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Texas Honors 200th Men

EXTRACT

Full Senate Journal for

April 6, 2005

Return to Names Project

Clemens Kathman

Raymond Villa

 

THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS

79TH LEGISLATURE REGULAR SESSION

 

FORTY-FOURTH DAY

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 6, 2005

 

PROCEEDINGS

SENATE RESOLUTION 539

 

Senator Van de Putte offered the following resolution:

 

WHEREAS, The Senate of the State of Texas is pleased to honor the courageous men who kept themselves and their ideals of freedom alive in the Philippines and survived the infamous Bataan Death March; and

WHEREAS, Three days after the Japanese attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor, Japanese forces invaded the Philippine Islands in Luzon; the American and Filipino forces, with dwindling supplies and a lack of reinforcements, were overwhelmed by the intense assault by the Japanese, and many American and Filipino soldiers became prisoners of war; and

WHEREAS, After the surrender of Bataan, soldiers who were captured were forced to begin the Bataan Death March on April 10, 1942; they marched 55 miles to San Fernando in 140-degree temperature without food or water, and soldiers who later surrendered on Corregidor suffered a similar fate when they were transferred to Bataan; and

WHEREAS, Of the 76,000 prisoners who began the forced march, only 56,000 reached the prison camp alive, and many would later die from malnutrition and disease; some of the survivors of the death march were packed into the holds of cargo ships and sent to work as slave laborers in Japanese industries in Manchuria; and

WHEREAS, In total, 37 percent of all Pacific Theater prisoners of war died; the men who were able to survive the torturous Bataan Death March demonstrated exceptional strength and tenacity, and they have the admiration and respect of their entire nation; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the Senate of the State of Texas, 79th Legislature, hereby pay tribute to the courageous soldiers who overcame overwhelming odds and survived the Bataan Death March; and, be it further

RESOLVED, That a copy of this Resolution be prepared for them as an expression of high esteem from the Texas Senate.

 

SR 539 was read and was adopted by a rising vote of the Senate.

 

GUESTS PRESENTED

 

Senator Van de Putte was recognized and introduced to the Senate survivors of the Bataan Death March:  Clemens A. Kathman, Henry Grady Standley, Menandro Parazo, Joseph O. Lajzer, Louis B. Read, Ben Alpuerto, Abel Ortega, Mar Arradaza, Benjamin Austria, Ramon Villa, and Smith L. Green, joined by their families.

 

The Senate welcomed its guests.

 

REMARKS ORDERED PRINTED

 

On motion of Senator Shapleigh and by unanimous consent, the remarks regarding SR 539 were ordered reduced to writing and printed in the Senate Journal as follows:

 

Senator Armbrister:  About 1,200 survivors of the Bataan Death March are alive today.  Clem runs a Web site that recollects the experiences of such soldiers, who lived the Death March.  His experiences are chronicled in his new book.  As an octogenarian, he is one of the few who is still here to tell his story, I Was There, Charley!  Clemens A. Kathman, 88, better known as Clem, is a product of the Great Depression, who worked his way through college, only to have Hitler, Mussolini, and Tojo foul up his best-laid plans.  he was drafted March, 1941, assigned to the 200th Coast Artillery, which was sent to the Philippines in September, 1941.  On December 8, 1941, the Japanese bombed Clark Field after earlier destroying Pearl Harbor and Clem was in a shooting war.  After Bataan, the Death March, and three and a half years as a POW, he was liberated in September, 1945.  Fourteen months hospitalized and almost two years later, in July, 1947, he was discharged, married, and resumed work in the newspaper.  Here he moved through the transition from hot metal type printing to digital and photocomposition.  Clem retired in 1981 and lost his first two wives to illnesses.  Bachelorhood and Masonic fraternity filled his next 10 years.  He met his current wife on the Internet and they were married in July, 2002.  They live in Brenham, Texas.  Both dabble in writing.  I Was There, Charley! is his first book.

Ramon Villa was captured by the Japanese army in 1942.  He enlisted in the United States Army on April 15, 1941.  Ramon's first assignment was to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, and from there he was sent to Camp Wallace in Hitchcock, Texas, for 13 weeks of basic training.  He spent about three months in El Paso at Fort Bliss, as well.  Ramon was sent to the Philippines in September, 1941.  The battalion was stationed at Clark Field Air Base with the 200th Coast Artillery.  Ramon was on duty there when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and then Clark Field.  After that first attack, the field was bombed for about a week.  Japanese troops landed on Luzon, and the Americans prepared to retreat.  the battalion eventually reached the Bataan Peninsula.  After the surrender, Ramon marched to O'Donnell Prison.  The brutality was such that many prisoners died.  Malaria and dysentery plagued many of the POWs.  Ramon was sent to Bilibid Prison in Manila.  But the worst prison for Ramon was Cabanatuan.  There, Japanese guards would hit prisoners with rifles and stab them with their bayonets.  If a prisoner escaped, he was executed by firing squad or beheaded.  In October, 1944, some 1,100 prisoners were shipped to Japan.  The prisoners were placed in compartments full of coal.  Because of the lack of space, many prisoners had to sit atop other prisoners.  The trip lasted 19 days.  The ship left the POWs on Formosa, where they remained for three months.  The prisoners worked in the vegetable fields or the sugar mill.  Ramon also spent a year at Las Pinas in the Philippines constructing an airfield.  In February, 1945, Ramon was sent to a Japanese prison camp.  The trip to the prison camp took about two weeks and the POWs were given only one meal each day.  Many of the starving prisoners, including Ramon, stole food from the Japanese guards.  When the Japanese discovered the food theft, they did not feed the POWs for three days.  One day, the prisoners were on their way to a lake near the camp.  The prisoners were greeted by five American soldiers, who informed them that the war was over and that they were free.  The POWs went to town and celebrated all night.  The prisoners were sent to Yokohama in September, 1945, then to Manila, and finally to the United States.  Ramon had weighed 180 pounds when he enlisted in the Army; by the end of the war, his weight had dropped to 110.  Still, he was happy to have survived.  March 23, 1946, brought Ramon's final discharge from the military.  He had to spend time in hospitals and was isolated because he contracted a tropical disease.  Ramon has been married to Ygnacia for almost 60 years.  They have four sons and a deceased daughter.  Ramon attended the job training program for veterans.  In 1953, the Villas moved to Victoria, where he worked for Marshall Construction Company.

 

SENATE JOURNAL, Wednesday, April 6, 2005, pp. 803, 804, 808, 809.