Survivor of Bataan Death March was POW for 3 years
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS October 2, 2013 11:18PM
Updated: November 5, 2013 6:05AM
SANTA FE, N.M. — Vicente Ojinaga, a New Mexico native who survived World War II’s infamous Bataan Death March, has died at his Santa Fe home. He was 95.
Born in Santa Rita, Mr. Ojinaga enlisted in the military a few years after graduating high school and was sent to the Philippines.
He became one of 75,000 Filipino and American soldiers who were taken captive by the Japanese when U.S. forces surrendered in the province of Bataan and Corregidor Island in April 1942.
“When they told us to surrender, we didn’t want to,” Mr. Ojinaga told the Santa Fe New Mexican in a 1997 interview. “I felt like I had betrayed my country.”
In all, tens of thousands of troops were forced to march about 65 miles in what became known as the Bataan Death March. As many as 11,000 died along the way. Many were denied food, water and medical care, and those who collapsed during the scorching journey through Philippine jungles were shot or bayoneted.
Ojinaga was held captive for 3½ years and said he weighed about 95 pounds — approximately half what he did before enlisting.