April 9, 1942: The Fall of Bataan
“Courage is a quality God has seen fit to dispense with utmost care.
The men of Bataan were His chosen favorites.”
– Major General Edward P. King, Jr.
Commanding General, USAFFE (Bataan Peninsula)
There was no greater moral and ethical dilemma than what Major General Edward P. King, Jr. had to wrestle with. A humbling defeat and a more humiliating surrender to the enemies were unthinkable and unconscionable for the mighty American forces. But the inevitable was staring contemptuously on the face of General King.
Days leading to the surrender, the remaining USAFFE units in Bataan Peninsula were reeling in losses in all fronts, being bereft with the necessary provisions, logistics and support. Although their spirits reckoned they can still put up a gallant stand, that alone can only delay and not defeat the impending reality.
At 9 o’clock in the morning of April 9, 1942, Major General Edward P. King, Jr., together with Colonel Everett C. Williams (the one who covered his face with right arm), Major Wade Cothran, and Major Achille C. Tisdelle, met Major General Kameichiro Nagano to negotiate the terms of surrender and cessation of hostilities. General King was told wait for Colonel Motoo Nakayama, the senior operations officer of the 14th Army under General Masaharu Homma. After intense negotiations, the hostile Nakayama accepted the unconditional surrender of the Bataan forces.
At the back of Balanga Elementary School, a memorial was erected at the exact site where General King and his staff formally surrendered. The memorial hopes that it not be a “reminder of defeat but a symbol of freedom’s triumph over foreign aggression.”