Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Day 7- Return to Corregidor

Mr. Carringer standing by marker KM00.

Our ride to the island of Corregidor

Mr. Ehrhart standing in front of the island where he fought.

Mr. Jorgenson stands near the location where he was shot and describes that day.

Mr. Ehrhart with his students Katie and Tim.

An exciting morning of travel quickly gained significant emotional weight as we traveled to a location that Mr. Carringer had permanently ingrained into his mind. Although the surroundings had drastically changed, he still wanted to see a place in Mariveles that will be forever etched in his memory. His students, Daniel and Christianne, cautiously pushed him in his wheel chair until they arrived at the KM00 marker. At this site, Mr. Carringer began a horrific and grueling journey that would last nine long days, a journey that we now refer to as the Bataan Death March.

After we honored this site, we boarded an outrigger boat and made our way to the Island of Corregidor. This island is home to the most preserved battlefield of WWII. We are honored to be here with Mr. Collier, Mr. Ehrhart, and Mr. Jorgenson, who all served on the island. Today we spent the whole afternoon touring different parts of the island where we saw remnants of what was once a military oasis. Golf courses, bowling alleys, movie theatres, and swimming pools once occupied this beautiful island. After the war, all that remained was crumbled ruins. We traveled around Corregidor viewing old barracks, movie theatres, artillery and many other buildings that had been destroyed during the war. Our imaginations ran wild as we tried to encompass the magnitude of military force that this island contained during the 1940s. The veterans told us fearful stories that depicted the horror  they felt seventy years ago.
Today we saw many places of great significance for our veterans. One of these places was the first POW camp on the island after the Japanese arrived. We were also able to see the barracks where some of our veterans stayed, the Milinta Tunnel, and some smaller islands that our veterans fought on. While touring the island we were able to stand with Mr. Jorgenson in the same area were he was shot during the war. Tears filled his eyes as he told us about his injury, and his promise to give God his life if he lived through the war. Visiting these locations made for an emotional day and reminds us of the sacrifices made by our veterans.

For the next two days we will continue to explore the island of Corregidor, which was once home to 9,000 U.S. troops. One important aspect that has added depth to our trip experience is the other members of our tour group. We, along with other guests, are touring with Steve and Marcia Kwiecinski of Valor Tours. Included in our group are two representatives from the U.S.-Japan Dialogue on POWs. These women from Japan work to educate their people about WWII and to promote peace with the United States. Additionally, we have traveling in our group three descendants from the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor. It has been a joy to getting to know these additional tour members as we travel throughout the Philippines. Many of these additional members have great knowledge and insight into the battles that took place in the Philippines.
Jonathan Wahl and Weston Wiebe

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