After General Douglas MacArthur, over his fiery objections, was ordered to leave Bataan during the Japanese conquest of the Philippines, Lieutenant General Jonathan Wainwright was left in command, putting up a heroic fight until forced to surrender his starving, diseased ridden force. Wainwright was the only American general to be captured by the Japanese and he endured the hell on earth that was Japanese prison camps, where some 37% of Allied prisoners died of starvation and the brutality of their captors. Wainwright insisted on sharing the privation of his men, and risked his life many times to intervene on behalf of his fellow prisoners with their captors.
After he was liberated, he was a walking skeleton. Douglas MacArthur gave him the signal honor of featuring prominently in the surrender ceremony by which Imperial Japan capitulated.
After he returned home he was promoted to four star rank and retired to a successful business career. He received the Medal of Honor as a tribute to the heroic leadership he displayed during the battle for Bataan. In the fall of 1945 he wrote the following Thanksgiving Prayer:
Oh, God, our Father, today we give Thee thanks for the things we take for granted, for freedom, for security of life, for food and shelter, and the presence of loved ones…. We thank Thee that once again men may have hope, opportunity to work and plan for a better future, a chance to secure peace, and an ampler life for themselves and their children.
Keep us humble in the day of victory, make us wise in the presence of great problems, strong and brave in the face of any danger, and sympathetic and generous as we face the appalling need of a war-torn world.
In gratitude for all those who paid the price of victory we now ask Thy guidance as we dedicate ourselves to that cause for which they gave their last full measure of devotion. Lord of Hosts, be with us yet, lest we forget!