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Posted at 07:55 AM on Saturday, March 8, 2008 by post10552WASHINGTON, March 4, 2008--The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW), an organization 2.3 million members strong, has endorsed legislation authored by U.S. Representative Tom Udall, D-N.M., to bestow Bataan Death March veterans with the Congressional Gold Medal.
"The coalescing support around this long-overdue tribute to the veterans who endured unimaginable hardships in Bataan is very heartening," said Udall. "I hope the VFW's endorsement of my legislation to finally honor these soldiers will translate into more Congressional support for the measure."
In a letter to Udall, Michael H. Wysong, Director of National Security and Foreign Affairs for the VFW, said, "...the United States is forever indebted to these brave men for their courage and perseverance in the face of extraordinary circumstances while maintaining dignity, honor, patriotism and loyalty. This resolution will go a long way in recognizing the special sacrifices made by these courageous men and will serve as a solemn reminder of the cost, in human terms, made by our military to preserve our freedom and liberty."
Click here to read VFW's letter to Udall.
On April 9, 1942, 12,500 American soldiers, suffering from a lack of supplies, malnutrition, malaria and starvation, fought bravely to provide US commanders with the breathing room needed to prepare for the full Pacific war. With no resources left to continue, and no reinforcements able to arrive, the troops were surrendered to the Japanese forces in the Philippines.
Immediately following their capture, the troops were forced to endure a torturous 65-mile, five-day march in tropical heat without food or water. Thousands perished along the way, and those who survived were held as prisoners of war in squalid encampments for almost three years.