Survivors of the Bataan Death march are marking a milestone anniversary this weekend.
Sunday is the 75th anniversary of the U.S. surrender of the Bataan peninsula in the Philippines during World War II, which led to the infamous six-day, 65-mile march.
“When we heard the word, ‘surrender,’ a lot of us were crying. I was crying,” 96-year-old Atilano Bernardo David told KRQE.
With no food or water, U.S. and Filipino soldiers were forced to march to prison camps.
“I was already like lethargic, almost hallucinating because I was hungry. I was tired. I was thirsty,” said David, who had been fighting with the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East. “When the death march started, we found out we should not have surrendered because the Japanese brutality, brutality against humanity, you cannot imagine because they were bayoneting and beheading at will.”
David credits others for his survival of the Bataan Death March.
“My buddies decided that I was too weak to last,” he told KRQE. “That I was really going to die on the way.”
So, he said, they pushed him into a nearby ditch to hide. He said people living in the area had dug roadside ditches for that purpose of helping prisoners escape.
“They pushed me into the gap, and I fell down and sort of lost consciousness,” David told KRQE.
He estimates he had marched for about 20 miles at that point.
Someone took David into their home for three days, nursing him back to health before he said he joined a guerrilla unit until the war’s end.
“There are still ghosts roaming the road to the concentration camp,” David told KRQE.
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