.5 miles. Four stops.
1. The setting
The Battle of Bataan was three months long, three months of slog and misery. Japanese efforts throughout the Pacific had been almost effortless… Except in the Phillipines.
The three months were brutal. 120,000 combined US and Fillipino troops were faced by 75,000 attacking Japanese troops. US naval and air power in the area had been neutralized, leading to an effective isolation of the troops on the ground.
By the end of the conflict, 10,000 of the combined US/Fillipino troops were killed while somewhere between 8000 and 22000 Japanese troops died.
On April 8, 1942, the senior U.S. commander on Bataan, Major General Edward P. King, saw the futility of further resistance, and put forth proposals for capitulation.
April 9, 1942: the remaining weary, starving and emaciated American and Filipino defenders on the battle-swept Bataan Peninsula surrendered.
2. The pathway
The forcible transfer by the Imperial Japanese Army of between 75,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war from Saysain Point, Bagac, Bataan and Mariveles to Camp O’Donnell, Capas, Tarlac, via San Fernando, Pampanga.
Due to the huge number of POWs, a logistical nightmare was created: what to do with all the sick, starving, and wounded troops? Malaria had ravaged both sides. Food had run out. The Japanese had their eyes elsewhere, so what to do?
Once the surviving prisoners arrived in Balanga, the overcrowded conditions and poor hygiene caused dysentery and other diseases to spread rapidly. The Japanese did not provide the prisoners with medical care, so U.S. medical personnel tended to the sick and wounded with few or no supplies.
Upon arrival at the San Fernando railhead, prisoners were stuffed into sweltering, brutally hot metal box cars for the one-hour trip to Capas, in 43 °C (110 °F) heat. At least 100 prisoners were pushed into each of the unventilated boxcars.
Upon arrival at the Capas train station, they were forced to walk the final 9 miles (14 km) to Camp O’Donnell, a former US military reservation. Conditions at Camp O’Donnell were primitive. The POWs lived in bamboo huts, sleeping on the bamboo floor often without any covering. There was no plumbing; water was scarce. Weakened by malaria, dysentery was rampant. Medicine was in short supply. Diet was roughly 1500 calories a day.
Along the route of the main march, perhaps as many as 500 Americans and perhaps 2,500 Filipino soldiers were killed. In Camp O’Donnell, perhaps some 26,000 Filipino soldiers and some 1,500 Americans died of starvation and disease. In all, of the some 22,000 Americans (soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines) captured by Japanese forces on the Bataan Peninsula, only about 15,000 returned to the United States, a death rate of more than 30 percent.
Camp O’Donnell was recaptured by the United States Army, the Philippine Commonwealth Army, and the Philippine Constabulary on 30 January 1945.
It was the largest US surrender in history.
4. Prisoners of the Bataan Death March & Honor items
Lewis C. Beebe
Thomas F. Breslin
William E. Brougher
Albert Brown (American veteran)
Lawrence S. Churchill
Robert W. Levering
Jose B. Lingad
Maxon S. Lough
Guillermo B. Francisco
Luther R. Stevens
Robert P. Taylor
Thomas J. H. Trapnell
Those who brought honor items shared the stories behind who they were honoring.