Commemorating the 70th anniversaries of the defense of the Philippines,
the Bataan Death March, and the fall of Corregidor

To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Philippines, a series of events were held in Washington DC on April 24 and 25. Those who fought in the defense of the Philippines became POWs of Imperial Japan. The history of these survivors of jungle warfare, torture, abuse, starvation, and slave labor and of their success in reconciling with the Japanese is a timeless inspiration.

Former POWs of the Japanese who participated in the events

                Dr.  Lester Tenney, 92                   Mr. Joseph Alexander, 85                    Mr. Ben Steele, 94   

Mr. Don Versaw, 90
                 Mr. Roland K. Towery. 89

April 24

Tour of the National Guard Memorial Museum and luncheon hosted by the National Guard Association of the United States

Walking to the National Guard Memorial Museum

Ms. Anne Armstrong, Deputy Director, National Guard Educational Foundation, welcomed the group. Many POWs, including Dr. Tenney, had been members of National Guard before the war.

             With Deputy Director Armstrong               Dr. and Mrs. Tenney with  General David L. MCGinnis
                                                                                               Acting Asst Sec of Defense for Reserve Affairs


Wreath laying

National World War II Memorial,
Bataan and Corregidor Stone

(The wreath was donated by the American Legion.)



Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld gave the invocation

Patriot Guard joined



Youtube Video
Commemorating Bataan and Corregidor - Wreath Laying April 2012

Something like this restores your faith in human kind.
                                                                           --Don Versaw

This year, we had more teenagers when I’m wearing this cap, who come up to me and say, “Thank you for your service.”               --Joe Alexander

We want to be remembered as being true Americans who were willing to do anything for their country.                                  --Lester Tenney

Meeting with Ambassador of Japan

The group visited Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki at the Japanese Embassy. Former POWs expressed their gratitude for the Ambassador's support for the POW issue in the last few years that resulted in the Japanese government's two successful POW invitation programs in 2010 and 2011.

                 Official picture of the group in the office of Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki

Also Included in the picture are Mrs. Tenney, Mrs. Steele, Mrs. Olive Rosen whose late husband Col. Melvin Rosen was a Bataan Death March survivor, Mrs. Laura Gardonyi, granddaughter of POW Lt. Cmdr. Ernest Marion Wade, USN, MC, Ms. Mindy Kotler of Asia Policy Point who organized the 70th anniversary events, Ms. Kinue Tokudome of US-Japan Dialogue on POWs, and interns at Asia Policy Point. )

Meeting with Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell

The meeting was encouraging and positive. Secretary Campbell, with whom Dr. Lester Tenney has been working toward an honorable resolution of the POW issue, had every senior Japan official in the Department at the meeting. He stated that the POW issue was one of his priorities.

Commemoration Dinner Hosted by Veterans of Foreign Wars

The dinner was held at the Army and Navy Club. Supporters of the events, including US government officials and several descendants of POWs, joined the dinner.

Mr. Joe Davis, head of Public Affairs for the VFW who was host of the dinner,
gave welcome remarks

Mr. Dennis Halpin, professional Staff of the House Foreign Affairs Committee,
joined Lester and Betty Tenney, Mrs. Rosen and
Steve and Laura Gardonyi

At the end of the dinner, Dr. Tenney presented a certification of appreciation to Ms. Mindy Kotler for her hard work of organizing the 70th anniversary events. It was signed by all participating former POWs.

April 25

Roundtable on The Legacy of the Bataan Death March: Truth & Reconciliation

The meeting was held in the Rayburn House office building and was moderated by Mr. Timothy Ruse, a POW grandson and the author of We Volunteered: A Biography of Carl Robert Ruse, Survivor of the Bataan Death March and Prisoner of the Japanese, 1942-1945.

Congressmen Brian Bilbray and Mike Honda expressed their support for the POW issue. They are co-sponsors of H. Res. 333. which appreciates the Japanese government's effort to reach out to former American POWs of the Japanese for reconciliation and which encourages those Japanese companies that enslaved American POWs to emulate their government.

               Congressman Brian Bilbray (R-CA)                         Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA)

Luncheon with Disabled Veterans

The POWs shared their experiences and empathy with wounded warriors from Walter Reed Army Hospital. This private lunch was hosted by the Disabled American Veterans and the Heritage Foundation.


"The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) was honored to stand with five former World War II prisoners of war."

Reception at Capitol Hill Visitor Center

                                         Congressman Bill Huizenga (R-MI)

 Mr. William P. Greene, Outreach Director for the Speaker of the House, John Boehner

          Mr. Roland Towery, his wife and daughter Alice Gilroy               Ms. Laura Gardonyi and Ms. Kinue Tokudome
          with Congressman Max Thornberry and wife (left).




The legacy of these veterans and their fellow POWs will be preserved at the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor WWII Museum located in Wellsburg, WV.  Its goal is to create a world-class archive, educational and research center on the history and lessons of POW experience during WWII in the Pacific.   

Ms. Jane Kraina of the Brooke County Public Library, where the Museum is located, attended these events, representing the ADBC WWII Museum.

For more information visit ADBC WWII Museum


While in Washington DC, Ms. Kraina attended the funeral for former POW Abie Abraham at Arlington National Cemetery.  Learn more about Mr. Abraham.  

                                                              painting by Ben Steele

Host Committee

Mrs. Annette Lantos, Chairman, Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice
Mr. Robert  Dole, former United State Senator
LtGen. Wallace (Chip) Gregson, Jr., USMC (Ret.)  Former Commander, U.S. Marine Forces Pacific
Former Assistant Secretary of Defense
Major General Antonio Taguba, US Army (Ret.). The author of the Taguba Reort
Disabled American Veterans (DAV)
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean, Simon Wiesenthal Center
Ms. Linda Goetz Holmes, Author/historian,
Unjust enrichment, Guests of the Emperor,  Advisor to US government’s IWG (The Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group)
Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld,  Ohev Shalom Synagogue, Washington, DC
Mr. John Patterson, Co-founder and President Emeritus, Philippine Scouts Heritage Society
Ms. Kinue Tokudome, Founder/Executive Director, US-Japan Dialogue on POWs
Dr. Thomas Childers, Sheldon and Lucy Hackney Professor of History, U of Pennsylvania
ADBC WWII Museum, Wellsburg, West Virginia
John A. Glusman, Author, Conduct Under Fire: Four American Doctors and their Fight for Life as Prisoners of the Japanese, 1941-45
Timothy Ruse, Author, We Volunteered. A Biography of Carl Robert Ruse: Survivor of the Bataan Death March and Prisoner of the Japanese, 1942-1945
Veterans History Project of the Library of Congress

National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS)
American Legion
Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)
Vietnam Veterans of America
The Heritage Foundation

Honorary Host Committee

Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA)                      Senator Max Baucus (D-MT)
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA)             Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY)
Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN)                         Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA)
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX)                    Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Rep. Bob Filner, (D-CA)                         Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY)                Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA)
Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI)                      Senator James Inhofe (R-OK)
Rep. Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. (D-IL)           Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI)
Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)        Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY)
Senator John McCain (R-AZ)                
David L. McGinnis, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs
Rep. Jeff  Miller (R-FL)                           Rep. Stevan Pearce (R-NM)
Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-NY)              Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX)
Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA)                  Senator Jon Tester (D-MT)
Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)                    Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

Special support from Ms. Laura Hillenbrand, the author of

 "I am delighted to hear of the commemoration of such a landmark event in the Second World War, and join you in honoring the former prisoners of the Japanese, whose suffering has so long been overlooked in our history."

Support from a Japanese company

Ishihara Sangyo Kaisha (ISK) has offered its best wishes for the success of the 70th Commemoration events. More about  Ishihara Sangyo Kaisha, Ltd. (ISK)

* This is a project of Asia Policy Point, a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization in Washington DC.  Its Director, Ms. Mindy Kotler, worked hard to put these events together.

Visit the Facebook created by Ms. Kotler, “Commemorating Bataan and Corregidor.”

Donations to these 70th anniversary commemoration events are tax-deductible and can be made to Asia Policy Point.  Click on “Donate” on their site, American POWs of Japan.

List of Donors as of May 10. (More donations will be appreciated.)