SAN FRANCISCO — A San Francisco Bay Area man who survived the infamous 1942 Bataan Death March and symbolized the thousands of unheralded Filipinos who fought alongside US forces during World War II has died at age 100.
Ramon Regalado died Dec. 16 in El Cerrito, Calif., said Cecilia I. Gaerlan, executive director of the Bataan Legacy Historical Society, which has fought to honor Mr. Regalado and others. ‘‘He really embodied the qualities of the greatest generation and love for country,’’ she said.
Mr. Regalado was born in 1917 in the Philippines. He was a machine gun operator with the Philippine Scouts under US Army forces when troops were forced to surrender in 1942 to the Japanese after a grueling three-month battle.
The prisoners were forced to march some 65 miles to a camp. Many died during the march, killed by Japanese soldiers or simply unable to make the trek. Most of the troops were Filipino.
Mr. Regalado survived and slipped away with two others — all of them sick with malaria. They encountered a farmer who cared for them, but only Mr. Regalado lived.
Afterward, he joined a guerrilla resistance movement against the Japanese and later moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to work as a civilian for the US military.
He gave many interviews to promote the wartime heroics of Filipinos, who were promised benefits and US citizenship but saw those promises disappear after the war ended.
More than 250,000 Filipino soldiers served with US troops in World War II, and 57,000 of them died.The veterans have won back some concessions, including lump-sum payments as part of the 2009 economic stimulus package.
In an October ceremony in Washington, D.C., remaining Filipino veterans of World War II were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian award.
Gaerlan said Mr. Regalado did not make the trip due to poor health, but he received his medal in a California hospital earlier this month.