SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5/AP) — A San Francisco Bay Area man who survived the infamous 1942 Bataan Death March and symbolized the thousands of unheralded Filipinos who fought alongside American forces during World War II has died at age 100.
Ramon Regalado died Dec. 16 in El Cerrito, said Cecilia I. Gaerlan, executive director of the Bataan Legacy Historical Society, which has fought to honor Regalado and others like him.
In October, Regalado told KPIX 5 it was an honor to fight alongside U.S. soldiers as a machine gunner for the Philippine Scouts.
“I am very proud to defend democracy,” Regalado said.
But after months of fighting, the Japanese took the Philippines.
Starving and diseased, Regalado and thousands of others soldiers were forced to walk more than 60 miles along what became known as the Bataan Death March.
“Yeah, because we sacrificed together for four months without food, no supplies,” Regalado said.
He would escape and later rejoin the military, ultimately driving the Japanese out. But President Truman would revoke U.S. benefits promised to Filipino soldiers.
And it would not be until this year that Congress would finally honor them.
A few weeks ago, at the age of 100, Regalado was presented his Congressional Gold Medal in his hospital bed, surrounded by family.
“It was bittersweet. Well-deserved, long-awaited, and he got to see it” said his daughter, Rosalinda Regalado Hernandez.
“He made it to 100. And still, even though he was aging, ailing, he was still fighting and I think he was fighting for us,” his daughter said.
On December 16, Regalado died. His family says he left behind a legacy of bravery. And he fought to make sure high school students would learn about the Bataan Death March.
“It will finally be in the history books,” said Regalado’s daughter.
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