Ralph Levenberg, Maj. USAF (Ret.)
American Defenders of Bataan & Corregidor, Inc.
National Commander 1979-1980
Major Ralph Levenberg, USAF (Ret) and Artist Randy Soard
Levenberg, Maj. USAF (retired) of Reno, winner of the 1994 National Outstanding
Veteran-Patient Award. Mr. Levenberg is a World War II survivor of the 1943
Bataan Death March. He was held prisoner of war for more than three years.
Major Ralph Levenberg, USAF (Ret) far left
Veteran's Hospital Dedication - Reno Nevada - September 10, 2004
Ralph Levenberg, 83, of Reno. Levenberg, who was a 21-year-old sergeant in the Army Air Corps on Bataan.
POW Recognition Day breakfast at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Recognition Day is on April 9, the anniversary of the Bataan Death March. Every year, Levenberg, a volunteer POW consultant at the medical center remembers. “What we did experience is very hard for anyone who has not experienced it to understand,” said Levenberg, who spent more than three years in Japanese POW camps. “It was a horrific experience.”
After the war, the commander of Japanese forces in the Philippines, Lt. Gen. Homma Masaharu was charged with responsibility for the death march, tried by a U.S. military commission, convicted and executed.
Levenberg was located at Camp O’Donnell, where survivors of the march arrived a week after starting the journey through the Philippine jungle.
“The guards made us take off anything we were wearing on our heads,” said Levenberg, who retired from the Air Force as a major in 1961. “In that hot sun, that took its toll. We didn’t have any food or water. Every eight or 10 miles there were these beautiful springs with water. ”Levenberg kept walking.
“That was a quick way to get shot,” he said. “Fall out of ranks to get water.”
Levenberg and the rest of the prisoners walked 55 miles from Mariveles at the south end of the peninsula north to San Fernando, where they were transferred to freight cars and taken to the town of Capas. From there, they walked the last eight miles to Camp O’Donnell.
Levenberg was confined in a series of camps, first in the Philippines and later in Japan. Levenberg help bury the dead.
“Before you knew it, malaria was rampant,” he said. “People were dying, 30 to 50 a day. We were burying them in an open pit.”
“I was a prisoner for 1,244 days,” said Levenberg, who spent eight months in a hospital after his release. “When you say it, it sounds real quick. It sounds like it went by real fast, but it didn’t.”