US Coins

Philippines defenders could get congressional gold medal

Japanese soldiers stand guard over American war prisoners just before the start of the Bataan Death March, soon after these prisoners’ April 9, 1942 capture.

Image courtesy of the United States Marine Corps.

U.S. and Philippine troops who defended the Philippine islands of Luzon and Corregidor during World War II would be recognized with a congressional gold medal under legislation introduced April 12 in the U.S. Senate.

S. 1079 was introduced by Sen. Martin Heinreich, D-N.M.

Bataan Peninsula, on Luzon, and Corregidor Island fell to the Japanese in 1942, and were subsequently retaken by American and Allied troops in 1945.

American troops on Bataan surrendered to the Japanese on April 9, 1942, with what is known as the Bataan Death March commencing soon after.

After the surrender, some 75,000 American and Filipino soldiers taken captive by Japanese soldiers were forced to march anywhere from 65 miles to 140 miles to confinement camps, where food, water and medical attention were scarce. Thousands died on the march, and more in the camps.

Corregidor Island, at the entrance of Manila Bay in the Philippines, surrendered to the Japanese on May 6, 1942, marking the fall of the Philippines. At both Bataan and Corregidor, U.S. forces were severely outmanned by Japanese forces.

Bataan was retaken after intense fighting between Jan. 31 and Feb. 21, 1945. Corregidor was retaken following fighting from Feb. 16 to 26, 1945.

The enabling legislation would allow Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to authorize 3-inch and 1.5-inch bronze duplicates of the gold medal to the general public.

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