Revisiting On The 20th Anniversary
Reprinted from the Santa Barbara News Press, April 30, 1962
Dr. Paul Ashton, Family, Attend Historic Anniversary
So delighted was President Diosdado Macapagel of the Philippines because Dr. and Mrs.
Ashton took their children to his country to attend the 20th anniversary celebration of
the fall of Bataan that he insisted on being photographed with them. From left are, Paul
Ashton Jr., Yvonne, and Mrs. Ashton with President Macapagel.
When Dr. Paul Ashton, 306 Los Olivos St., returned from three years as a prisoner of
war in Bilibid, Manila, (1942 to 1945), he brought home with him a love for the Filipino
people and their country, and a strong wish to share these feelings with the people who
shared the life he returned to.
It was not until almost 20 years later, however that this wish was to be fulfilled, suddenly,
and under circumstances some people would call coincidental, and others would consider destiny.
Although he was not a member of the organization called the Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor
or of any veterans' group, someone back in the tropical country he loved put his name on a list
to receive a publication. It is dedicated to the purpose of keeping alive the memory of the
terrible and heroic action at Bataan and Corregidor which turned
what well might have been America's death rattle into second wind. It was in this publication
in the middle of March this year that Dr. Ashton read that a celebration honoring the 20th
anniversary of the fall of Bataan was planned April 7 in Manila. His decision to attend
with his family was swift, and as swiftly, Mrs. Ashton and their two children, Paul Jr.,
15, and Yvonne, 12, rallied to attend to all the arrangements and packing that had to be
done before their departure March 31.
As the first Americans to arrive for the celebration--which has now been declared a national
holiday--the Ashtons created sensational excitement, and were publicly welcomed via the press
and radio. President Diosado Macapagel of the Philippines was so delighted and touched that
they had traveled so far, and had brought their children, that he insisted on them being
photographed with him. As it turned out, the Ashton family were four of six non resident
Americans who attended. The others were Capt. and Mrs. Siegfred A. Schriener of Connecticut
and two enlisted men stationed in Japan. Fireworks, gun salutes and, sirens backgrounded the
itinerary planned for the celebration--an itinerary which perfectly incorporated every thing Dr.
Ashton had hoped to share with his family.
The infamous Death March was repeated, but this time the road was travelled by bus.
Twelve buses carrying 16 Americans and a roster of Filipino people which included rank
and file citizens and a glittery galaxy of generals made the pilgrimage.