National Former POW Recognition Day

April 9th is the 81st anniversary of the fall of the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines and the beginning of the infamous Bataan Death March. Less than half of the men on Bataan would survive WWII, the majority dying as POWs of Imperial Japan. President Joe Biden’s cousin, John Robinette, a tanker from Ohio, was on the Bataan Death March and died as a POW of Japan in the Philippines.

In Washington D.C., there will be a ceremony on Friday, April 7th at 11:00am at the National World War II Memorial on the Mall. The event is hosted by the Embassy of the Philippines and the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP). April 9th is a national holiday in the Philippines, The Day of Valor (Araw ng Kagitingan).

At 2:00pm and 4:00pm that afternoon at the WWII Memorial, Park Ranger Paul O’Brian will give a 30 minute presentation on the April 4, 1943 escape by 10 POWs from the Davao Penal Colony on Mindanao in the Philippines. They were led by Texas airman Lt. William Dyess, who told his story to the Chicago Tribune. The series of interviews, published in January 1944 after Dyess’ death in December 1943 in an airplane accident, embedded the phrase “Bataan Death March” in the American lexicon.

In San Francisco, the Bataan Death March 81st Anniversary Commemoration will be held April 15 from 10:00am-Noon at the San Francisco National Cemetery. The event is hosted by the Bataan Legacy Historical Society in partnership with the San Francisco National Cemetery & VFW 91st Division/Chinatown Post 4618. Link to registration.

Mindy Kotler Smith
American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society