Hundreds gather at Dangerfield Island for the 4th Bataan Memorial Death March

April 21, 2024

The Mt. Vernon Trail along the Potomac River on Alexandria, VA. drew nearly 300 participants on April 20 to commemorate the Bataan Death March. Participation in the BMDM on the Potomac has increased every year since it started in April 2021, drawing advocates, supporters and families of Filipino World War II Veterans from all over the East Coast.

About a hundred midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. ran the 14-mile route from Dangerfield Island, where marchers gathered at 6 o’clock Saturday morning. Joining them were a dozen cadets from West Point, alumni from the Philippine Military Academy, members of Post 5471 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, VFW Auxiliary, diplomats from the Philippine Embassy and officers of the US Philippine Friendship Society. Community organizations represented include the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP), Philippine American Chamber of Commerce (PACC), Filipino Young Professionals (FYP) and the University of the Philippines Alumni Association.

As it does every year, the Philippine Nurses Association of Metropolitan DC (PNAMDC) provided vital first-aid and medical services. Led by former PNAMDC President Joy Arellano and Zonna Alvarez, PNAMDC Community Outreach Committee co-chair, the nurses set up four medical stations along the trail.

Photos by Bing Branigin, Richard Mercado and Paul Tanedo.

FiLVetREP Chairman Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret) welcomes participants to the 2024 Bataan Memorial Death March on the Potomac. (Photo by Paul I. Tanedo)

Proclamation from the State of Maryland
At the opening ceremony, Hon. Kris Valderrama, Delegate to the Maryland Assembly, read a Proclamation honoring the service and sacrifice of Filipino and American Veterans who served in World War II. Also present at the opening were U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Jimmy Canlas, Philippine Navy Captain Salvador Henry Quinto, and Philippine Defense Attache Lt. Colonel Michael F. Lugtu.

Rey Cabacar, one of two living Filipino World War II veterans residing in the DMV, delivered closing remarks at the conclusion of the march. The presence of the 96-year-old former US Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer at all four BMDM events was an inspiration especially to the young generation of Filipino Americans. Participants and volunteers were served lunch – catered by Merlyn Eda – and spent the rest of the afternoon sharing their experiences.

FilVetREP Chairman Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret) welcomed the marchers who were joining for the first time, some of whom came all the way from Ithaca, NY, New York City, Philadelphia, Delaware and South Carolina. He also thanked all the volunteers and generous donors who have supported and advocated for veterans rights over the years, notably Cristina Sison of Sison Homes, Jhett Arzadon, Robert Llamas, the Medical Mission of Mercy, Tito Al Alpapara, Andrea Reyes, and the Erika and Dino Company. “Your valuable assistance has helped us continue creating greater awareness about the heroes who endured the Bataan Death March,” Taguba said. “This ensures that their stories will never be forgotten.”

The lead organizers of BMDM on the Potomac are Taguba, FilVetREP Region I Director Sonny Busa, FilVetREP Region 2 Director Jay Cabacar and VFW Post 5471 Commander Ike Puson. Also assisting were Matt Aninzo, Bing Branigin, Jon Melegrito and Lida Peterson.

Midshipmen from the US Naval Academy, led by CJ Posis, President of the USNA Filipino American Club, pose for a group picture with Gen. Taguba.
Community leaders Cristina Sison (right) and Jhett Arzadon enjoy their brisk walk while cheering on their friends.

The 14-mile trail is mainly along the scenic Potomac River in Alexandria, VA.

Members of the UP Alumni Association stop by the PNAMDC Nurses Station on Mile 7 for a quick break.
BMDM on the Potomac is also a family affair – an opportunity for Maera Busa Maisel and her one-year-old son Ciaran to honor his great grandfather, a Filipino World War II Veteran.
U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Jimmy Canlas honored his father by displaying his picture. Other marchers also pinned photos and names of their loved ones on their shirts.
Eric Lachica, son of a Filipino World War II Veteran, and 96-year-old veteran Rey Cabacar greet marchers at the finish line.
Sarah Bengzon of the UP Alumni Association rushes to the finish line to receive her medal from NAAAP President Ryan Namata.
Officers and members of the VFW Post 5471 and Auxiliary led by Ike Puzon (left) provided water and refreshments to BMDM participants, in addition to cheering them on.
Smiling for the cameras are USNA Midshipmen, West Point Cadets, PMA alumni and retired military officers.
Merlyn Eda, right, serves a hearty Filipino meal to marchers after completing their run.

Always prepared and ready to respond to any medical emergencies, PNAMDC members have actively supported and participated in BMDM in the last four years, setting up nurses stations and providing safety guidelines.

PACCDC President Matthew Gabriel Veland led a group of volunteers to help with the set-up, registration and clean-up.


The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP), is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, community-based, all-volunteer national initiative whose mission is to obtain national recognition of Filipino and American WW11 soldiers across the United States and the Philippines for their wartime service to the U.S. and the Philippines from July 26, 1941 to December 31, 1946. For more information about Filipino WWII veterans and how to get involved, visit our website at or find us on Facebook or Twitter.