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“Rations were reduced by half and…half again,” Whitcomb wrote.“Tropical diseases took their toll until about half of our units were not able to function.” Whitcomb was one of the felled, catching malaria.

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Finally on April 8, defenders withdrew to Bataan’s very tip.

After an all-night journey, the southbound fugitives encountered northbound vehicles trailing white bedsheets.

Japanese guard’s clipped command broke the dawn silence on Corregidor, the tiny pollywog-shaped island afloat in the western approach to Manila Bay. ” he barked at the 200 ragtag men sleeping fitfully alongside the crossties of a rail line threading Corregidor’s eastern tail.

Like the other POWs facing their first full day of enemy captivity, Edgar Doud Whitcomb, 24, rose to his feet slowly and warily, not knowing what to expect.

Reaching its north shore, they sprinted for the Malinta Tunnel, Corregidor’s huge, bomb-proof command center. He had no way of knowing it then, but he had just escaped an infamous atrocity.

Bataan’s 70,000 captives—many suffering from wounds, malaria, and dysentery—were about to embark on a 70-mile death march.

ON MAY 10, 1942, after Ed’s POW contingent had finished repairing Kindley Landing Field, their captors marched them to a flat expanse on the south shore of Corregidor.

Known as the 92nd Garage Area, it had once been the motor pool for the 92nd Coast Artillery Regiment.

The Philippines was bracing for war when the 19th touched down at Clark in October 1941.

As Ed’s squadron flew reconnaissance near Japanese-held Formosa, though, he wondered how the putative enemy could presume to challenge them.

At 14, Ed had left his Hayden, Indiana, home one Sunday morning determined to see the outside world.


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