(Due to the nature surrounding Corporal Miller's death, there is conflicting information about when he died. This plaque says 1943, however, the WWII Memorial site has Corporal Miller's date of death as November 23, 1942)
Corporal David L. Miller was born in Fall River in 1916. After graduating high school in Fall River, he spent some time working in publishing/printing. In 1939 Hitler invaded Poland starting WWII. One year into WWII, on 11/12/1940, at the age of 24, David Miller enlisted as a private in the Army Air Corps.
Private Miller soon became Corporal Miller. Corporal Miller was stationed in the American-held Philippines in 1941. In December of 1941, the Japanese Army invaded the Philippines. The combined Filipino and US forces were being gradually overrun and General Douglas MacArthur decided to make Bataan the site of a last stand. After months of fighting, on April 3, 1942 the Japanese began an all-out assault on the American and Filipino troops left on the Bataan peninsula. Bataan fell on April 9, 1942 when the Americans surrendered to the Japanese marking the beginning of the Bataan Death March. Corporal David L. Miller was one of the 70,000 soldiers captured, by the Japanese, and forced to embark on a 65 mile torturous hike from Bataan to a prison camp.
From the day of surrender on, the POWs were harshly beaten and killed for the slightest or no reason at all. Any troops who fell behind were executed. Japanese troops beat soldiers randomly, and denied the POWs food and water for many days. Anyone who dared ask for water was executed. On the rare occasion they were given any food, it was only a handful of contaminated rice.
The men, already desperately weakened by hunger and disease, suffered unspeakably during the March. Regardless of their condition, POWs who could not continue or keep up with the pace were summarily executed. Even stopping to relieve oneself could bring death, so many chose to continue walking while relieving themselves. Some of the guards made a sport of hurting or killing the POWs. The Marchers were beaten with rifle butts, shot or bayoneted without reason. Most of the POWs got rid of their helmets because Japanese soldiers on passing trucks hit them with rifle butts. Some enemy soldiers savagely toyed with POWs by dragging them behind trucks with a rope around the neck. Japanese guards also gave the POWs the "sun treatment" by making them sit in the sweltering heat of the direct sun for hours at a time without shade.
"Their ferocity grew as we marched ... they were no longer content with mauling tragglers or pricking them with bayonet points. The thrusts were intended to kill."-Capt. William Dyess, 21st Pursuit Squadron commanderCorporal Miller survived the death march beatings, starvation, and dehydration and made it to the Japanese prison camp, where 27,000 Filipinos and 2,200 Americans, including Corporal Miller died.
Click to watch the very emotional story of a Bataan Death March Survivor
Information compiled from:
National Archives - Military Record of David Miller
WWII Memorial site
National Museum of the USAF
University of San Diego
As I mentioned in my previous blog post. Mayor Correia and City Councilor Pat Casey spearheaded the project to remove and relocate Corporal Miller's Memorial at Corporal Miller Square on Shove and South Main Streets and replace it with a new huge memorial to Paul McGovern. Correia dedicated the McGovern tribute and renamed the square after him. I am OUTRAGED that Correia stole this brave soldier's tribute. I, in no way, mean to disparage the memory of Mr. McGovern; that being said, this reeks of political patronage.
Shame on Bob Correia, Pat Casey, and all those involved in tearing up, relocating, and renaming Corporal Miller's memorial: You are stealing our history.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.