Sixty years ago this week, the Bataan Relief
Organization was formed by the parents, wives,
brothers and sisters of our 200th Coast
Artillery (AA) men. Some of you were already on
the Bataan Death March and some of you had
escaped from Bataan to Corregidor, only to be
trapped and surrendered a month later.
Those were truly days of great anguish. After
the hard fought battles we did not know who was
still living and who was dead. Here at home we
had no way of knowing!
The Bataan Relief Organization was formed to
pressure our U.S. Defense Department to do
something to save our men. We knew that you were
starving and that you had been sent to the
Philippines with very little to fight with. Yet,
you managed to hold back the Japanese for five
Our government did nothing. You had nothing. We
prayed that there would be an exchange of
prisoners of war. Nothing! In spite of this, by
holding the enemy back you gave our country the
time it needed to regroup and prepare for the
Indeed, these were days of great anxiety. There
were few glimmers of hope. Days and nights
were spent in constant prayer to God on your
The two people who stand out in my memory are
the founders of the Bataan Relief Organization.
They are Doctor V. H. Spensley and Mr. Paul
McCahon. Both men had sons in the 200th. These
two men went to our Nation’s Capitol to beseech
our government to send help and save our men.
And although they lived to see the war end,
neither was able to welcome back their own son.
Dr. Spensley’s son, Homer, died in the
Philippines. Mr. McCahon died just before his
son, James, returned home.
The following poem was published in the BRO
Bulletin in December, 1944. It was written
by Lt. A. D. Sweeny and dedicated to the
unselfish and inspiring efforts of loved ones
“to keep alive the torch of freedom.”
Oh God, may I be worthy
Of those who die for me;
Of the land their blood keeps free?
I’ll keep their cherished faith;
Born of sacrifice and tears.
I’ll stand their watch for freedom
Through the strife of coming years.
Please God, may I never falter
For in this my duty’s plain;
To keep alive their flaming torch
So in death, they’ll live again.
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