Bataan Falls – 70 years ago today
This is the day, and this is the time. As I write this, it is about 8am in Manila in the Philippines. 70 years ago, Gen. King was on his way to a meeting with Japanese Maj. Gen. Kameichiro Nagano to negotiate surrender terms. Much has been written about this event, and I won’t go into the details here again (great details here by Fred Baldassare: http://battlingbastardsbataan.com/lamao.htm). But after several hours of negotiation, a surrender was complete.
And with that, some 75,000 Filipino and American troops became prisoners of the Imperial Japanese Army. These troops, weakened by poor nutrition and medical care, had succeeded in delaying the advance of Japanese troops for 3 months and helped give Australia and other South Pacific allied forces time to regroup and prepare to fight. The troops on Bataan had performed their duties to the bitter end, even following orders to destroy all remaining arms, food supplies and vehicles to prevent them from falling into enemy hands.
But the surrender on April 9, 1942 was only the beginning. We can only imagine the fear, tempered by relief that the artillery was no longer battering their positions. These troops, many of them arriving just weeks before the December 8th bombing of Clark Airfield and the start of the war, were now prisoners. For the overwhelming majority, their fight on the battlefield was over – but their tribulations had just begun.
Today, we say a prayer for the memory of these brave men, women and civilians who waited to find out what the future held for them. And we thank each of them for their role in preserving the freedoms we take for granted today.