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American Defenders of
Bataan & Corregidor
Memorial Society

About Us

We are the children and grandchildren, the nieces and nephews, and friends of the men who fought and died defending Bataan and Corregidor, the airmen who were shot down and the seamen whose ships were sunk. We are the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society, and our mission is to perpetuate the story of the bravery and sacrifice of the men and women who were thrown into the maelstrom of war in the early part of World War II. Our membership is open to anyone who has an interest in this unique part of American history.

Within hours after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Japanese bombed sites in the Philippines. What followed was a bloody five month defense of the Philippines in an effort to thwart and delay the advance of the Japanese army. The Fil-American troops were hindered by lack of food, medicine, guns, and ammunition. When the end came for Bataan in April, 1942 the already malnourished and diseased troops were rounded up and forced to march more than 65 miles to prison camps in searing heat.

Capture, Ben Steele

The Japanese guards allowed no stops for water; most men were fed no more than twice, and anyone who could not go on was brutally beaten or bayoneted. For some this ordeal lasted as long as two weeks. Most of the Filipinos and Americans of Bataan and Corregidor were then starved and brutalized in the miserable camps in the Philippines before being transported in unmarked “hellships” to be used as slave labor in Japan. Many thousands of lives were lost on these voyages as well as in the mines, shipyards, and factories where they were forced to work under deplorable conditions.

Working Topside, Ben Steele

The men who suffered these cruelties are now reaching eighty and ninety years of age and have decided to disband the ADBC, the organization to which they have belonged for more than sixty years. It is therefore incumbent upon their descendants to carry on the spirit of the ADBC and keep the story from disappearing from contemporary history. We hope that through our emphasis on education that their story will live on. We are proud to continue the legacy.

Board of Directors
Board of Directors of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society (2014 - 2020)


Jan Thompson


Jan, the founding Board President of the organization, is a professor in the Radio-Television-Digital Media Department at Southern Illinois University. She has been attending the ADBC conventions since 1991 and has done extensive interviews with many former POWs over the years. Jan has produced films about our POWs. Her latest documentary, Never The Same: The Prisoner-of-War Experience, premiered in Chicago in 2013. Jan is the daughter of Robert E. Thompson a Pharmacists Mate on the USS Canopus. He was assigned to the Bilibid Prison Hospital and survived the three hell-ships Oryoku, Enoura and Brazil Maru.

Vice President:

Caroline Burkhart


Caroline believes that the story of the men who were prisoners of the Japanese must be told to subsequent generations and that the ADBCMS is the medium for that mission. Caroline has been active in the Descendants Group since the 2002 ADBC Convention and has attended every one since then. She is the daughter of Thomas F. Burkhart of the 45th Inf. PS whose prisoner sequence was O’Donnell, Cabanatuan, “Nagato Maru”, Tanagawa, Zentsuji, Rokuroshi. She attended the 2006 “Hellships Memorial” Tour to the Philippines and was thrilled to participate in the 2017 Japanese POW Friendship Tri to Japan. She was honored to speak at the Capitol when the Congressional Gold Medal was presented to the Filipino Veterans, Guerrillas, and the Philippines Scouts.


Judy Pruitt


Judy Pruitt is the oldest child of Charles and Jean Pruitt. Her father was in the Navy stationed at Cavite Navy Yard when Japan attacked the Philippines. He escaped to Corregidor where he became a guest of the Japanese for 3 ½ years. After his release, he returned to the states to Sweetwater, Tennessee, where he met and married Judy's mother. He remained in the Navy for 20 years and the family moved quite frequently until Judy was in her early teens. The siblings knew their dad had been a POW but he seldom spoke of his experiences. He did, however, teach them to count in Japanese. He did not know of the existence of the ADBC until 1983. It became a very important part of his and his wife's lives. For 1994-1995 he was National Commander and served as Secretary until he passed away in 1998. Mrs. Pruitt remained active selling ADBC merchandise until the ADBC disbanded. The ADBC became more important to Judy over the years and she has been attending the conventions for over ten years. She is proud to have a small part in the founding of the ADBC-Memorial Society. Keeping their stories from being forgotten is important to her. Judy is honored to continue in her role as treasurer and convention chair.


Debbie Noll Ernst

Chief Herbert Linton was a career Navy man serving in both WWII and the Korean War. During WWII he served on the USS Canopus (AS-9) in the Pacific theater. While on the Canopus Chief Linton experienced two Japanese attacks. The first came on 29 December 1941 when she received her first direct bomb hit. A 500-pound armor-piercing bomb penetrated all decks and exploded on the propeller shaft housing. Six sailors were killed mostly from scalding and fires started in the engine rooms and magazines. On 1 January 1942 she received a second direct bomb hit. This time it was a fragmentation bomb which exploded near the top of the towering smokestack resulting in substantial damage to the ship and injuries to 16 men of the gun crews. 

The Canopus was scuttled during the battle for Bataan in the Philippines, at that time Chief Linton  fought with the newly formed naval battalion on Longoskawayan Point. When Bataan fell to the Japanese he was ordered to Corregidor and fought with the 4th Marines assigned to T Company. The Japanese forces proved to be too much and Chief Linton, along with hundreds of others from the 4th Marines and the sailors with them were captured by the Japanese and imprisoned. Chief Linton was held as a POW for three and half years. He was liberated from Omine Machi prison camp. He was on a Hellship and worked in the coal mines when the bomb hit. He had every disease and weighted 86 lbs. Chief Linton survived hell. He was a lifetime member of the original ADBC group. 

Chief Linton would survive his time in a Japanese prison camp and would go on to serve honorably in the Navy for many more years.


Kristin Ellis Dahlstrom


Her father, William J. Ellis, Jr., served in the Quarter Masters Corp. and was on Bataan and Corregidor and in Cabanatuan #1. He was sent to Japan on the Oryoku Maru Series of hellships and died in Fukuoka #3 on Feb. 27, 1945. Kris served as a volunteer for ADBC several years before being elected to the board for two terms, 2009 and 2012. Since then she has continued to work as a volunteer as part of the support group that provides the venue and program for the reunions.

Nancy Kragh


Nancy is the daughter of Maj. Clarence White, 31st Infantry Medical Corps. Her father died on the Enoura Maru in January, 1945.  She is a founding member of the ADBC-MS and is committed to helping this organization fulfill its mission of educating the public about the experiences of the valiant men and women who defended the Philippines and other Pacific islands after the Japanese invasion in 1941.

Debra Bergbower-Grunwald


Michael Bergbower


Minutes of ADBC-MS Board Meetings

Beginning with the Aug 2011 meeting, the ADBC-MS will post the minutes from its Board Meetings upon their approval. The minutes will be available on this page as downloadable .pdf files.





10 March 2015 ADBC-MS Board Meeting Minutes

1 Feb 2015 ADBC-MS Board Meeting Minutes

30 May 2015 ADBC-MS Board Meeting Minutes

11 Dec 2014 ADBC-MS Board Meeting Minutes

29 October 2014 ADBC-MS Board Meeting

27 Aug 2014 ADBC-MS Board Meeting Minutes

20 June 2014 ADBC-MS Board Meeting Minutes

15 Apr 2013 ADBC-MS Board Meeting

4 Feb 2013 ADBC-MS Board Meeting Minutes

3 Jan 2013 ADBC-MS Board Meeting Minutes

5 Nov 2012 ADBC-MS Board Meeting Minutes

30 July 2012 ADBC-MS Board Meeting Minutes

21 May 2012 ADBC-MS Board Meeting Minutes

22 March 2012 DG Board Meeting Minutes

20 Feb 2012 DG Board Meeting Minutes

19 Jan 2012 DG Board Meeting Minutes

27 Oct 2011 DG Board Meeting Minutes

27 Sept 2011 DG Board Meeting Minutes

2 Aug 2011 DG Board Meeting Minutes

24 June 2011 DG-ADBC Annual Meeting Minutes Pittsburgh, PA

9 April 2010 DG-ADBC Annual Meeting Minutes, Reno NV

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