My father was an officer in the U.S. Army, serving in World War II in the Philippines. When the Japanese invaded the Philippines, it was just hours after Pearl Harbor was attacked. My father fought on Bataan, a peninsula near the capital, Manila. Along with Filipino and other American soldiers, he was trapped in Bataan, but they fought hard to hold the Japanese forces back.
These men fought against impossible odds. They resisted for four months, as their food, medicine, ammunition, and other supplies, all ran out. As the food got shorter, they found other sources of food, like caribou, monkeys, snakes, etc. They were fighting in a mountainous jungle, and many had tropical diseases, like malaria, and still, they fought on.
Finally, those brave men could fight no more. They had no food, medicine, etc. Rather than forcing them to continue, where they might have been slaughtered, their commanding officer surrendered. They had held the Japanese army at bay, slowing them from moving on to invade other islands.
But their suffering was not over. Along with thousands of other brave men, my father was forced to walk up a mountainous jungle road, while thirsty, hungry and sick. They call it the Bataan Death March. Men were beaten on the way. My father was beaten with the butt of an enemy’s gun. Other men were bayonetted, many died along the way. Those that survived, including my father, were marched to a Prisoner of War (POW) camp.
There they had not enough water for so many men; not enough food or medicine, not enough space. From there, they were divided into work groups that were sent out to work for the Japanese soldiers. If they didn’t work, they didn’t eat. They were moved from camp to camp so often that their families often did not get mail to them. Our family didn’t know if my father was alive for close to one year.
Long story short, my father and others survived and were liberated. Seventy-five years ago, on Aug. 16, 1945, he was set free to begin the long trip home. But thousands of others never got home. Some, their families never found out how they died. My 6-foot, 3-inch father weighed 101 pounds toward the end of the war!
Thankfully, my father came home, but the diseases he had suffered weakened his body and in 1953, he died at age 38. I was 6 years old when he died. My two brothers were 11 and 3-1/2.
I have a message for Mr. Donald Trump. How dare you call my father a loser or a sucker! Weak, not strong! Both he and my mother were strong, much stronger than you, because he gave his life and she raised three boys without him!
You should be ashamed, and apologize to all our troops who have sacrificed so much! — Don Britt, Elk River