Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Rollover text informationAmerican Experience Logo
Bataan Rescue
The Film & More
Special Features
Survivor Interviews
Ranger Training
Two Nations
On the Home Front
Philippines Map
Share Your Story

Timeline
Gallery
People & Events
Teacher's Guide

spacer above content
On the Home Front

Postal telegraph explaining capture of soldiers as prisoners of war by the Japanese government Families agonized as they waited for news of their missing loved ones. Months passed before many learned their sons were prisoners of war -- and those were the lucky ones who hadn't died of disease or abuse after the fall of Bataan.

Messages on the government's postage-free Prisoner of War Mail postcards were limited to 24 words -- typed or hand-printed in block capital letters. In addition to writing their soldiers, families contacted government and military officials seeking news.

Sadly, many letters to and from POWs were never delivered. "Uncle Sam didn't take care of us," former prisoner Manuel Armijo said. "We had to take care of each other. The family hadn't heard from me for two and a half years."

The desire to see his child and a strong religious faith carried Armijo through his horrific experience. "I was married and I left a pregnant wife at home," he recalled in a spring 2003 interview, at age 91. "Before I left, my mother had me light a candle in the corners of the house. 'Kneel, son,' she said, 'and light a candle for your safe return.' When I came back, four and a half years later, she said, 'now you can kneel, say a prayer, and blow your candles out.' My daughter Loretta was four years and nineteen days old when I came back."

Read correspondence from families and prisoners of war.

Letters to the Governor of New Mexico

Gavino Rivera

Oral and Charles Cheney



Site Navigation

Special Features: Survivor Interviews | Ranger Training | Two Nations
On the Home Front | Philippines Map | Share Your Story

Bataan Rescue Home | The Film & More | Special Features | Timeline
Gallery | People & Events | Teacher's Guide

American Experience | Feedback | Search | Shop | Subscribe | Web Credits

© New content 1999-2003 PBS Online / WGBH

Exclusive Corporate Funding is provided by: