ADM Phil Davidson
Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command
77th Day of Valor Commemoration
Philippine Consulate General in Honolulu
As Prepared Remarks
Thank you for the kind introduction, and thank you Ambassador Jimeno for your inspiring words and for inviting my wife Tracy and me to be a part of this special event.
I would like to welcome Governor Ige…esteemed members of our consular and diplomatic corps…state and city leaders…fellow flag and general officers…
And most importantly, welcome to our World War Two Veterans and their families, to whom we owe an immeasurable debt of gratitude.
It is a privilege to be here with you to help commemorate this Day of Valor.
On this date, 77 years ago more than 75,000 Filipino and American troops surrendered to the Japanese Imperialist Army.
In the ensuing 140-kilometer Bataan Death March, nearly 10,000 Filipinos and Americans died due to starvation, dehydration, exhaustion, or mistreatment by their captors.
But, in those days following the fall of Bataan, a ‘Voice of Freedom’ radio broadcast best captured the fighting spirit of the Filipino and American troops, saying that, despite months of heavy fighting, what drove them was “an unconquerable faith – something in the heart and soul that physical hardship and adversity could not destroy….”
“It was the thought of native land and all that it holds dearest; the thought of freedom and dignity and pride in these most priceless of all our human prerogatives.”
These troops had joined the war effort out of national pride and a commitment against imperialism and fascism.
And, this grisly period during the war is a reminder of the courage and sacrifice of the Filipino and American troops.
So today, we remember and honor those brave men and women who fought, bled, and died in their defense of liberty.
These Veterans will never be forgotten. Indeed, ceremonies like this one properly recognize their sacrifices while educating and inspiring future generations.
And in the wake of the war, the United States and the Philippines have remained steadfast allies in our pursuit of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.
Our alliance is built on a history of rich people-to-people ties, including a vibrant Filipino-American diaspora, with many Filipino-Americans continuing to serve in the U.S. military, bringing a cultural depth and strong work ethic to our armed services.
And as we speak, more than 3,500 U.S. Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen are in the Philippines training shoulder-to-shoulder alongside the Armed Forces of the Philippines as part of Exercise BALIKATAN.
Our steadfast support of this alliance is also underscored by our commitment to defeating radical Islamic terrorism. When terrorists seized Marawi in 2017, the U.S. responded immediately with military support and continues to support with relief and rehabilitation programs.
And just a few weeks ago, U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo met with President Duterte and Foreign Secretary Locsin in the Philippines.
In unambiguous terms, Secretary Pompeo reaffirmed our commitment to the Mutual Defense Treaty with the Republic of the Philippines, who, like so many in the region, depend upon free and unobstructed access to the seas.
As such, Secretary Pompeo assured that “as the South China Sea is part of the Pacific, any armed attack on Philippine forces, aircraft, or public vessels in the South China Sea will trigger mutual defense obligations under Article 4 of our Mutual Defense Treaty.”
There is no doubt of our continued commitment to our alliance, one built through a shared history, common values, and made possible by those who have come before us.
The United States and the Philippines remain forever indebted to those brave men and women for their valor and dedication. Their commitment and sacrifice demonstrates the most uncommon and commendable sense of patriotism and honor.
May God bless those who gave their lives in service to their countries during World War II ... May God bless all our veterans who represent the commitment and bravery that make our nations great... and May God bless the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America.