Photos by Mary Alice Murphy

On Saturday, June 22, 2019, a ceremony took place at the American Legion Allingham-Golding Post 18 Hall to present a Congressional Gold Medal to the nephew of Jeff Arreus "Jay" Wysong, who dies in a Japanese prisoner of war camp after surviving the Bataan Death March.

Jay Wysong, the honoree's nephew, accepted the medal posthumously for his uncle, whom he never knew.

It took two years trying to do this, the younger Wysong said. "But this is the date to present it. It is 77 years to the day since the death of my uncle, whom I never knew, on June 22, 1942."

Post 18 Commander John Sterle gave opening remarks; Post 18 Color Guard led by Cdr. Leon Edwards posted the colors. A recording of the Philippine National Anthem preceded the singing of the U.S. National Anthem by Lorraine Anglin.

Maj. General Kenneth A. Nava, the adjutant general of the New Mexico National Guard made remarks and presented the medal to Jay Wysong "on behalf of a grateful nation. Thank you for giving me the honor to present this medal. Every member of the Armed Forces who suffered through the Bataan Death March is eligible for this medal. Not only Americans were serving and were captured, but also many, many Filipinos. I was in the Philippines in 2008. Every April 9, the Filipinos remember the date and stop everything to honor those who served, died and survived the Bataan Death March. I believe it was divine intervention that this presentation is made on the anniversary of his death, likely from malnutrition and dysentery. As long as there is a New Mexico National Guard we will remember this service of our guard members."

He presented a National Guard commemorative coin to Post 18 Commander Sterle.

Wysong thanked Nava for honoring his uncle. "Even through I never knew my uncle, I knew the man. I thank everyone, especially the American Legion from the bottom on my heart. And I thank everyone who has served our country."