THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS
79TH LEGISLATURE — REGULAR SESSION
SENATE RESOLUTION 539
Senator Van de Putte offered the following
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.
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
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
SENATE JOURNAL, Wednesday, April 6,
2005, pp. 803, 804, 808, 809.