80 Years Later: A Journey with a Bataan Death March Survivor

80 Years Later: A Journey with a Bataan Death March Survivor

Eighty years ago this week, my late friend Bob Brown, a seventeen-year-old U.S. Army Air Corps medic at that time, was walking the Bataan Death March in the Philippines.

I have since learned that chestnut trees can live hundreds of years, tall and strong, and realized that that was the image Bob wanted me to remember him by.

Like so many other POWs of the Japanese, Bob did not live to hear the official Japanese apology or to participate in the POW invitation program that started in 2010.

April 9 of this year was the eightieth anniversary of the start of the Bataan Death March. There was no official statement from either the Japanese or the U.S. government specifically commemorating the occasion. The world is facing yet another war and leaders of both countries are busy condemning atrocities committed by today’s aggressor. But I did hope that they had a few moments to remember this important day.

So, I remember Bob Brown today as I promised, and all the 27,000 American POWs, of whom 11,000 never returned home.

Kinue Tokudome is a Japanese writer residing in California. She worked with former American POWs of the Japanese for many years to obtain an apology from the Japanese government and the Japanese companies that enslaved them during WWII. She published, “Reconciliation with American POWs of the Japanese” in Japan in 2017.

Image: Reuters.