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President Kennedy Honors Bataan Day

Apr. 8, 1963 - President Kennedy issued a statement today commemorating the 21st anniversary of the battle of Bataan and Corregidor. In honor of Bataan Day tomorrow, he expressed the nation’s gratitude to the “Filipinos and Americans on Bataan who struggled to the end with magnificent valor against overwhelming odds.” Despite their lack of supplies, American and Filipino forces managed to fight the Japanese for three months at Bataan, engaging them initially in a fighting retreat southward. As the combined forces made a last stand, the delay cost the Japanese valuable time and prevented immediate victory across the Pacific. The force on Bataan, numbering some 76,000 Filipino and American troops, was the largest army under American command ever to surrender. Soon afterwards, U.S. and Filipino prisoners of war were forced into the Bataan Death March (pictured), which was characterized by severe physical abuse and wanton killings. Approximately 10,000 men died. After the war, the Japanese commander, Gen. Masaharu Homma and two of his officers, Maj. General Yoshitaka Kawane and Col. Kurataro Hirano, were tried for war crimes and sentenced to death. Homma was executed in 1946, while Kawane and Hirano were executed in 1949.

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