Wellsburg is home to the official museum dedicated to a World War II event that impacted many lives.
In 2011, a section of the Brooke County Public Library became the national American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor museum with the "Defenders of the Philippines WWII 1941-45 POW's Collection."
The museum features artifacts and documents educating on the Bataan Death March, the April 1942 surrender of 75,000 Allied troops who were forced to march 66 miles along the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines. The prisoners of war experienced brutal treatment at the hands of their Japanese captors.
Photos by Zach Macormac
This World War II officer’s uniform is one of many pieces showcased at the Brooke County Public Library’s American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor museum and official national repository.
Only 54,000 made it to the final destination at the Camp O'Donnell prison. Exact death tolls are not available since some prisoners escaped while others went unaccounted. Estimates indicate about 600 American troops and thousands more Filipinos perished.
"The Brooke County Municipal Library has been named a repository for all photos, books, papers, documents and other materials that relate to the American Defenders Of The Philippines Inc. by that organization, and subsequently has collected a huge volume of such material, which is stored in its library facility," said museum coordinator Jane Kraina, noting much of the memorabilia was donated by survivor and Wellsburg resident Edward Jackfert in 2002.
"It is our wish that the traumatic events that we experienced in defending the freedoms of our great nation at the beginning of WWII should not be forgotten," Jackfert wrote in a letter to Wallace after he made the donation. "This will be a great opportunity for our community, as well as others, to examine these documents and judge for themselves how the total sacrifice of patriotic men and women, such as those that defended the Philippines at the outbreak of WWII, can be measured and comprehend that the freedoms that we now enjoy every day were made possible by their fires of self-sacrifice, loyalty, courage and wisdom, dedicated to a United States of America, forever free."
Wellsburg Calendar Of Events
- At 5:30 p.m. April 9, the Brooke County Public Library will host the Walk For A Cause supporting the library and its American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Museum starting from the Rite-Aid at 12th Street, to Seventh Street and ending at the library
- From 3-7 p.m. April 10, the Kiwanis Club of Wellsburg will host its annual Pancake and Sausage Dinner at the Wellsburg Moose Lodge, 844 Main St.
- At 1 p.m. April 28, the Brooke County Public Library will show the 2011 documentary Forgotten Soldiers presented live by director and producer Donald A. Prata in the library
- At 6 p.m. May 11, doors will open at Staffileno's on the River, 801 Main Street, Wellsburg, for a Night at the Races to support the Brooke County Veteran's Memorial Fund. The races will start at 8 p.m.
- On July 4, Independence Day celebrations will take place at Wellsburg's Central Park at 18th and Charles streets
April 9 marks 70 years since the events at Bataan.
Kraina, along with library director Mary Kay Wallace, will host upcoming events to commemorate the tragedies.
At 5:30 p.m. April 9, the starting guns will sound off the Walk For A Cause to support the library and museum. It will start by the Rite-Aid on 12th Street, go to Seventh Street and head back to the library.
Producer and director Donald A. Plata of the 2011 documentary Forgotten Soldiers at 1 p.m. April 28 will introduce the film, provide discussion and answer questions. The movie was written by historian Chris Schaefer and is narrated by Hollywood actor Lou Diamond Phillips.
The film largely details Philippine scouts - dubbed "forgotten soldiers" - and provides accounts from both American and Filipino survivors.