On Day 8 we visited the Cabanatuan Memorial, which is located at the site of Cabanatuan Camp # 1. It holds special significance to five members of our group. Our dear friend, the late Harold Malcolm Amos, father of guest Blythe and grandfather of guest Jasmine, was rescued from this camp in what came to be known as “The Great Raid.” John’s brother, Henry Joseph McConnell, died there on July 26, 1942, less than two months after he arrived from Camp O’Donnell. And Steve’s father and Marcia’s father-in-law Walter Kwiecinski was a guest of the Emperor at Cabanatuan for sixteen months before being upgraded to prison camps in Japan.
First we went to Cabu (Pajota's) Bridge, where Filipino guerrillas held off hundreds of Japanese soldiers while the camp was being raided by American Rangers. Of course this is not the original bridge, but it is in or near the old location, and gives an idea of what the Filipino and Japanese soldiers faced.
Then it was off to the site of Cabanatuan Camp 1. The memorial is still closed for renovations, and the old wall with all of the names has been torn down, to eventually be replaced with a new one with corrections of spellings, and a few names added and others removed to agree with the latest records. Luckily, Steve had previously taken pictures of all of the old panels, so he could show John what his brother's name looked like on the original wall.
The West Point monument honoring all West Point graduates who died in the Pacific War.
Jasmine, Bluthe, John, Marcia, and Steve in front of the Cabanatuan marker.
These footings are the only "concrete" remains of the prison camp; they formed the base of the main water tower.
The wall which will someday once again contain the names of those who died at Cabanatuan POW Camp.
John standing in the approximate area of the Zero Ward where his brother passed away .
The following pictures is an instant favorite. It shows our photographer Ojie taking 91-year-old John back to the bus. John had just been to the location where his brother, nine years his elder, died almost 73 years ago. Who cares if there is a pile of construction material on the left? It's just one of those pictures that's worth a thousand words, don't you think?
And what trip to the Philippines would be complete without a stop at Jollibee?
Our group got in line and Tommy bought lunch. Judging by his expression, we might have emptied his wallet.
Tomorrow e visit the America Cemetery in Manila. Then half of our guests fly back home and the other half will fly with us to Tacloban, Leyte, for a two day extension.
Steve composed almost all of this blog (except the dinner) on the bus from Cabanatuan to Manila to help pass the time. At times his laptop was bouncing several inches off his lap, and thanks to the spell checker he was able to find most of his typing mistakes. Steve just wanted to get this posted before we got to the Manila Hotel so that he could relax before dinner. He apologizes for any mistakes and any photos which may not measure up to your standards or might seem redundant. It's difficult to take a bad photo with our new Canon camera, but obviously not impossible.
Steve and Marcia on the Rock