Francis Snyder

Colon Loses Two Sons in the Philippines.

HODGE PODGE

Joe Ganger

 

Our local American Legion is named after local veterans who died in wars.

Jack Lewis and Francis Snyder of Colon had the misfortune to arrive in the Philippines in November of 1941. They did not survive and their families never knew what happened to them. One of the veterans who did live was J. S. Gray of Greenwell Springs, LA. His comments give us some idea of what might have happened to Jack and Francis. “After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, the Japanese headed back to the Philippines on their way to Australia.

Japanese tank moving forward on Bataan. Without anti-tank weapons, the PACR was helpless to stop an armored attack.

 

After they took out all the planes on the Philippines, the military there was trapped. The Navy needed them to delay the Japanese for at least sixty days, so they were told to fight and delay as long as they could, and that ships were on the way. What they weren’t told was that the ships which were on the way had been destroyed at Pearl Harbor. Gray and his cohorts held out for 120 days, during which time they were backed onto the Bataan Peninsula, where they earned the name, “Battling Bastards of Bataan”.  Unfortunately, they were fast exhausting their supplies and were forced to surrender, although another group on Corrigador held out for another month.

 

 

The March of Death. These prisoners were photographed while on the Death March. They have their hands tied behind their backs. The March of Death was about May 1942, from Bataan to Cabanatuan, the prison camp.

 

What then ensued was the Bataan Death March, where the survivors were forced to march to the prison camps. During the march, they were deprived of water, forced to empty their canteens, and were not allowed to refill them. Soldiers would fall into mud puddles to sip a little of the dirty water. It was essential that they stayed with their buddies in case they got weak, so that there would be someone to care for them. Those who fell behind were either killed or left to die. When they eventually got to the prison camp, the conditions remained horrible. The infirmary was known as the “zero ward”, because that was your chance of coming out alive. There was one water spigot in the camp and, after waiting hours in the line, the prisoners weren’t allowed to get their fill. They had to go back to the end of the line and wait again. As a further act of humiliation, the prisoners were forced to destroy American flags. However, they managed to save the stars from a flag, and one star was given to each of the fittest prisoners to safeguard. The prisoners were divided into groups of ten, with the warning that if one escaped, the other nine would be executed. One man in Gray’s group escaped, but he was captured as they were on the way to the execution, and they were spared. When the war ended, they were still held in captivity for quite a while. However, when supply planes dropped red, white and blue parachutes, they made a flag, using the forty eight stars, all of which had made it through the war. “