Thursday, April 21, 2016

RIP Maj. Jesse Baltazar, Bataan Death March Survivor and a True Warrior

Filipino Bataan Death March Survivor
and American Patriot

The Naked Soldier

Paperback: 268 pages
Publisher: First Edition Design eBook Publishing ()
ISBN-13: 978-1506901664
Kindle: 6677 KB
Publisher: First Edition Design Publishing (March 11, 2016)

Available on Amazon

Never Stopped Fighting for Freedom and His Fellow Vets

Just a few days after I posted about the Bataan Death March, one of its few remaining survivors, Maj. Jesse Baltazar, died of cancer on April 12. And he had just published his memoir. He was 95.

Jesse Baltazar was a Filipino student in aviation school in Manila when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. The next day they attacked the Philippines, and latter that day he qut class to join the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE). He served as staff sargeant in the 71st Battalion, and was in the Battle of Bataan. His leg was injured in an air raid in March. He was still recovering when he, along with 76000 other soldiers, were taken prisoner by the Japanese and forced into the infamous 66 mile Death March on April 9.

On the third night of the March, delirious with pain, he managed to escape. Civilians smuggled him home, on a boat, through swamp. He then joined the Philippine resistance.

After the war he joined the US Air Force, one of the first Filipinos to do so. He served in the Air Force for 20 years, mostly in the Office of Special Investigations, where his talent for languages was prized. He was fluent in 5 languages, including Korean and Russian. He was stationed in Korea during the war and questioned Korean and Chinese prisoners. Later he was a Russian interrogator in Berlin, questioning refugees and defectors.

He retired from the Air Force in 1966 with the rank of Major, and then went to work at the State Department, stationed in Vietnam and later in Central America.

Major Baltazar received a Bronze Star for gallantry in World War II, and in 2015, received a very belated Purple Heart. His later years were devoted to championing the cause of fellow Filipino World War II veterans who are denied benefits by the 1946 Rescission Act, one of the greatest injustices done to men who served under the US Flag.

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