Tributes have been paid to the last living Czech survivor of the Bataan Death March, who remains to be going robust at 97.
To mark Karel Aster’s birthday, the Czech Embassy in Manila paid tribute to the heroism of the last volunteer Czech defender of the Philippines.
Czech Ambassador Jaroslav Olša stated it was an honour to commend Aster and his “courageous compatriots, whose names stand alongside their Filipino and American brothers-in-arms.”
Mr Aster was born on May 15, 1920. He was working on the Manila shoe-making manufacturing unit of the Czech conglomerate Bata Co. when Japan invaded in 1940.
Mr Aster instantly grew to become one of 14 Czech males who volunteered to combat the invasion in Bataan and Corregidor.
He ended up in Cabanatuan focus camp and later survived weeks on Japan-bound hell-ships the place prisoners had been held in wretched circumstances.
In a letter dated November 10, 1945, he detailed his expertise as a volunteer within the US Army Service in Manila and as a prisoner of warfare. He additionally depicted in his memoirs the destiny that met different Czech volunteers— seven of whom died both within the Bataan Death March or in captivity.
“The conditions were so terrible it is hard for me to describe them,” he wrote to his dad and mom. “We no longer behaved as human beings and the only thing that helped us survive was one’s instinct for self-preservation. It shows the human can endure more than most animals.”
Aster was finally liberated whereas working as a slave in a Japanese coal mine.
In 2014, he was awarded the Gratias Agit Award, the best civilian award bestowed by the Czech Republic.
The following yr, he was bestowed the Medal of Victory and the Medal of Defence in recognition of his honourable civilian fight service within the Philippines.
The heroism of the Czech volunteers is remembered with memorial on the Capes National Shrine in Tarmac beside the Philippine Scouts and US Memorial.