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EDDIE GRAHAM
100TH BIRTHDAY PARTY

Saturday, September 2, 2017
Every one is invited.

BIG BIRTHDAY PARTY - SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2017 - 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM

Roadhouse Event Center
3813 N. Broadway
Wichita, KS 67219

Birthday cake, food and refreshments while it lasts.

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                              Eddie Graham - World War II “BATAAN DEATH MARCH SURVIVOR”.

When Eddie Graham enlisted in the New Mexico National Guard in 1941, he was prepared to serve his country, but he was unprepared for how dedicated this service would prove to be.

Mr. Graham is one of the few remaining survivors of the Bataan Death March, a six day march spanning more than 60 miles that led to the death of more than 19,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war during World War II.
Mr. Graham's story began when his New Mexico National Guard unit, the 200th Coast Artillery, was activated and assigned to the Philippines Sept. 26, 1941.

When America declared war on the Japanese Empire after the attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 8, 1941, the Japanese soon attacked American bases in the Philippines.  These attacks lasted for more than three months. Mr. Graham's regiment, Company D, retreated into the jungle. The men went without food or ammunition for the last month before they surrendered.

Because then-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had concentrated resources into the European Theater for the war, military bases within the South Pacific were left vulnerable. This ultimately led to the surrender in the Philippines by U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Edward P. King, Jr., Luzon Force Bataan, Philippine Islands commander, on April 9, 1942.

Though General King was assured by the Japanese Army that the prisoners would be treated humanely, the surrender immediately led to an involuntary transfer of more than 75,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war.

The prisoners were forced to walk miles on dusty terrain without food or water. Those who tried to drink from streams near the trail were immediately killed.  "You couldn't even help others who fell out or the soldiers would kill you too," Mr. Graham said.

By the end of this "march," Mr. Graham and other prisoners spent more than a year at a POW camp in the Philippines under the supervision of the Japanese Army. While there, the prisoners were fed little and forced to work in the fields daily planting vegetables.

Mr. Graham recalled an incident that he feels helped him avoid death.
"When we first got to the camp, they placed me in a small group of 25 men and gave us each red ribbons to put on," he said. "I immediately knew something was wrong and when the guard wasn't looking, I tore the ribbon off and left the group."

Mr. Graham says he never knew what became of the other men who wore the ribbons. During his time at this camp,

Mr. Graham said at least four or five people died every day from starvation or lack of medical treatment.

After a year at the camp in the Philippines, Mr. Graham was shipped with other prisoners to a POW camp in Japan, working in a steel mill under civilian supervision. He remained there until the surrender of the Japanese in 1945.

Once Mr. Graham returned to the U.S., he spent more than a year in recovery at four different military hospitals, before being honorably discharged in 1946.

After completing his enlistment, Mr. Graham moved to Wichita, Kan., to attend business school. He has been a resident ever since this move.

Despite his harsh treatment by the Japanese soldiers, Mr. Graham bears no hatred toward them, instead realizing
that they were only performing their duty as soldiers.

Of the 2,000 members of the 200th Coast Artillery, less than 1,000 survived by the end of World War II. "It's hard to believe that something like this happened," Mr. Graham said. "Unless you've seen it, you don't believe it. When asked, how he maintained his spirit during his captivity, Mr. Graham says: "I just kept telling myself that I would get out one day."

As of March 6, 2017, there are fewer then 50 WW II Bataan Death march survivors.
 
   

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