IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
December 15, 2011
Mr. Udall of New Mexico (for himself, Mr. Bingaman, Mr. Inouye, and Ms. Landrieu) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
To grant the Congressional Gold Medal to the troops who defended Bataan during World War II.
Congress makes the following findings:
Within hours after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the Imperial Japanese forces launched an attack on the Philippines, cutting off vital lines of communication to United States and Filipino troops assigned to the United States Army Forces in the Far East under the command of General Douglas MacArthur.
On December 8th,
1941, the 200th Coast Artillery Regiment, successors to the New Mexico National
Guardsmen who made up part of the famed
Rough Riders of the
Spanish-American War, were the
first to fire.
Despite being cut off from supply lines and reinforcements, the United States and Philippine Forces quickly executed a plan to delay the Japanese invasion and defend the Philippines against the Japanese invasion.
By April 1942, troops from the United States and the Philippines had bravely and staunchly fought off enemy attacks in Bataan for more than 4 months under strenuous conditions that resulted in widespread starvation and disease.
By maintaining their position and engaging the enemy for as long as they did, the troops at Bataan were able to redefine the momentum of the war, delaying the Japanese timetable to take control of the southeast Pacific for needed war materials. Because of the Bataan defenders' heroic actions, United States and Allied forces throughout the Pacific had time to regroup and prepare for the successful liberation of the Pacific and the Philippines.
On April 9, 1942, Major General Edward King, his troops suffering from starvation and a lack of supplies, surrendered the soldiers from the United States and the Philippines into enemy hands.
Over the next
week, troops from the United States and the Philippines were taken prisoner and
forced to march 65 miles without any food, water, or medical care in what came
to be known as the
Bataan Death March.
During this forced march, thousands of soldiers died, either from starvation, lack of medical care, sheer exhaustion, or abuse by their captors.
Conditions at the prisoner of war camps were appalling, leading to increased disease and malnutrition among the prisoners.
The prisoners at Camp O'Donnell would die at a rate of nearly 400 per day because of its poor conditions.
On June 6, 1942, the prisoners from the United States were transferred to Camp Cabanatuan, north of Camp O'Donnell.
Nearly 26,000 of the 50,000 Filipino Prisoners of War died at Camp O’Donnell, and survivors were gradually paroled from September through December 1942.
September of 1942 and December of 1944, American prisoners of war who survived
the horrific death march were shipped north for forced labor aboard
ships and succumbed in great numbers because of the abysmal conditions.
Many of the ships were mistakenly targeted by allied Naval forces because the
Japanese military convoys were not properly labeled as carrying prisoners of
war. The sinking of the Arisan Maru alone, claimed nearly 1,800 American
The prisoners who remained in the camps suffered from continued mistreatment, malnutrition, lack of medical care, and horrific conditions until they were liberated in 1945.
The veterans of Bataan represented the best of America and the Philippines. They hailed from diverse locales across both countries and represented a true diversity of Americans.
Over the subsequent decades, these prisoners formed support groups, were honored in local and State memorials, and told their story to all people of the United States.
The United States Navy has continued to honor their history and stories by naming 2 ships after the battle including 1 ship still in service, USS Bataan (LHD–5), in memory of their valor and honorable resistance against Imperial Japanese forces.
Many of the survivors of Bataan have now passed away, and those who remain continue to tell their story.
The people of the United States and the Philippines are forever indebted to these men for—
the courage and tenacity they demonstrated during the first 4 months of World War II fighting against enemy soldiers; and
the perseverance they demonstrated during 3 years of capture, imprisonment, and atrocious conditions, while maintaining dignity, honor, patriotism, and loyalty.
Congressional gold medal
The Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate shall make appropriate arrangements for the award, on behalf of the Congress, of a single gold medal of appropriate design in honor of the troops from the United States and the Philippines who defended Bataan and were subsequently prisoners of war, collectively, in recognition of their personal sacrifice and service to their country during World War II.
Design and striking
For purposes of the award under subsection (a), the Secretary of the Treasury (hereafter in this Act referred to as the Secretary) shall strike the gold medal with suitable emblems, devices, and inscriptions, to be determined by the Secretary.
Following the award of the gold medal in honor of the defenders and prisoners of war at Bataan under subsection (a), the gold medal shall be given to the Smithsonian Institution, where it shall be displayed as appropriate and made available for research.
Sense of the congress
It is the sense of the Congress that the Smithsonian Institution should make the gold medal received under paragraph (1) available for display at other locations, particularly such locations as are associated with the prisoners of war at Bataan.
Striking of duplicates
Under such regulations as the Secretary may prescribe, the Secretary may strike duplicates in bronze of the gold medal struck under section 2.
Selling of duplicates
The Secretary may sell such duplicates under subsection (a) at a price sufficient to cover the costs of such duplicates, including labor, materials, dies, use of machinery, and overhead expenses.
Medals struck pursuant to this Act are National medals for purposes of chapter 51 of title 31, United States Code.
Authorization of appropriations; proceeds of sale
Authorization of appropriations
There is authorized to be charged against the United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund, an amount not to exceed $30,000 to pay for the cost of the medal authorized under section 2.
Proceeds of sale
Amounts received from the sale of duplicate bronze medals under section 3 shall be deposited in the United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund.