"I was present during the lowering of the flag."

 

 

 

   

Precisely at 12:00, despite enemy shelling, Bunker and Edison marched to the island's flagpole. Both of them stood ramrod stiff as taps was blown by a bugler. They lowered and burned the colors, "which had been shot down and replaced twice...during the siege, saving one small piece of it, which Bunker had until he died. *

Val Gavito

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"I believe that at one time I related the story to you all or you all told me the story about  that Colonel Ausmus* had delivered to the Secretary of War a piece of the flag that had flown or was flying on Corregidor.  The story goes on to say that when the flag was lowered, Colonel Paul Bunker had cut out a piece of it and sewed it into his jacket as a souvenir; that in prison camp, Col. Bunker had cut that piece in two and gave Col. Ausmus one half of it with the agreement if one of them made it back they would present it to the Secretary of War or some tale close to what I have just outlined.

Since I was present during the lowering of the flag, I did not see anyone cutting a piece of the flag - all I saw was the removal of the flag from the rope and thrown into a fire that had already been started and the flag was completely burned. 

The lowering of the flag was begun at exactly 12 PM, May 6, 1942 on Col. Bunker's order.  

The lowering of the flag was a very quiet and sombre procedure.  To the best of my recollection, Col. Bunker, Lt. Col. Simmonds, Lt. Col. Edison and Capt. Cooper (Adjutant 59th CAC) were there along with Pvts. Welch (Col. Bunker's orderly and driver) and Derr (Regimental Driver) several other enlisted men (I cannot remember their names) and myself.  The flag was slowly lowered while we all stood at a salute, taken off the rope without it touching the ground and placed in a small bonfire started for this purpose.  When the flag was completely burned, a white sheet was raised in its place.  Not much was said as this was happening, nor later.  We all went back to our respective duties when this was completed.  Nobody pulled down our flag that was flying from the topside flagpole.

All these years I have stated in answer to inquiries, that I did not see any cutting of the flag but that I may have missed seeing it done.  Well, on rereading BUNKER'S WAR, I may have found the answer.

On page 16, Friday 9 January 1942, I quote: "Arranged to hoist a new flag over Corregidor and to sequestrate the one that has been flying as a trophy for the 59th C.A.  It is now tattered and torn and will be a swell regimental trophy".  

The only answer to this problem is that when Col. Bunker determined that we had no choice but to surrender, he took this flag and cut a piece out of it and probably destroyed the rest of it."

 
Shawn Welch

 

 

Your information on Corregidor 's flag is priceless.  It clearly shows that while there is truth in something, another "hidden truth" can account for something that is not possible given the first "truth." This all makes sense to me.  Lots of details get lost in the shuffle over the years. Here is a good one to tag along with your information on Corregidor 's flag.

The 31st Infantry served on Bataan and some of the staff and men made it to Corregidor prior to the fall of Bataan . The Regiment had been in the Philippines for years (since before the 1920's) and also had a posting in China .  One of the possessions of the regiment was a silver bowl with cups known as the "Shanghi Bowl".  It was buried on Corregidor before the surrender.  Well, after the war, senior officers and NCO's of the regiment went back to Corregidor, located and dug up the bowl and cups, and now the bowl resides in the Battalion Conference room of the 31st Infantry....which is now part of 10th Mountain Division (Ft. Drum, NY). The battalion is most likely in Afghanistan now, (one brigade of 10th Mountain is still in the US ).  Suspect the Bowl is in Afghanistan , too, with the battalion, as a sign of respect for our fellow soldiers.

 

 

 

 

This was not it. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEE
- THE SURRENDER - 
A PHOTOGRAPHIC ESSAY 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This coin was found in Bunker's C-1 Tunnel in 2001. 

                                    -      F   O   O   T   N   O   T   E   S       -                                  

FOOTNOTE 1  Letter 12 May 2002 Shelley Zimbler to the Author:

Dear Val,

I have been attempting to research the flag story since 1946 when I first read about it in a Comic Book - True Comics.  In reading Bunker's diary and archives at West Point there is a letter written by Ausmus as to the flag-  Also in Wainwrights own narrative,  he indicated that the flag that Bunker had was consumed by flames when the Japs cremated him. He was not aware of the flag that Ausmus carried from Tarlac to Mukden where he was liberated in 8/24/45 along with my great uncle Col. Abe Garfinkel. 

Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to discuss this with the Col. 

Guess this might just remain a mystery, although your comments certainly put a new perspective on the narrative. The statement made by Ausmus certifies that:

"On or about June 10, 1942, Colonel Bunker asked me to promise him to deliver a message and piece of the flag that flew over Corregidor during the investment, to the Secretary of War in case he did not survive to do it himself. He told me at that time that about 11 o'clock on May 6, 1942,he had received orders from Major General George F. Moore, the Harbor Defense Commander of the Harbor Defenses of Manila and Subic Bay, that Corregidor would surrender at 12 o'clock noon that date and that he Colonel Bunker was to take down the American flag that flew over Corregidor throughout the investment and put up the white flag of surrender and burn the American flag. He further stated that Lieutenant Colonel Norman B. Simmons, C. A. C., and Lieutenant Colonel Dwight Edison, C. A. C.  accompanied him when the flag was taken down, that he had the flag burned, but before burning the flag he had taken a small piece of the flag which he intended to keep and bring back to the United States and turn over to the Secretary of War. He pledged me to secrecy and exacted a promise from me that this flag would be returned to him in case he survived and was able to present the piece which he said he retained in his possession, personally to the Secretary of War. He further informed me that neither Colonel Edison nor Colonel Simmons was aware of the fact that he had retained a piece of the flag, or as far as he knew any person had knowledge of that fact."

 

(

  • "(Photo: Associated Press - 15 Nov 1945 - Secretary of War Robert Patterson (left) and Col. Delbert Ausmus of Sechenectady, N.Y., examine a fragment of the American Flag that was lowered at Corregidor, May 6, 1942, at the War Department in Washington D.C., Nov. 14. Col. Ausmus was entrusted with it by a dying soldier, and he had kept it hidden in a false shirt cuff for three years while he was a prisoner in a Jap prison..."

 

He continues the narrative and tells of Bunker's eventual death on 11 Mar 43.

Just prior to Bunkerís death he was visited by both Wainwright and Moore.  Ausmus also states that Bunker was cremated and was wearing the other part of the flag under his cotton shirt.  Ausmus also felt that he never told Wainwright nor Moore of the flag. He personally delivered the flag remnant to the Secretary of War of 9 November 45. He also states in his letter of certification that he didn't believe that any one else was familiar with the above facts.

The certification statement is on file at West Point .

I have been attempting to get the Point to establish the flag and various documents on display during this 60th year of commemoration. Also think there are enough Survivors here in the area for a seminar and memorial to Bataan and Corregidor . Recently had Ulster County (NY) Legislature establish April as Bataan Death March Memorial Month.

Take care, stay healthy
Shelly Zimbler

FOOTNOTE 2  The Author replies:

Greetings,

I had never seen the certified copy of Col. Ausmus' comments regarding the flag.  I did see a newspaper clipping about his delivery of a piece of the flag that was flying on Corregidor when it surrendered.  There are a couple of statements made in the certified comments that are not compatible with my experience of those events.

One being about the reference that no one was aware that Col. Bunker had cut a piece of the flag before it was burned. All of the people that witnessed this event were within 15 feet of the flag pole and to have had someone cut a piece of the flag without being observed appears impossible to me.  The whole operation would have had to stop and when stopped everyone would have seen what was going on.

The other statement that I find questionable is the reference to Gen. Moore calling Col. Bunker at 11 o'clock on May 6, 1942 and telling him that we were going to surrender at noon on that day.  We all knew we were going to surrender at noon on May 6th much earlier than 11 o'clock .  As a matter of fact, at about 8 AM on May 6th, Col. Bunker ordered Capt. Cooper (his Adjutant) to go to our Headquarters supply room on Topside and destroy the Regimental colors and any documents that we would not want the Japanese to have and upon completing this to meet him at the flag pole on Topside for the lowering of the flag. 

The reason I know this is that Capt Cooper ordered me to go with him and assisted him.

I knew Col Ausmus when he was in the 59th CAC and he was a very good and well respected officer.

Val Gavito

* Quote from Bunkers War, edited by Keith Barlow. 

 

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