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Legacy of war in Asia

Philippine survivor of Bataan Death March, who ‘embodied the qualities of the greatest generation’, dies aged 100

More than 250,000 Filipino soldiers served with US troops in the second world war, including more than 57,000 who died

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 December, 2017, 12:05pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 December, 2017, 12:06pm

A San Francisco Bay Area man who survived the infamous 1942 Bataan Death March and symbolised the thousands of unheralded Filipinos who fought alongside US forces during the second world war has died. He was 100.

Ramon Regalado died December 16 in El Cerrito, California, said Cecilia I. Gaerlan, executive director of the Bataan Legacy Historical Society, which has fought to honour Regalado and others. She did not have a cause of death.

“He really embodied the qualities of the greatest generation and love for country,” she said.

Regalado was born in 1917 in the Philippines. He was a machine gun operator with the Philippine Scouts under US Army Forces when troops were forced to surrender in 1942 to the Japanese after a gruelling three-month battle.

The prisoners were forced to march some 105km to a camp. Many died during the Bataan Death March, killed by Japanese soldiers or simply unable to make the trek. Most the troops were Filipino.

He really embodied the qualities of the greatest generation and love for country
Cecilia I. Gaerlan, Bataan Legacy Historical Society

Regalado survived and slipped away with two others – all of them sick with malaria. They encountered a farmer who cared for them, but only Regalado lived.

Afterward, he joined a guerilla resistance movement against the Japanese and later moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to work as a civilian for the US military.

In his later years, he gave countless interviews to promote the wartime heroics of Filipinos, who were promised benefits and US citizenship but saw those promises disappear after the war ended.

More than 250,000 Filipino soldiers served with US troops in the second world war, including more than 57,000 who died.

The veterans have won back some concessions, including lump sum payments as part of the 2009 economic stimulus package.

In an October ceremony in Washington, DC, remaining Filipino veterans of the second world war were awarded the coveted Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian award.

Gaerlan said Regalado did not make the trip due to poor health, but he got his medal in December in an intensive care unit in Richmond, California.

He is survived by his wife Marcelina, five children and many grandchildren.