Two different groups commemorated the 80th Anniversary of Bataan Death March in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Bataan Legacy Historical Society (BLHS), in partnership with the USS Hornet, Sea, Air & Space Museum, the Philippine Scouts Heritage Society and the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society, commemorated the 80th anniversary of the Bataan Death March on Sunday, April 10 at the USS Hornet in Alameda.

Meanwhile the Filipino Community of San Francisco Bay Area held a Mass for Peace in Ukraine at Half Moon Bay on April 9

Mass for Peace in Ukraine organizer Ted Laguatan impressed upon everyone that “we all belong to the family of mankind and cannot allow national boundaries to stop us from loving and caring for our fellowmen.”

“At this time in history, the demonic monster is killing and maiming innocent Ukrainian civilians including infants, children, men, women and the elderly. They are going through horrible sufferings,” Laguatan decried.

“We offer this mass and our prayers to the people of Ukraine who are our brothers and sisters in Christ.”

For his part, co-organizer Rodel Rodis explained that “we seek deep prayers for Ukraine to always remind us of the current hardships, desperation, utter sadness and frustrations of all Ukrainians as their beloved country and its people suffer horrific physical, mental and emotional destruction in the hands of supposedly brother Russians at this is a very important period in Philippine history.

“Just the same, many have little memory of what really happened then in the1940s, we need to remind people now that we come to know of what is happening in Ukraine and, more importantly, also to be reminded that another imperial power that is China is at present interested in invading the Philippines.

We hope that Filipinos defend the West Philippine Sea in case we are truly invaded by China in the same way Ukrainians defend their country,” Rodis urged.

Rodis added that as they invite Filipinos to pray for and show solidarity with Ukraine, they implore Filipinos to contribute, monetarily or by other means, in alleviating the plight of Ukrainian refugees all over the world to escape the horrors of war.

“We also have to show to the world that we are also ready to respond accordingly the same way that the world did when the Philippines needed help during times of calamities brought about by typhoons, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, to name a few, when the world responded and helped,” recounted Rodis.

The Mass for Peace in Ukraine was held at BVM Mater Dei Shrine in Half Moon Bay California last. April 9.

In an early response, Ukrainian Community of San Francisco leader Marina Riskin expressed the community’s appreciation “for the support and solidarity of the San Francisco Filipino community for the people of Ukraine.”

“At this time when Russia has invaded our country and is killing our people just as Japan did to the Philippines 80 years ago your community’s support is greatly appreciated at this time as we want Russia to stop its war and killing of our people in Ukraine.

May there be peace!” Riskin replied.

The BLHS event began at 10AM 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), followed by a memorial ceremony at 11:30AM.

There was also an exhibition on WWII in the Philippines, the Hell Ships and Air Group 11.  Master of ceremonies was Brig. Gen. Steven McLaughlin; Keynote speaker, Vice- admiral Michael McAllister, commander of the US Coast Guard, Pacific Area and Defense Force West.

Eighty years ago, on April 9, 1942, approximately 75,000 Filipino and American troops of the US Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) were forced to surrender to the Imperial Japanese Army after fighting in the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines but the USAFFE troops were able to delay the 50-day timetable of the Japanese Army by holding on to Bataan for 99 days despite suffering from massive disease, starvation and fighting without any air support.

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 and 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 that became a rallying cry in the United States as thousands enlisted to join the war.

This year’s commemoration brought together Filipino and American descendants of the US Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE), Air Group 11.

The USS Hornet was 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 and water.
More than 126,000 American and Allied POWs 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, majority of whom were Javanese slave laborers whose names have been consigned to oblivion.

This event is the first opportunity that descendants of those who perished on the Oryoku and Enoura Marus and Air Group 11 came together.