Bataan women dating
But thousands of miles away, some of their loved ones endured.
Ken Porwoll said his reason for survival was mental distance from what was going on."You got in so much of a stupor, you were numb," he said in 1998.
A Brainerd newspaper article from 1942 recorded the reaction of the town."Wives of soldiers who gathered with friends and in little groups last night to talk about their soldiers and listen for news, often broke into tears and openly wept," the article said.
"One man, walking alone down a city street, suddenly stopped in his tracks and in a loud voice cursed the failure of reinforcements to arrive..."Don Samuelson, son of A Company member Walter Samuelson, recalled Sunday how he felt as a small boy in 1942, hearing the news."I remember walking down the street when the news came out. I was just kind of bitter, even as a little kid," he said.
They fought a long, desperate delaying action at the Bataan Peninsula of the island of Luzon, using their tanks to cover the infantry, then retreating themselves, then covering the infantry again as the Americans were forced further and further back amid evaporating supplies.
While they have since passed away, a number of Straka's fellow survivors have told the Dispatch at one point or another what happened.
If they survived disease and starvation on the way over, the POWs were put to work in factories.
The Death March didn't become public knowledge back in States until many months after it happened.Former prisoner of war Walt Straka is the last alive out the 64 men that originally made up Brainerd's A Company, 194th Tank Battalion.Thirty-two men died in battle or while prisoners of war. He did not attend the ceremony as he won't be back from his winter home in Texas until April 11, he said.For each name, they hung the soldier's dog tags on the gun barrel of an M3 Stuart tank outside the armory—the same kind of tank the 194th used at Bataan. There are several ways the modern unit makes a constant practice of remembering the men who came before, Bingham said.The unit's radio call sign is "the Bastards"—for example, the battalion commander is identified over the radio as "Bastard Six".Soldiers hang dog tags of the 32 A Company men who died in combat or captivity on the gun barrel of an M3 Stuart tank outside the armory Sunday during the wreath laying ceremony for the 75th anniversary of the Bataan Death March at the Brainerd armory.Kelly Humphrey/Forum News Service Dog tags of the 32 A Company men who died in combat or captivity hang on the gun barrel of an M3 Stuart tank outside the armory Sunday during the wreath laying ceremony for the 75th anniversary of the Bataan Death March at the Brainerd armory.After Peck got back home, he struggled to adjust to a world where one didn't have to worry about being bayoneted by Japanese guards."I didn't know how to act," Peck said in 1999. "It was kind of hard to get used to being a free person."Peck's widow Erma said Sunday that the ceremony meant everything in the world to her."We need this," she said. Eventually the Americans found themselves with no other choice than to surrender to the Japanese army on April 9.They were then force-marched north more than 60 miles with almost no food or water, and eventually put in prison camps.