CAPAS, Tarlac (Aug. 25, 2023) — A new marker was erected at the Capas National Shrine to honor 14 Czechoslovak soldiers who fought side by side with Filipinos and Americans during World War II.
The names of the 14 Czechoslovaks – Jan Bžoch, Pavel Fuchs, Leo Hermann, Jaroslav Hrdina, Fred Lenk, Hans Lenk, Josef Vařák, Antonín Volný, Karel Aster, Karel Dančák, Bedřich “Fred“ Herman, Otto Hirsch, Arnošt “Ernest“ Morávek, and Norbert Schmelkes – laid down their lives in the name of freedom.
In 1941, the Czechoslovaks in Manila volunteered to join the Philippine and US forces as their own homeland was already occupied by the ally of Japan, Germany, as they wanted to hold off the forthcoming Japanese invasion.
The foreign heroes fought and died in the defense of Bataan while some died during the infamous Death March, a 105-kilometer march from Mariveles to Capas, where as many as 18,000 Filipinos and 650 US soldiers also died.
The Czech Republic Embassy’s economic and trade counselor Maroš Martin Guoth led the unveiling of the granite marker. Department of National Defense Asst. Sec. Antonio Bautista, National Historical Commission of the Philippines Commissioner Lino Dizon, Tarlac Governor Susan Yap, local Mayor Roseller Rodriguez, and Col. Agerico Amagna from the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office graced the event.