HONORING THE FALLEN & THE LAST MEN STANDING 77th Anniversary of the Bataan Death March & 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Leyte Gulf

On Saturday, April 6, 2019, Bataan Legacy Historical Society in partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration commemorated the 77th Anniversary of the Bataan Death March and the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Leyte Gulf at Golden Gate National Cemetery (GGNC) in San Bruno, CA.  Four of the few remaining WWII veterans were honored during the event:  David Tejada of the 12th Signal Co., Philippine Scouts and the lone Bataan Death March survivor, Alfonso Lamata of the 441st Counter Intelligence Corps and 2nd Filipino Infantry Battalion who participated in reconnaissance operations in Leyte and Luzon, Mickey Ganitch of the USS Pennsylvania who was in Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Leyte Gulf and Johnny Jongordon of the USS San Francisco who was also in Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Philippine Sea.  Among the fallen, foremost to be honored was Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, who as Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Ocean Areas, led the Allied Forces to victory during the major battles in the Pacific including the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest naval battle in history.  He signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender for the U.S. when Japan formally surrendered aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.  He is buried at Golden Gate National Cemetery.  Also honored during a Roll Call/Ringing of the Bell ceremony were 68 soldiers, mostly Filipinos, buried at GGNC and who fought during WWII in the Philippines.

Over 100 cadets from 6 San Francisco Unified School District High Schools, the University of California, Berkeley NROTC (a program that Admiral Nimitz established in 1926), the Golden Gate Young Marines, the Civil Air Patrol and Joint Service Color Guards (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guards) participated in a moving procession to honor the fallen and the last men standing.  Music was provided by the 191st U.S. Army Band with a 21-rifle salute by the 84th Training Division.  Keynote speaker was Vice-Admiral Linda Fagan, Commander of the Pacific Area and Coast Guard Defense Force West of the U.S. Coast Guard with remarks from Brig. General Windsor Buzza, Commander of the 91st Training Division.  Philippine Consul General Henry Bensurto, Jr. and Mexican Deputy Consul General Guillermo Reyes took part in the wreath laying.  Master of Ceremonies was Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Eldon Regua, former Deputy Commander of the U.S. 8th Army.