Thomas Mayor, a longtime resident of Mesa, Arizona, passed away at the age of 103. He was believed to be the last survivor of the Bataan Death March, which took place during World War II. The march spanned 106 miles across the Philippines and was attended by 66,000 Filipinos and 10,000 Americans who were prisoners of war under the Japanese. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, approximately 2,500 Filipinos and 500 American prisoners of war may have died during the march, and another 26,000 Filipinos and 1,500 Americans lost their lives at the march’s destination.
Mayor’s son, Raymond, recalled the difficult conditions that the prisoners faced during the march. He mentioned that they were malnourished, had nothing to eat, and had to drink their sweat. Mayor, who moved from the Philippines to the United States, became a symbol of resilience and strength to his family. He achieved the American Dream and had six children, 23 grandchildren, and 19 great-grandchildren during his lifetime.
The nonprofit organization Veterans Affinity, located in the Phoenix area, honored Mayor with a medal and a challenge coin. The group’s mission is to find veterans who are in poor condition and show them appreciation for their service. Rick Kleiberg of Veterans Affinity stated that the world exists for their service. Mayor’s passing marked the end of an era, but his legacy as a survivor of the Bataan Death March will live on.