Albert Brown, the oldest American survivor of the Bataan Death March during WWII, passed away last Sunday of natural causes. He was 105.
After U.S. Major General Edward King surrendered to the Japanese in the Battle of Bataan in the Phillipines in April 1942, nearly 78,000 Filipino and American soldiers (approximately 66,000 Filipino and 12,000 American) were marched to Camp O’Donnell, a Japanese POW camp. The soldiers were in a weakened state due to lack of food and water not to mention sweltering temperatures. Yet some way, some how, Brown survived not only the harrowing 65 mile trek but another three years of captivity. Brown sustained all sorts of illness and injuries during his time as a POW including a broken neck sustained after being thrown down a flight of stairs. After the end of the war, doctors told him he wouldn’t live past 50. Well, he sure showed them, not to mention the Japanese.
It is estimated that between 7,000 to 10,000 American and Filipino soldiers died during the six-day march back in April 1942. Those who didn’t die of starvation and heat exhaustion were shot or bayoneted. Two-thirds of the American soldiers who survived the march did not survive Camp O’Donnell. The fact that Brown not only survived but thrived once he returned home is a testament to his fortitude, resolve and spirit. We can learn a great deal from Albert Brown and other American servicemen who survived the Bataan Death March if we choose.