The Rescue of the Doomed Ghost Soldiers of Bataan

Written and Performed by Anthony Zendejas

Narrator: (radio announcer stance) (wearing over coat and hat)

On December 7th and 8th 1941 //

The Empire of Japan launched attacks on Pearl Harbor, Malaya, Hong Kong, Guam, the Philippine Islands, Wake Island, and Midway Island. //

This was the beginning of a full scale war against Japan.

On December 23rd, General Douglas Mac Arthur orders the evacuation of Manila and the withdrawal of troops to Bataan. With no hope of victory in the Philippines, President Roosevelt orders MacArthur to leave for Australia. //

On April 9th, 1942 General Edward King surrenders Bataan. //

(Remove coat and hat)

POW Malcolm Amos (sitting on mat, face audience) (white cloth)

Youíre here too? They got you? Itís been nearly three years since we last defended Bataan. /// On that March of death the air smelled of rotting flesh and vomit as men that were too weak to go on were shot / bayoneted / run over by tanks / or beheaded. //// We became skeletons, walking scarecrows, staggering, falling and stumbling along with hardly any food or water. ////

This camp, is a place of terror, and torture, and hunger. Iíve seen my brothers die of all kinds of diseases and lack of food. Heck some of em, just plain give up, but not me. I had malaria, dysentery, and Dingi Fever. The doctor treated me with 4 doses of arsenic in the waiting room of death known as Zero Ward.

He believed I was going do die either way, but miraculously I lived.

Iím taking a stand to survive this place. If I could survive that 70 mile march of death, Iíll survive this too. Itís going to be hard to kill me cause Iím determined to live.

(Hmph disgusted)... JUST dug 10 graves today, Tomorrow Iíll gather the scattered limbs of my brothers, that the dogs dug up and Iíll re-bury them. Someone has to stand up for their dignity!! /////

My buddies Manny Lawton, William Hogeboom, Leon Lesner, and Clarence White, are on the list to leave on the last transport ship to Japan tomorrow on the Oryoko Maru. The ones that are left here now are too sick and wounded to travel.

Manny Lawton (at base of ladder) (in the hold of the Hell Ship Oryoko Maru)

One by one 1600 men descended the narrow stairway into the hold of the ship. The guards just packed us in cursing and beating us with brooms and rifle butts. The air became hot and we were boiling. Our sweaty bodies steamed. We were gripped with thirst and fear. A great cry of panic rose up from the hold, screams and moans of suffocating men resonated in the still air.

(panicked Screams of anguish )

Weíre all gonna die! Get us out of here! Help! help! air! water! air! water! AAaahhh!

The Japanese Guard threatened to shoot us in the hold if we didnít shut up. But his threats fell on the deaf ears of crazed, claustrophobic men.... At this moment Frank Bridget who was not the commanding officer in this hold, took a stand. // From the din his voice emerged.

Commander Frank Bridget (Climb Ladder ) (Speak with a firm soothing voice)

"Gentlemen we must all settle down. If each man remains calm and still it will be better for us all. The more you move the more energy you burn. That weakens you. The more you talk and yell the more oxygen you use up. That hurts everybody."

"Now hear this! ... The men in the far corners are suffocating! Take off your shirts and fan the air toward them." Thatís it, good... keep it up.

Looking up to top of ladder ... ĎThis could get me killed but I need to take this stand

"Wada- San Iím coming up to speak with you Wada- San. The lack of air is killing men down here. We will all die if you donít do something immediately. Let us put the worst cases on deck for a while, so that they may revive themselves and we need water Wada- San, water. Yes Wada San. (Bow head) Thank you."

Manny Lawton: (Looking over shoulder )

At that moment Frank Bridget rose to greatness. ... I donít know where he found the calmness, but Iím sure of this... He saved us with his voice. /////

Before we could make it out of Subic Bay, our ship was bombed by American Fighters. 300 died including Billy Hogeboom. /// We were transferred to the Enoura Maru and it was bombed by American fighters in Formosa. About 250 more POWs died / among them / Clarence White. We sat in the smashed hull for several more days before we were transferred to the Brazil Maru. Then, we sailed in the bitter cold waters of the China Sea. I watched so many die of pneumonia and diarrhea. We just stacked the bodies up like cord wood against the bulkhead. // Commander Bridget died on this third "Hell Ship."//// Out of the 1600 POWs that started this journey toward slave labor camps in Japan only 375 survived. /// We just arrived in Moji, Japan. Itís January 30, 1945.

I wish I had never left Camp Cabanatuan.

Captain Prince (Green shirt and hat)

All right Rangers
Captain Prince here! At ease men. Iíve just been given word from Col. Mucci that there are some 500 POWs at Camp Cabanatuan. Many are malnourished or emaciated, Weíve been given the assignment to rescue them. Some of them are survivors of Bataan. Over on Palawan Island 112 POWs were burned alive by the Japanese. We canít let that happen again. This is not a game. Many of you may not come back alive!!!

I only want volunteers.

Now Iím going to turn around but I want every man that wants to go on the raid to take one step forward.

(Turns around, waits five seconds, Turns back a little shocked) (Looks at assembled men with awe)


Good! You are all standing with me
, but first by order of Col. Mucci you are all to go to church to pray and swear before God that you will rescue those POWs or die trying.

Weíre marching 30 miles behind enemy lines... Alamo Scouts and Filipino Guerillas will lead us. We are due to depart January 28th.

My map shows areas where we could encounter resistance. Our biggest obstacle will be the last 800 yards of open ground of dried rice paddies that surround the camp.

An important part of this mission will be the use of the P-61, Black Widow Striker as a diversion. Now you have to keep in mind that our uniforms have changed from khaki to green so, you may not be recognized.

Freed POW: (step off mat )

Can you believe it? We are free! We are free!

If this is all a dream then donít wake me!

January 30, 1945. Iím going to remember that date for the rest of my life.

I tell you itís the date I was reborn.

When I first heard the gun shots I was terrified. I thought the Japanese had come to kill us. Machine guns were going off in every direction. Then, I ran into this soldier, this giant dressed in green, walking cool and calm as could be ...He was firing one direction so I decided to go the other way. Well /// he just knocked me down flat on my butt. And says, "What are you doing going that direction? Do you want to get yourself killed!" ////// Then I thought My God heís speaking English. "Who the heck are you?"

He says Lt. Murphy U.S. Ranger! // Head for the main gate!! go that way!! Anyone you see. Tell em to follow you out... Cause the Americans are here!

So I just started grabiní guys and holleriní

"The Americans Are Here! The Americans Are Here!

Come On! Weíre Free! Weíre Free! //// The Americans are HERE! ////

I was the first one out of that camp. ////

Col. Mucci, Captain Prince WOW! Those Rangers are my heroes. They took a stand and risked their lives to rescue me. Iíll always be grateful to them. I thought I was a forgotten ghost, but now they are calling ME a hero.

I look forward to getting home, ///// but my joy is mixed with sorrow by the thought of losing my friends, and the thousands we are leaving behind in this soil forever.

(Walk away from mat reflecting) (Break fourth wall)

 Anthony:

61 years later: POW Malcolm Amos said to me "Son there is nothing in all the world that tastes better than freedom."

Ranger Leader Captain Prince told me "Iím glad I had the opportunity to help give those men a second chance at life."

POW Joseph Cassin put it very simply "I am a true Survivor"

I dedicate this performance to carry on the legacy of the survivors and victims of Bataan, and those who risked their lives to rescue them.

To all the Ghost Soldiers of Bataan and Corregidor I Stand And Salute YOU.



 

*Anthony won 4th place in the State of Washington history project competition.


From Anthony to this website

It means a lot to me that I will be able to reach out to people in Japan. It was an honor to meet Captain Prince in person and to speak to many POWs over the phone. They were very kind to me and made feel like it was my job to tell their story well. I know that this project is larger than any competition and I will try to continue to find ways to perform my play for others. I hope that what I have done will be a good influence. I never would have believed that I could be part of such an awesome project but I have learned so much and I don't want their story to die. Thank you for doing this for me and the POWs.       

Thank You so much, Anthony