For the commemoration of the 72nd anniversary of the fall of Bataan, we are sharing excerpts from veterans of the Second World War. In With the U.S. 57th Infantry Regiment, Sgt. Glicerio V. Valdez (Philippine Scout – U.S. Army) recounts his regiment’s struggle during the Battle of the Bataan, their loss, and his subsequent inclusion to the Bataan Death March. Sgt. Valdez survived the march, as well as his stay at the Camp O’Donnel Concentration Camp. [Excerpted from War Memoirs of the Alcala Veterans by Alberto Marquez, published with the permission of New Day Publishers.]
Before the war, I was with the 57th Infantry Regiment, Philippine Scouts–U.S. Army, at Camp McKinley, (now Fort Bonifacio). When war broke out on December 8, 1941, our regiment was alerted of an impending enemy attack. Two days later, we received orders from higher command to move out to Guagua, Pampanga, to become a reserve force of the USAFFE.
After the landing of the Japanese Imperial forces on the beaches of La Union on December 22, 1941 the invaders, supported by powerful tanks and armored cars waged successful attacks against our forces guarding the towns and highways of Pangasinan and Tarlac, thus pushing the USAFFE troops toward the south.
On December 25, 1941 our regiment was ordered to pull out and to proceed immediately to the town of Porac, Pampanga, to engage the advancing enemy troops and at the same time to cover the withdrawal of our already decreasing forces from the north.
The following day, we had our first encounter with the enemy. We fought valiantly with our rifles and machine guns against the rifles, tanks and armored cars of the enemy. After two days of fierce fighting, we were forced to withdraw leaving behind several casualties. We hiked to the province of Bataan reaching Mabatang, Abucay, on New Year’s Day of 1942. Immediately, we established the Mabatang–Abucay Line, the USAFFE’s main line of resistance in Bataan. The line was provided with wire entanglements and land mines were planted along it in order to impede the advance of the enemy.
To strengthen our defense, our regiment organized the Sniper Company of which I was a member. Its duty was to keep watch on enemies that would penetrate the line. Our troop made several encounters with the enemy especially during night time when they attacked.
One night, the line guarded by our 3rd Battalion was penetrated by the enemy. This happened because the guards were very tired and sleepy. They had no adequate sleep for 23 days since the time they arrived at Abucay!
Heavy fighting raged on after the incident in our effort to retake the line and troops of the Philippine Army came to reinforce us. It took several days of fierce fighting before the line was finally retaken, resulting into the annihilation of hundreds of enemies and the loss of several of our men.
On January 23, 1942 our regiment moved to Pilar, Bataan, to have a brief rest. After three days, we were ordered to proceed to Aniasan Point, Morong, Bataan, to engage the enemy that landed there. The enemies were deployed at the beach while we were inland about 400 meters away. The battle continued for 15 days producing casualties on our side but the enemy had more. At the height of the battle, a Jap bayoneted my knee and I retaliated by gunning him down, I was disabled for a few days before I was able to walk again.
After the battle at Aniasan Point, our outfit was ordered to move to Signal Hill, Mariveles, Bataan, to rest and later we became a reserve force. We stayed there quite long until the surrender of Bataan on April 9, 1942. Immediately after the fall of Bataan; our troops dispersed for many of us refused to surrender to the enemy. I left Mariveles together with a few comrades who wanted to escape with me. The following day, while we were passing the town of Balanga, we were confronted by a group of Japanese soldiers with fixed bayonets. After learning that we were USAFFE men, they made us join other prisoners assembled in the town plaza.
Two days later, we prisoners were ordered to hike to a place unknown to us. On the way, we were brutally treated by our captors. We were given only little food to eat and the weak and sickly were either bayoneted or shot to death without mercy. Those who got out of the line to find food or water to drink along the road were likewise clubbed or shot to death.
On the fourth day, we reached San Fernando, Pampanga and from there we were taken to Capas, Tarlac by train then finally to Camp O’Donnel of the same town. In the prison Camp, we were housed in bamboo barracks too small to accommodate the thousands of prisoners. We were given only little food to eat in every meal. We were not allowed to take a bath although there was a creek nearby. Finally, there was an outbreak of dysentery, typhoid and beriberi in camp that resulted to the death of thousands of prisoners. During the height of the epidemic, I got seriously ill. My fever was so high that I became delirious for Several days. I was not given any medical; attention by our captors and it was only by God’s will that I survived the crisis.
I was released from O’Donnel in August of the same year and I went home to Alcala to recuperate. A few months after my recovery, I helped fellow veterans organize the Alcala Squadron, an underground organization that helped maintain peace and order in our town. We also helped by observing the activities of the enemy and the people working under them.
The long-awaited American Liberation Forces finally landed in Dagupan beach on January 9, 1945. After their landing, fighting raged on in towns all over the province. In Alcala, our guerrilla outfit fought the remnants of the Japanese army that wanted to cross the Agno River to Alcala. We fought them in the river bank of barrio Laoac, Anulid, San Vicente and Pindangan.
I did not stay long with the Alcala guerrilla because I soon reported to the military control of the US army at Calasiao, Pangasinan. After all former Philippine Scouts of Pangasinan had reported, we were reorganized and thereafter sent to Baclaran to perform MP duties. We held these police duties up to September 1948. In October 1948, we were given an examination to qualify for the regular army and luckily, I was one of those who passed the test. So, then I became one of the regular personnel of the US Army.