The Bataan Death March was one of the darkest events in recent history. Around 70,000 Filipino and American soldiers were forced by Japanese captors to walk to their deaths — taking their first step in Mariveles, Bataan, in Southern Luzon, Philippines, and traveling upwards to San Fernando, Pampanga in Central Luzon. Soldiers had to travel 60 kilometers on foot while experiencing intense hunger, dehydration, and severe physical and emotional abuse from Japanese soldiers along the way. Thousands of soldiers died during the ordeal, and only a few lived long enough to tell the tale.
One of those survivors is 94-year-old Lolo Gregorio, a World War II veteran who recently graced Reddit’s IAmA to share his stories and experiences as a young soldier during the worst conflict of the last century. Aided by his daughters, Gregorio was able to answer a few questions related to his life as a Bataan Death March survivor. Here are some of the questions.
Redditor Imagineallthepeeps asked, “Do you feel that the Philippines was abandoned at the time; i.e. thrown to the Japanese?”
Lolo Gregorio answered, “We had no support or good weapons, just rifles and artillery. The United States was justified in not coming to help sooner, there were more strategic reasons.”
Hariku asked, “What was your ranking in the military? Do you know or keep in touch with anyone from back then? Which country were you enlisted in?”
Gregorio answered, “I was a Staff Sergeant. I can’t remember anyone else from my unit, and I never saw them after I was released.”
Redditor ritchiehitler asked, “How were you captured? Was the treatment you got at the camp horrendous? We’re you delighted to hear about the A-bombs being dropped?”
Lolo Gregorio said, “We surrendered in Bataan. We were not mistreated at the camp. I was unable to see or hear others being mistreated.”
Paultheruler asked, “What was your initial reaction once you heard World War II had ended? Did that reaction change when you heard about the atomic bombs?”
Gregorio answered, “I was happy at the time that the war had ended. I felt that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were justified. It saved many lives, and it ended the war.”
PillarofWisdom asked, “What did you eat during the march?”
Gregorio replied, “On the march the Japanese government did not give us food. We ate what we could pick up. At night they allowed us to sleep in a field. When we wrote up we found a plantation of Jicama. That’s what we ate, but that was just our group.”
Gregorio’s Reddit account shares a video of him as proof of his experiences in Bataan. Footage below is of a local news network that interviews World War II soldiers about U.S. veteran compensations. You can see him on the 0:40 mark.
Read the rest of the AMA here.
[Image from lolo_gregorio/imgur and Wikimedia]