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Camp O'Donnell was a Prisoner of War (POW) camp for American and Filipino soldiers captured by Japan during its successful invasion of the Philippines in World War II. About 60,000s Filipino and 8,000 Americans were housed at the camp. During the few months in 1942 that Camp O'Donnell was used as a POW camp, about 22,000 Filipinos and 1,500 Americans died there of disease, starvation, neglect, and brutality.
Located near Capas, Tarlac, Camp O'Donnell was originally a Philippine Army post and later a United States Army camp. After World War II it became a base of the United States Air Force. It is now a Philippine Army installation. It houses the Training and Doctrine Command's Officer Cadet School, NCO Academy, and Headquarters and Headquarters Service Battalion.
World War II. Camp O'Donnell was the destination of the Filipino and American soldiers who surrendered after the Battle of Bataan on April 9, 1942. The Japanese took approximately 75,000 prisoners: 65,000 Filipino and 10,000 American soldiers. The prisoner were forced to undertake the Bataan Death March of approximately 145 kilometres (90 mi) to arrive at Camp O'Donnell. Many soldiers died during the march and the survivors arrived at Camp O'Donnell in extremely poor condition.
The first Filipino and American POWS arrived at Camp O'Donnell on April 11, 1942 and the last on June 4, 1942. There was a constant movement in and out of the camp as the Japanese transferred prisoners to other locations on work details. In June, most of the POWs were sent to other POW camps and O'Donnell was officially closed on January 20, 1943.
When it was transferred to the US Air Force, it became home to the 3rd Tactical Electronic Warfare Training Squadron, the Pacific Air Forces Electronic Warfare Range, and the Crow Valley Range Complex. Operating Location Delta (OL-D) of the 1961st Communications Group was also located at Camp O'Donnell. OL-D provided communications support to Camp O'Donnell, the Crow Valley Range Complex, worldwide high-frequency military transmitters and microwave relay support Voice of America broadcasts out of the Philippines.
The former internment camp is the location for the Capas National Shrine which was built and is maintained by the Philippine government as a memorial to the Filipino and American soldiers who died there. A huge obelisk now stands as a grave marker on the original site of the camp, which charges an entrance fee of less than Ph₱20 per head.
- Beckenbaugh, Lisa and Harris, Heather, "Casualties of the Philippines POW Camps O'Donnell and Cabanatuan and the history of their burials," http://bataanmissing.com/wp-includes/files/Cabanatuan_History.pdf, accessed 4 Apr 2016
- Beckenbaugh and Harris, pp. 2-3
- O'Donnell Provost Marshal Report
- Capas National Shrine page on the site of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office