Philippine Scout, Army Veteran shares story of how his escape from Bataan Death March

Amado Ante enlisted with the Philippine Scouts in February 1941 at the age of 22. Just five months later, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a military order calling all organized military forces in the Commonwealth of the Philippines into active service of the United States Armed Forces. Ante responded to the call and was assigned to the 12th Quartermaster Regiment, Company B.

Image: Amado Ante in WWII uniformJust hours after the Pearl Harbor attacks, Japanese forces invaded the Philippines. Ante would deploy to Bataan in support of the fight against Japan. After months of fighting, Ante’s unit had to retreat to the Bataan Peninsula. Ante’s regiment was surrounded with nowhere to escape.

To save lives, the commanding general surrendered the troops. Ante, along with approximately 75,000 Filipino and American Soldiers, was rounded up by the Japanese and forced to march some 65 miles from Mariveles, on the southern end of the Bataan Peninsula, to San Fernando.

The men were divided into groups of approximately 100, and what became known as the Bataan Death March typically took each group around five to seven days to complete. The marchers made the trek in intense heat and were subjected to harsh treatment by Japanese guards.

Ante had hidden a little sugar under his belt to sustain his survival. On the fifth day of the march, Ante was stricken with malaria. His feet were badly swollen, and he could no longer walk. When the Japanese guards were on relief duty, his fellow soldiers urged him to escape immediately or risk death. Ante’s comrades pushed him into a ditch where he crawled into the bushes and laid low until dark. Later that night he was found by local civilians, who provided him with food, shelter and medical care. He stayed with them for three months until he was fully healthy.

Ante reenlisted and joined the guerilla movement until General Douglas MacArthur’s forces liberated the Philippines in 1945. Ante received various military medals including the Bronze Star. At the age of 99 on Nov. 10, 2017 Ante was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award in the United States.

Ante receives care through the San Francisco VA Health Care System’s home-based primary care program (HBPC). The program provides comprehensive care for Veterans with complex medical, social and behavioral conditions.

Ante and his family have been complimentary of the care and services. “The HBPC program has been beneficial for my father; I’m certain it’s added years to his already long life,” said Ante’s son Steve.

For the staff, it’s an honor and privilege to care Ante and other Veterans.

“My work is very meaningful to me,” said nurse practitioner Cindy Cosbey. “I am providing personalized primary care, with the goal of supporting our most fragile Veterans in their homes. I am so proud of my multidisciplinary team who work very hard on behalf of our Veterans.”

About the author: Jeremy Profitt  is a public affairs specialist with the San Francisco VA Health Care System.


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