This weeks Wednesday Hero is dedicated to thousands of men who lost their lives in April of 1942 in what has become known as the Bataan Death March.
On April 9, 1942 Major General Edward P. King, Jr. surrendered 75,000+ men (Filipinos, Chinese Filipinos, and Americans) who had been fighting the Japanese since January of that year when they launched a full scale invasion of The Philippines. They were starving and wracked with disease. Upon their surrender the men were robbed of their possessions and forced into a 61 mile, 5-12 day, march to Camp O'Donnell. Along the way men were brutally beaten, staved of food and water, some had their throats cut, some were beheaded, some died to disease or exposure or untreated wounds and others were simply executed. In all the death tally is unknown but it's estimated that between 6,000 to as many as 20,000 men didn't survive the march.
Maj. Richard Gordon: "I didn't come down with a surrender group. They caught me actually two days after the surrender took place. First thing I did was receive a good beating. And everything I had in my wallet, in my pockets was taken from me. And as I was marched down that road, where they captured me, I passed my battalion commander, Major James Ivy, and he had been tied to a tree and he was stripped to the waist and he was just covered with bayonet holes. He was dead obviously. And he had bled profusely. He had been bayonetted by many, many bayonets. And that's when I knew we had some troubles on our hands. We were in for deep trouble. And they brought us down into a staging area and put me in with the rest of the thousands that were assembled on the side of the road, and that's where I spent my first night."
Here's a great link with more information and interviews with survivors.
The sacrifice and Hell that these men went through will not be forgotten. I don't know about anyone else, but I never learned about this while in school. If you're children aren't being taught this piece of history make sure that you do it for them. These men must be remembered and honored.