Bataan Death March 80th anniversary rites at USS Hornet on April 10
ALAMEDA, California – The 80th anniversary of the Bataan Death March will be commemorated on on Sunday, April 10, at the USS Hornet Museum in Alameda, California, hosted by the Bataan Legacy Historical Society, in partnership with the USS Hornet Sea, Air & Space Museum, the Philippine Scouts Heritage Society and American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society.
The event will begin at 10 a.m. with a panel discussion on the bombing of the hell ships Oryoku Maru and Enoura Maru by Air Group 11 (CVG-11), which was stationed at the USS Hornet (CV-12). A memorial ceremony will follow at 11:30 a.m. There will also be an exhibition on WWII in the Philippines, the Hell Ships and Air Group 11.
Brig. General Steven McLaughlin will be master of ceremonies and Vice Admiral Michael McAllister, Commander of the U.S. Coast Guard, Pacific Area, will be the keynote speaker.
Eighty years ago, on April 9, 1942, approximately 75,000 Filipino and American troops of the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) had to surrender to the Imperial Japanese Army after fighting in the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines.
Despite suffering from massive disease, starvation and fighting without any air support, the USAFFE troops were able to delay the 50-day timetable of the Japanese Army by holding on to Bataan for 99 days.
After the Fall of Bataan they were forced to march to their prison camp about 65 miles away under extreme tropical conditions, with no provisions for food, water, shelter or medicine. Those who could no longer go on were beaten, bayoneted, shot and some were even beheaded. Thousands died during this march, which became infamously known as the Bataan Death March. It became a rallying cry in the United States as thousands enlisted to join the war.
This year’s commemoration will bring together Filipino and American descendants of the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE), Air Group 11 and the USS Hornet.
Hell ships were unmarked Japanese merchant vessels that transported Japanese troops and civilians, arms, ammunition, raw materials and other reinforcement. They were also used to carry prisoners of war who were crammed in the holds of the ships under intolerable conditions with no provisions for ventilation, toilets, water, etc.
More than 126,000 American and Allied POW’s were transported in 156 voyages between January 1942 and July 1945. Around 1,500 died during the voyage from these infernal conditions. But approximately 20,000 more died by friendly fire from American and Allied forces.
The largest casualty was in the Junyo Maru when 5,620 passengers out of 6,520 died on September 17, 1944, from Java to Sumatra, the majority of whom were Javanese slave laborers whose names have been consigned to oblivion. This event will be the first opportunity that descendants of those who perished on the Oryoku and Enoura Marus and Air Group 11 will be together.
The Press is welcome onboard to see the exhibit and attend the event. More materials are available upon request. Tickets are available through www.uss-hornet.org.