April 3, 1942, was a day that actually impacted my family—at least indirectly. This was the day the Japanese began their all-out assault on U.S. and Filipino troops at Bataan, not far from where my father was stationed in the Philippines on the island of Corregidor.
Most people recall the Japanese bombing at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. On that day, my father was just coming back to his patrol boat from shore leave in Manilla when he noticed everything in the bay was dark—lights out, everywhere. His shipmates greeted him with news of the Pearl Harbor bombing. The U.S. was officially at war.
The Japanese found their new target the very next day—the Bataan Peninsula at Manilla Bay. Bombs and bullets rained from the sky. I recall my father telling me it sounded like popcorn popping, all of those bullets pinging against the ship. Can you imagine what it felt like, knowing the invading forces wanted only one thing—to kill you?
It wasn’t until April 3,1942 that the Japanese ratcheted up their continued attack. From nine in the morning until three in the afternoon, a 100-aircraft bombardment “turned the Mt. Samat stronghold into an inferno” according to the Chinese Daily Mail.
Ultimately the Japanese took approximately 60,000 Filipino and 15,000 American prisoners of war, leading them on the Bataan Death March where so many men died along the way.
My father’s naval unit had been moved to the nearby island of Corregidor, but received daily bombardments. With the troops weakened by ration shortages and disease, they knew it was only a matter of time before surrender. That day came about a month later. They were sent on the same path as those before them, taken from one overcrowded camp to another, treated harshly, put on a starvation diet and pressed into forced labor, finally to survive a death sentence at the end of the war only through liberation by Allied forces.
The men who withstood the brutality of war were certainly heroes. They’re the kind of men romance writers dream up: strong, brave, loyal, and willing to fight for what they believe. My heart swells with pride knowing my father was one of them, even as it twists with compassion for all that he and those with him endured.
I hope you enjoy my contribution to the Pony Express collection, My Dear Adora. Along with Adora, you’ll meet Chip Nolan who rescues the saddle pack his little brother lost after a robbery. Intent on hand-delivering every missive, the last one is to Adora from her loving parents. After carrying the letter close to his heart for months, Chip is already half in love with Adora when he finds her—just in time to rescue her from a fortune seeker.
Maureen Lang writes stories that celebrate a mix of God’s love, history, and romance. She is the author of sixteen novels and five novellas, and has been a finalist for Christy, Carol and Rita awards. She lives in the Midwest, is a married mother of three, and caregiver for her adult son with Fragile X Syndrome. Visit her at www.maureenlang.com