Ponciano Mauricio, 100

World War II veteran and Bataan Death March survivor

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

Ponciano “Poncho” Mauricio 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. Mauricio served in the United States Armed Forces of the Far East from October, 1941 through June, 1946, attaining the rank of major.

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.

Mauricio became an engineer and retired in 1980 from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He resided in Silver Spring, Maryland from 1948 until 1985, when he moved to Cape Coral, Florida.