“I’m not going to die. I’m going to live and you are too, because God is going to give us strength.”*
On April 9th, 1942 the Japanese army in the Philippines forced its recently captured American and Filipino prisoners to begin a grueling 60 mile march across the island — the Bataan Death March.
Over the course of the journey, prisoners were given little to no food and water and no medical aid. Forced by the intense heat to drink reeking sludge out of buffalo wallows, men came down with dysentery and weakened rapidly. Those who fell behind or left the road to relieve themselves were beaten, bayoneted or beheaded and left to rot. Some were just shot out of hand for no discernible reason.
Those who survived the horrible journey ended up in equally horrible prison camps such as Cabanatuan. One of the survivors was a chaplain in the U.S. Army, Robert P. Taylor, whose story I hope you will read more about here and here.
Already the recipient of the silver star for risking his life repeatedly to evacuate wounded soldiers from the front while lines under heavy fire, Taylor survived Japanese prison camps in the Philippines, Taiwan, Korea and on a Japanese ‘Hell Ship’ that got bombed by American planes who didn’t realize that POWs were on board. Throughout his ordeal, he ministered to the despairing soldiers, risked his life to get them smuggled food and medicine and never gave up his faith. Lift a glass to this ‘unsung hero’ today and remember those unfortunate but brave victims of the Bataan Death March.
*Chaplain Robert Taylor to fellow prisoners