With a mixture of wit and gravity, Bataan Death March survivor and Carlsbad resident Dr. Lester Tenney recounted his World War II experiences for members of the De Anza Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution at its monthly luncheon meeting held Nov. 2 at Lomas Santa Fe Country Club.
On April 9, 1942, 58,000 Filipinos and 12,000 American soldiers surrendered to the Japanese. Dr. Tenney, now 92, of the 192nd Tank Battalion was one of the 1,700 Americans who returned home after surviving the brutal Death March and three and a half years as a Japanese prisoner of war and slave laborer.
“It was called a death march because once you fell down, you died. You were shot, bayonetted, decapitated, or buried alive.”
Dr. Tenney tells his story as a soldier and prisoner of war in My Hitch in Hell: The Bataan Death March.
As last commander of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, Dr. Tenney led a delegation of former POW’s to Japan as part of the Japanese/American POW Friendship Program. The visit culminated with an apology from the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs for the inhumane treatment of American POW’s by the Japanese military during World War II.
Four years ago, Dr. Tenney, a tireless supporter of the military, and other veterans from La Costa Glen Retirement Community in Carlsbad started Care Packages from Home, a nonprofit organization that has sent 14,000 packages to troops in combat zones. Five hundred deployed men and women will receive a wrapped gift from Care Packages this Christmas.
Since the organization is fully staffed by volunteers, Tenney said “One hundred percent of donations go into packages for the troops.”
The De Anza Daughters proudly presented Dr. Tenney with a D.A.R. Community Service award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the community along with a donation to support Care Packages from Home.
For more information about Care Packages from Home and volunteer opportunities, visit www.carepackagesfromhome.org.
A woman 18 years or older descended from an American Revolution patriot is eligible for membership in the De Anza Daughters. If you think you have a Revolutionary patriot in your family tree, call Laurel Lemarie, 858-756-2835, or visit www.dar.org.