Philippines: Ex-US Navy Seals join in Death March Commemoration

Karl Romano
Capas, Philippines

Actors re-enact scenes from the Bataan Death March at the Capas National Shrine where the three-day Freedom Trail March ended on Sunday, March 3, 2019. (Karl Romano/BenarNews)


Filipino soldiers joined by volunteers and former U.S. Navy Seals cross a bridge along the MacArthur Highway heading to the Capas National Shrine, March 3, 2019. (Karl Romano/BenarNews)


Intense heat cannot stop a former U.S. Navy Seal, March 3, 2019. (Karl Romano/BenarNews)


Actors dressed as Japanese, Filipino and U.S. soldiers check their mobile phones at they wait for the marchers to arrive at the Capas National Shrine, March 3, 2019. (Karl Romano/BenarNews)


March participants pose for a selfie, March 3, 2019. (Karl Romano/BenarNews)


Soldiers try to keep cool, March 3, 2019. (Karl Romano/BenarNews)


Filipino youths smile with former U.S. Navy Seal Mathew Melancon, a double amputee who served in Afghanistan, March 3, 2019. (Karl Romano/BenarNews)


Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana joins troops partaking in a traditional “boodle fight” dinner, March 3, 2019. (Karl Romano/BenarNews)


Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana lights a torch signifying the completion of the three-day Freedom Trail March, March 3, 2019. (Karl Romano/BenarNews)


Former U.S. Navy Seals and volunteers fold the American flag after completing the march, March 3, 2019. (Karl Romano/BenarNews)

About 1,000 Filipino soldiers, volunteers and ex-U.S. Navy Seals braved the tropical sun in a three-day a 160-km (100-mile) walk commemorating the Bataan Death March, one of World War II’s most infamous American defeats.

The Freedom Trail March started in the town of Mariveles in Bataan province on Friday, recreating the slow and agonizing march of about 80,000 Filipino and American soldiers that began on April 9, 1942, and took them to the province of Tarlac in Luzon.

Local war historians report anywhere between 5,000 and 18,000 Filipino soldiers and 500 and 650 of their American counterparts died during the march after suffering severe physical abuse or being killed by their Japanese captors.

A shrine to those who died was built in Tarlac province, north of Manila, where many were buried.

Although the “death march” reminds Filipinos and American soldiers of the defeat against and the atrocities of the Japanese soldiers during its occupation of the Philippines, it also “commemorate the ideals, principles exemplified by our veterans by those who were at the death march,” said Ernesto Carolina, the administrator of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office.


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