|May 23, 2013
Warren Gardipe: remembering a tribal veteran from WWII
By Ernestine Roullier Ducheneaux
While many young men and a few women here on the Rez were volunteering to join the armed forces on December 8, 1941, the day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, young Warren Gardipe of Arlee was already fighting the Japanese in the Philippines.
Warren, a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, was the oldest of three sons born to Joseph Gardipe, Sr., and Agnes Ladderoute Gardipe. He joined the Army in Butte in October 1940. Warren did his basic training at Fort Ord, CA. He was a private in the quartermaster corps of the US peace time Army in Luzon in the Philippines in 1941.
The Japanese attacked the Philippines by air, 10 hours after they attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Sixteen thousand American troops were in the Philippines under the command of General Douglas MacArthur. As in Pearl Harbor, the American aircraft were totally destroyed on the ground. Without air cover, the American Asiatic fleet withdrew on December 12, 1941, leaving Warren and his comrades stranded.
MacArthur concentrated his troops on the Bataan Peninsula to await reinforcements. With the destruction in Hawaii, relief never came. Japanese ground forces arrived on December 22, 1941. Needless to say, the fighting was desperate. The ammo ran out, the food and medical supplies ran out. The Japanese penetrated the American’s first line of defense and they began to retreat.
On April 9, 1942, the American forces, crippled by starvation and disease, surrendered to Japan. Thus began the nearly 75 mile trek, known as the Bataan Death March.
Research shows that the Japanese captors were brutally cruel. As many as 7,000 men died on the 6 day march. But the warrior, Warren Gardipe, walked the entire 65 miles to the railroad where he and the others who made it were crowded into boxcars so tightly they couldn’t sit. When the train reached the end of the line, they walked another 7 miles to Camp O’Donnell concentration camp, where Warren finally succumbed to dysentery and malaria on May 3, 1942.
Warren’s remains were returned to us in 1949. He was re-interred with full military honors at the St Ignatius catholic Cemetery among the Gardipes and the Ladderoutes.