April 06, 2022

Media advisory: SIU Carbondale expert can discuss Bataan Death March as 80th anniversary nears

As the 80th anniversary of the start of the Bataan Death March is commemorated on Saturday, April 9, Southern Illinois University Carbondale has an expert available to discuss the death march and what American POWs in the Pacific endured during World War II. 

Jan Thompson, a professor and director of the School of Journalism, has spent more than three decades on research and film and radio projects on the POW experience. An estimated 10,000 American and Filipino prisoners did not survive the 65-mile, nine-day forced march that began April 9, 1942. With more than 75,000 POWs, it marked the largest surrender in U.S. military history. National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day is observed annually on April 9. 

In March, as president of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society, Thompson presented comments before a joint U.S. Senate and House Committee on Veterans' Affairs as part of a virtual hearing. Thompson’s late father, Robert, was surrendered to the Japanese on Corregidor about a month after the death march and spent more than three years as a POW before being liberated from a Manchurian prison camp in September 1945.

Thompson is available for in-person or virtual interviews via Zoom. She can be reached at janione@siu.edu or 618-521-3654.