History of the Association
In the spring of 1976, Ben Saccone (SGT, 194th Tank Battalion, Bataan, 1941-1942), past Commander of the Western States Chapter, American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, was shopping at the Post Exchange at Fort Ord, California and discovered that an active duty battalion of the 31st Infantry was stationed at the post. He contacted the battalion commander to ask if he was interested in meeting some Bataan-era veterans of the regiment. Two attended the 2nd Battalion’s Organization Day celebration that August and in 1978, 15 veterans of the regiment and their wives attended that year’s Organization Day celebration.
Because the 31st Infantry Regiment had no veterans’ association, Bill Sniezko ( SGT, B Company ), Wayne Lewis (CPL, D Company, Bataan), John Lyons (PFC, HHD 2nd Battalion, Bataan) started one with their wives’ secretarial support and the Western States Chapter, American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor’s mailing list. The association’s first business meeting was held in conjunction with the 2nd Battalion’s Organization Day celebration in 1979, beginning a partnership between the regiment’s active duty battalions and the association. Over the years, the 2nd Battalion at Fort Ord; 6th Battalion at Fort Irwin, California; and 4th Battalion at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and later Fort Drum, New York all kept that partnership strong by inviting veterans to its events. The Shanghai Bowl and its active duty honor guard were present at each annual reunion, symbolizing the bond between the regiment’s past and present members and preserving regimental traditions. Through the efforts of BG (Ret) Pat Ramey (HHC, Philippines and Shanghai, 1932-1935), the Association was chartered as a non-profit organization by the State of Arkansas.
The Association’s members placed a plaque on the World War II Military Memorial at
Mount Samat (Bataan Peninsula, Luzon Island, Philippines) saluting all who served with the regiment in the Philippines from 7 December 1941 to 9 April 1942. A granite Polar Bear memorial was dedicated at the opening of the new National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, Georgia in August 2011, saluting all who served with the 31st Infantry Regiment and its successor battle groups and battalions since 1916.