S.F.: 21-Gun salute, flyovers commemorate 81st anniversary of Bataan Death March


A 21-gun salute rang out and planes roared over the Presidio in a ceremony April 15 commemorating the 81st anniversary of the Bataan Death March.

Organized by the Bay Area-based Bataan Legacy Historical Society, the event was held in remembrance of the infamous World War II massacre in the Philippines. The Bataan Death March was a horrific 63-mile trek Japanese soldiers forced upon 78,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war in the aftermath of the Battle of Bataan.

This year’s commemoration, held at the San Francisco National Cemetery at the Presidio, was attended by Filipino and American descendants of the soldiers who fought in World War II in the Philippines at the Battle of Bataan.

Cecilia Gaerlan of the historical society organized the event. Her father, Luis, survived the Death March and lived until he was 94. He died in 2014.

Representatives of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard took part in the event, along with others including San Francisco Sheriff Paul Miyamoto, sheriff’s deputies, police officers and firefighters from across the Bay Area.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta attended the event. Bonta’s mother was a survivor of a massacre of civilians in Los Banos in February 1945 in the Philippines during World War II.

The American Legion Riders Chapter 105 rendered a 21-gun salute and the San Francisco Sheriff’s Air Squadron did a flyover as part of the ceremony. A private nonprofit, Memorial Squadron, did a flyover at the end of the event.

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