Tag: Maywood Bataan Day Organization

Photos of the Week: On Eve of 9/11, Maywood Remembers Bataan

Monday, September 11, 2017 || By Michael Romain | Photos by Spooner Baumann || @maywoodnews 

On Sept. 10, a few hundred people gathered under a tent pitched at Maywood Veterans Memorial Park, located on the corner of 1st Ave. and Oak St., for the 75th Bataan Day commemorative service.

According to the Maywood Bataan Day Organization (MBDO), the service is the “longest running World War II commemorative event in the Chicago area.” This year, MBDO officials added, also marked the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I.

Continue reading “Photos of the Week: On Eve of 9/11, Maywood Remembers Bataan”

Maywood to Mark 75th Annual Bataan Day on Sept. 10

Wednesday, September 6, 2017 || By Community Editor || @maywoodnews 

The Maywood Bataan Day Organization recently released the details of its 75th annual Bataan Day commemoration, which is set to take place on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2:30 p.m., at Maywood Veterans Memorial Park, located on Oak St. (between 1st and 3rd Avenues) in Maywood.

Continue reading “Maywood to Mark 75th Annual Bataan Day on Sept. 10”

Last Maywood-Born Member of 192nd Tank Batallion, Bataan Death March Survivor, Dies at 96


Lester Tenney, “the last man from [Company B], and the last Maywood-born member of the 192nd Tank Batallion,” who died last month at 96. | Maywood Bataan Day Organization 

Saturday, March 4, 2017 || By Local News Curator || @maywoodnews

Lester Tenney, “the last man from [Company B], and the last Maywood-born member of the 192nd Tank Batallion,” according to a statement put out by the Maywood Bataan Day Organization last month, has died. The MBDO added that Tenney was also a former president of the American Bataan Clan, MBDO’s predecessor.

Tenney died last month in California after a short hospitalization, according to an article published by the San Diego Union-Tribune at the time. Tenney, among the last living survivors of the Bataan Death March, said that he survived the ordeal “by setting small goals for himself as he walked,” the Union-Tribune wrote.

“Make it to that stand of trees,” reporters John Wilkens and Peter Rowe reported of Tenney’s fight for survival. “Make it to that herd of water buffalo. By the time he and the other survivors staggered into Japanese prison camps, thousands had died.

“It was awful. It was inhumane. It was barbaric,” recalled Tenney, who is survived by Betty, his wife of 57 years; a son; two stepson; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Read more about Tenney’s fight for survival here. Read the MBDO’s release on Tenney’s death here. VFP

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This year, Maywood’s Bataan Day Memorial Falls on Anniversary of 9/11

Maywood Bataan Day 1963

The Morton Grove Cougars Drum and Bugle Corps march during the 1963 Bataan Day memorial in Maywood. | mbdo.org via Bob Zimmerman || Below: The World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001. | Wikipedia

9:11.jpgFriday, September 9, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

This year, the Maywood Bataan Day Organization’s annual memorial service — scheduled for 3 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 11, at Maywood Veterans Park — has multiple layers of significance.

“On the occasion of the 74th anniversary of the Maywood Bataan Day Annual Memorial Service,” noted the organization’s president, Col. Richard A. McMahon, Jr., “the 70th Anniversary of the Memorial Tank Dedication and the 15th Anniversary of the attacks of 9/11, it is important to confirm our sacred vow to remember the heroes of the United States.”

The event’s keynote speaker is Brigadier General Alicia Tate-Nadeau, Assistant Adjutant General of the Joint Staff, Illinois National Guard. According to a statement released by MBDO, General Tate-Nadeu “has the distinct honor of being the first woman to have attained the rank of Brigadier General in the Illinois National Guard.”

Each year, since 1942, hundreds of people have gathered in Maywood to memorialize the men of Maywood’s Company B of the 192nd Tank Battalion, half of whom left Maywood in the fall of 1941 to defend the Philippines Islands. They would not return.

“Killed in action, missing in impenetrable jungles, dead on the infamous Bataan Death March, or in an overcrowded and unsanitary POW camp, or on a Hell Ship to Japan or China, or as a slave laborer in a coal mine or steel mill, or any of an uncounted number of atrocities at the hands of their enemies and eventual captors – those who survived had been home for less than a year,” the MBDO statement notes.

For more information on the event, click here. VFP

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Businessman Kyle FitzGerald Elected Director of Maywood Bataan Day Organization Ahead of Annual Memorial Service

Kyle Fitzgerald

Kyle FitzGerald (pictured outside of ReUse Depot at an event last year with black jacket, second from left in back row), was recently elected the Maywood Bataan Day Organization’s director-at-large. The MBDO’s annual Bataan Day Memorial Service will be held Sun. September 13, 2015. File photo. 

Monday, August 31, 2015 || By Michael Romain

Ahead of its 73rd annual Maywood Bataan Day Memorial Service, which takes place on Sun. September 13, the Maywood Bataan Day Organization (MBDO) recently elected Kyle FitzGerald as its newest director-at-large. FitzGerald owns and directs the ReUse Depot, 50 Madison St., which recently relocated to the village from nearby Bellwood.

ReUse occupies the former site of the old Maywood Armory, where the 33rd Infantry Division of the Illinois National Guard was once based. After America entered WWII, the 33rd infantry division would be merged into Company “B” of the 192nd Tank Batallion, which would go on to face the infamous Bataan Death March.

“Kyle plans to continue redeveloping the property to better serve the reuse community and serve as a destination for craftsmen, woodworkers, do-it-yourselfers, and artists. The goal is to restore the 33rd tank company facade to honor the history of the building and those who trained at this prestigious facility before serving for our country,” according to an MBDO statement.

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Finding Private Jerele: The Unidentified Remains of WWII Soldier Loomed Large Over This Year’s Bataan Day Memorial

Screenshot 2014-09-18 at 4.31.03 PMCol. Richard A. McMahon, Jr., President of the Maywood Bataan Day Organization points out the name of Private Harry Jerele (below left) on the rededicated memorial plaque in Maywood Veterans Memorial Park. Photo by Michael Romain for the Village Free Press.

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Thursday, September 18, 2014 || By Michael Romain

MAYWOOD — There was something different about this year’s Bataan Day Memorial Service held Sunday, September 14, at Veterans Memorial Maywood Park. The event is hosted every second Sunday in September by the Maywood Bataan Day Organization (MBDO). Past and present participants of America’s wars — from WWII to Iraq and Afghanistan — mingled with civilian family members, friends and supporters beneath a pitched white tent.

They included the family of Private Harry Jerele, a graduate of Melrose Park Elementary and former resident of Maywood. Jerele died as a prisoner of war in the Philippines, but his resting place at the American Military Cemetery at Manila — plot L, Row 2, Grave 57 — reads: “Unknown.” That’s because, more than 70 years after his family received the dreadful news of his death on December 28, 1943, Harry Jerele’s remains still haven’t been positively identified.

Colonel Richard A. McMahon, Jr., the President of the Maywood Bataan Day Organization, introduced Jerele’s family as he fought back tears.

“Harry Jerele is buried in an unmarked grave in Manilla and his family is here to today, specifically Sharon Nakamura,” Col. McMahon said. “Unfortunately, we can’t seem to get [the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, which is responsible for identifying the remains of U.S. soldiers] to move on going to Manila and identifying Harry, but [Sharon’s] working hard on it,” he said. “All these years later and there is still love going on for what uncle did what grandpa did.”

As with every year, the ceremony’s program listed the nearly 600 young men who comprised the 192nd Tank Batallion that would eventually play such a devastatingly important role in the Bataan Death March. The March is widely considered to be “the greatest atrocity of the Pacific War.”

“A seemingly endless line of sick and starving men began their trip from the peninsula to Camp O’Donnell in central Luzon. The former Philippine cantonment was to have been an American airfield before the Japanese invasion, but had to be abandoned before completion,” according to the event program.

The 192nd was responsible for providing cover for the nearly 80,000 troops who had withdrawn into Bataan, a province of the Philippines, after the Japanese attacked and invaded Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. When the Japanese subsequently invaded Bataan several months later, many of the men from the 192nd would suffer the indignities of the 70 mile-long March — Private Jerele included. Eighty-nine men from Maywood’s Company B, or Bravo, left the United States for the Philippines during World War II. Only 43 would return.

According to Edwin Walker IV, nearly 10 percent of Maywood’s population of about 24,000 is composed of military veterans. Current Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins emphasized that unusually large sacrifice to counter some of the criticism that’s been coming against the Village’s employees in the wake of the recent controversy involving the American flag.

Earlier this month, Maywood’s Fire Chief Craig Bronaugh had issued an order demanding that all decals, including those of American flags, be removed from the lockers and helmets of firefighters. The order wasn’t followed by four firefighters, who were subsequently ordered to go home for the day for their insubordination.

The Chief and Village officials have insisted that the order was strictly to promote uniformity and professionalism in the department, which Chief Bronaugh said had been mired in past conflicts stemming from inappropriate locker decals. Internet blogs and various other media outlets, however, have painted the Chief as anti-American.

Screenshot 2014-09-18 at 4.30.41 PMScreenshot 2014-09-18 at 4.32.13 PMCommand Sgt. Major Mark Bowman, left, and Generoso D.G. Calonge, the Philippine Consul General in Chicago. Photos by Michael Romain for the Village Free Press.

“We honor our veterans. We honor our acting soldiers,” the Mayor said during remarks. “Maywood is one of the most patriotic places in America. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise […] And for anyone who may have doubts about how much we love our country and our flag, they should be here right now.”

The unique connection between Bataan and Maywood was enhanced by several of the day’s speakers, some with intimate personal connections to Maywood.

“The epic of Bataan sparked a light that crossed to the other side of the world [and landed in Maywood],” said Generoso D.G. Calonge, the Philippine Consul General in Chicago. “It inspired mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and an entire community to work tirelessly for their brave Bataan boys to be remembered and honored.”

“My grandmother live in this town for 40 years,” said. Command Sgt. Major Mark W. Bowman of the Illinois National Guard. “When I was a young boy, I remember playing on that tank,” Bowman said, pointing to the tank prominently displayed on the east side of the park. “It wasn’t there, it was somewhere else in town.”

The tank had just received a fresh coat of paint by the MBDO’s directors. At 17, Bowman joined active duty as a tanker and mused that “it may had something to do with playing on that piece of metal.” When he, along with the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team was deployed to Afghanistan in 2008, he said that he felt as if Maywood’s Bravo Company was with he and his men. Bowman credits the legacy of Maywood’s Bravo Company with inspiring the courage of men from the Illinois National Guard who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. So far, their collective acts of heroism have produced 66 purple hearts and more than 600 bronze stars, among many other accolades.

Bowman said that 19 of his fellow National Guard men lost their lives to war.


Private Harry Jerele became a prisoner of war (POW) on April 9, 1942, after receiving word from his commanding officer to surrender. Jerele and his band of brothers laid down their weapons and ate what the commanding officer called “their last supper” before appearing in front of their Japanese captors two days later.

When the Japanese soldiers showed up, they rummaged through the American captives’ possessions, taking what they wanted. The Japanese then ordered the men to sit in the sun for hours with no water or food before commencing the long march to Camp O’Donnell.

As the men marched the many miles to the Camp, some were killed by American artillery shells launched from nearby islands that had not yet surrendered; some starved; some were buried alive. It took almost a week to reach San Fernando, where Harry and the other surviving POWs were shoved into wooden boxcars, packed 100 strong into cars that weren’t meant to hold much more than 40 men or eight horses. Harry would’ve seen men die standing up, living bodies standing shoulder-to-shoulder with corpses.

Harry survived the boxcars to make it to Capas, where he was forced to walk another ten miles to Camp O’Donnell. When he got to the Camp, he would’ve seen his fellow POW’s dying at a rate of 50 per day, many from starvation and dehydration. He may have waited in line for days to drink from the one working faucet in the entire POW camp. Sick and starving, Private Jerele was nonetheless expected to work a detail that required him to recover destroyed military vehicles.

By this point, having survived what had to at least have been the emotional and physical equivalent of ten wars, Private Jerele may have been spiritually emaciated. The final report on the 192nd notes that Jerele, 27, died cerebral malaria and pneumonia on December 24, 1942, at approximately 1 PM.

Harry Jerele was buried in grave 804 in a camp cemetery with three other POWs, all of whom were positively identified after the war. Jerele’s remains, for whatever reason, were not. According to the Proviso East High School Bataan Commemorative Research Project, “On December 1, 1949, the remains of the one man, who had been buried in Cabanatuan grave #804 and not identified, were returned from Fort Mason in San Francisco, California, to Manila. The remains were identified as X-846. It is believed these remains were those of Harry Jerele […] At this time, Harry’s family is attempting to have these remains exhumed and, through the use of DNA, bring him home.”

Private Jerele, according to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, or JPAC, is one among approximately 8,600 WWII missing persons buried in U.S. cemeteries at home or abroad.

Last Sunday, the MBDO unveiled it’s rededicated memorial plaque, etched into which are the names of the men of the 192nd. After removing the plaque’s covering, Col. McMahon, pointed to Harry Jerele’s name and nearly broke down again, as if in subtle protest. ‘This was a life,’ he seemed to be saying in his tears.

“There’s Harry’s name right there,” McMahon said, pointing. Then he shouted to no one in particular, to Jerele’s spirit perhaps, or perhaps to the great unlistening world: “Jerele, your name is right up here!”

Later in the ceremony, the DuPage Chapter of the VietNow Color Guard would perform the always touching Monument Ceremony, the men of the Howard Rhode American Legion Post would deliver the rifle squad gun salute, two trumpeters of the US Navy Ceremonial Band Great Lakes would solemnly perform taps. But it was the most unceremonial exchange that would comprise the most tragically poignant part of the ceremony.

“Who is that?” said a spectator as Col. McMahon pointed.

“He’s laying in an unmarked grave in Manila,” the Col. said. “We’re just waiting for JPAC to….identify his remains.”

“How come they won’t do it,” the spectator asked.

“Because he’s only one. It costs too much money,” Col. McMahon said. VFP

To read more stories of Maywood soldiers who were involved in the Bataan Death March, click here. Special thanks to the Proviso East High School Bataan Commemorative Research Project for providing the information on Pfc. Jerele’s life that was used as the basis for much of this article.

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72nd Annual Maywood Bataan Day, Sunday, September 14, 2014

Maywood Bataan Day 1963

Tuesday, September 2, 2014 || COMMUNITY EDITOR

The Maywood Bataan Day Organization cordially invites you to the 72nd Annual Maywood Bataan Day, Sunday September 14, 2014 at Veterans Memorial Park in Maywood, Illinois. Musical program starts at 2:30pm, Memorial Service begins at 3pm.

This is also the 15th Anniversary of the dedication of Veterans Memorial Park in Maywood and the 55th Anniversary of the dedication of the 192nd Tank Battalion Plaque at the old National Guard Armory originally located across the street from Proviso East High School on Madison Ave and now relocated to Veterans Memorial Park.

As we do every year, we will be marking this day with a memorial service that will begin at 2:30pm with a concert of military and patriotic songs presented by the US Navy Ceremonial Band Great Lakes, under the leadership of MU1 Garrett Stephan.

Promptly at 3pm, we will witness the massing of the Color Guards and begin the Memorial Service.

There are many exciting events planned for this Memorial Service, including the singing of the American and Philippine National Anthems, as well as the always emotionally moving Monument Ceremony presented by the VietNow Color Guard DuPage Chapter. Our Keynote Speaker is Command Sergeant Major Mark W. Bowman, who is the Land Component CSM for the Illinois National Guard as well as a tanker himself. We will also have guest speakers, including the Philippine Consul General in Chicago, Generoso D. G. Caonge, and Barry C. Cicero, Past Cmdr, First Division, American Legion Dept. of Illinois.

Rifle salute will be presented by the Howard H. Rohde American Legion Post #888from Northlake, Commander Al Pizzaro. And memorial wreaths will be presented by representatives of all branches of the US Military, as well as distinguished Filipino and other community guests.

And to mark the anniversaries of the dedication of Veterans Park, and the original 192nd Tank Battalion plaque, we will be dedicating a replacement plaque that will replace the existing plaque.

On a special note, we will also be recognizing the support of the Home Depot Foundation in providing landscaping to Veterans Memorial Park and the labor ofHome Depot Store #1901 in Broadview, Illinois, for their efforts to install the new landscaping materials.

We welcome the community and look forward to sharing this special day with everyone! VFP

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