Skip to comments.Passing of WWII POW - Bataan Death March Survivor (Vanity)
Posted on 06/21/2012 11:26:56 AM PDT by PGR88
John S. Zale, a decorated Army veteran, former prisoner of war and retired carpenter, died unexpectedly Sunday in his North Tonawanda home. He was 90.
Born John Zubrzycki in Lackawanna and raised there, Mr. Zale went to Lackawanna schools until the eighth grade, when he took a job with a painter so his family had one less mouth to feed at home.
At 18, he enlisted in the Army and was stationed with the 31st Infantry Regiment in the Philippines, where he was severely wounded during the early stages of World War II.
Following surgery at a field aid station, Mr. Zale returned to his unit and was promoted to the rank of sergeant in charge of 64 soldiers.
He was among the American forces to be captured by the Japanese, then survive the Bataan Death March. He spent more than three years as a POW until the end of the war.
(Excerpt) Read more at buffalonews.com ...
Read “Ghost Soldiers”.
It saddens me to see so many WWII veterans passing every day. Both of my parents were WWII veterans (My father saw a lot of combat in the Pacific: Guadalcanal, etc.). My mother served stateside as a Navy WAVE. My father died back in 1994, my mother passed away just last year. I miss them - and their incredible WWII stories - terribly.
Thank you for sharing his story, and may he rest in peace.
In my childhood years, I was fascinated by JWs “Back to Bataan” movie....I must have seen it at least a dozen or more times. I remember in the movie when credits were rolled or somewhere in the movie, scenes were filmed of the death march (re-enacted)....in the scenes were multiple survivors of the actual death march....I wonder if Mr. Zale was in any of the scenes.
RIP Mr. Zale.
God bless Mr Zale.
RIP Mr. Zale, and thank You.
It was a nice way to honor them though... the kind of thing Hollywood did back then.
Yes, you’re likely right...but I do remember the specific credits....at least 5 or 6 survivors filmed....
Either that, or I’ve finally gone bat sh!t crazy with Alzheimers.....
One of my patients in the VA Anticoagulation clinic was a Batan Death March survivor. I asked his permission to inquire from him about the experience. He said, “okay.”
I asked what was the difference in those that survived the camp and those that did not? His answer was, “When you gave up you died.”
I asked what keep him going? His answer was, “The only way I had to defy the Japanese was to live one more day each day.”
He was a kind and gentle man with a soft voice. However, he was a hell of a man. He is what is called a Mans Man. I would hope that I can be half the man he was and is.
The film took 130 days to shoot based on the rapidly changing news of the time. Two thirds of the way through filming, the invasion of the Philippines occurred, causing several script changes and rewrites in order to keep up with current events. The Raid at Cabanatuan and release of prisoners was also rapidly incorporated into the screenplay with scenes of a recreation of the 6th Ranger Battalion attacking the prison camp placed on the beginning of the film with appearances of recently-released prisoners added to the end of the film.
So with jaded and hopeful determination, I postpone my "I must be bat sh!t crazy...." comment..... hee hee....
I was once told by Mr. Zale that they survived in groups of 3. 2 men alone wasn’t enough to do what needed to be done. 4 was too many.
3 men were just enough - to keep lookout for guards while others foraged for food, gains could be easily divided among 3 men without dispute. 2 could carry one man if the 3rd was ill, etc... When someone died, groups would reform, they would “adopt” orphans of other groups, etc...
Don’t apologize for posting such a story. Sounds like a wonderful man.
RIP, American hero.
From Wiki: Approximately 2,50010,000 Filipinos and 300650 American prisoners of war died before they could reach Camp O'Donnell.
Wow. My uncle was on that march, and was never heard from again.
To think he could have lived this long.
I never doubted you...
No, he wasn't. He was liberated by the Russians in Northeast China in August 1945.
And as I drive down the main highway in my town each day I still see all three car dealerships with lots 1/3 full, the closed out tractor and farm implement dealer, the reduced inventory John Deere store, and a host of other empty and closed businesses and stores. While I'm driving then, I hear the WSB financial puppet talking each day how everything is looking rosy (in the markets, world finances, economy, jobs), or the AJC 'Truth Squad' lying their liberal asses off.... I just don't get it.
On the other hand I'm worried I've been coming across as a paranoid conspiratorialist to my family - I see leftwingers under the stairs.
Its not that they aren't there, either. Its that not everyone recognizes them:)
Just saw this. Incredibly, he was my scout master when I was a kid and I went to school with his son
My late father, John Zale, told me the older-looking American POW pictured with what looks like a woven basket in his lap was a fellow infantryman from the 31st Inf. on Bataan. The man’s name escapes me now, but he was an older career soldier from New York City. He died in my father’s arms in the POW camp at Cabanatuan. The photo grips me every time i see it. Dad said they would have gone “all the way” and fought to the death, but the brass decided surrender on “humanitarian grounds” would be preferrable to wholesale, Alamo-style slaughter. Humanity wasn’t present there.
Thanks. I always wondered how they made out.
I read a lot of that fight and more than one survivor said that had they known what was in front of them, they would have gone out Alamo-style.
I always thought we got the crap beat out of us, but in reading one definitive, IMO, book about Bataan, we put up one Helluva fight, despite the lack of food and medicine.
Hi Oatka...thanks for looking into what the “Battling Bastards of Bataan” went through to continue protecting our country and “buying time” for recovery after Pearl Harbor in killing as many enemy troops as possible before giving their lives if they had to. My father said the defenders of Bataan “went for broke,” in that they knew they were laying their lives on the line every day.
My father was severely wounded (”gut shot” as they say)but somehow left that field hospital to rejoin his unit (Co. C/1st Battalion/31st Inf. Regiment)and fight while still stitched up. He also was one who said they would’ve rather gone down “Alamo style” if they had only known what subhuman and ungodly horrors lay ahead. How he survived it all to become the great father and caring person he was, i’ll never know. He’s been gone a year now and I just came back from visiting his humble grave...no monument or testimony there to what he survived and did.
Thank you from the very bottom of my heart...maybe I know who you are...your handle doesn’t give a clue, but THANKS!!
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