‘I Have Returned’

Assuming the persona of General Douglas MacArthur, Walter Ruehlig (standing left) congratulates Death March survivors Manuel Gavino (standing right) and Edward Abinsay during the 69th anniversary celebration of the Fall of Bataan. Photo by Cynthia Ruehlig

After a three-month battle to defend the last bastion of Philippine democracy at the Bataan Peninsula, General MacArthur escaped by boat during WWII promising “I Shall Return” to liberate the Philippines.

Bataan was captured by the Japanese Imperialists on April 9, 1942, in the largest surrender in American and Filipino military history. Many died when the 72,000 starving and disease-ridden POWs were forcibly transfered from Bataan/Corrigidor to Capas, Tarlac, in what is now known as the Bataan Death March.

After two years of fighting in the Pacific, General MacArthur fulfilled his promise. MacArthur accepted the Japanese surrender on September 2, 1945. There are 9 known Death March survivors living in East Contra Costa County. The Fall of Bataan celebration, sponsored by the Filipino-American Association, Inc. of Pittsburg, was held April 9, 2011 at Humphrey’s Restaurant, Antioch.

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