Patricio Ganio, 97

World War II veteran and Bataan Death March survivor

Portrait of Bevelyn Demps by Agnes Lopez for The Faces to Remember Project

Born in March, 1921 in Rizal, in the province of Nueva Ecija in the Philippines, Patricio Ganio was part of the force that fought the three-month Battle of Bataan in the Philippines against the Japanese in World War II. Roughly 80,000 Allied forces, including American and Filipino servicemen, surrendered in early April 1942 after defending the western edge of Manila Bay.

The surviving forces were taken captive and forced to march without food or water for 70 miles to prison camps in what would come to be called the Bataan Death March. Thousands died along the way, either from malnourishment or at the hands of the Japanese.

After his release, Ganio fought with guerrilla forces and later was with the U.S. Army’s 25th Division as a first lieutenant. Ganio was also awarded a Purple Heart.

As a commonwealth of the United States before and during the war, Filipinos were legally American nationals, and the 260,000 Filipinos who fought for the U.S. were promised all the benefits afforded to those serving in the armed forces of the United States. In 1946, Congress voted to pass the Rescission Act, stripping Filipino soldiers of the veteran benefits they were promised. It was only in 2009 that the U.S. authorized the release of a small, one-time lump-sum payment to eligible World War II Filipino veterans. In 2016, the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015 was passed to award a Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to the Filipino veterans of World War II, in recognition of their service.

After the war, Ganio had a 30-year teaching career and also worked for the Philippine embassy in Washington. In 2003 he moved to Jacksonville to be closer to his children.