Bataan Death March survivor, John Love, is dead at the age of 91. Love is known not only as a survivor of the march, but also for his involvement in a campaign effort to change the caption of a photo taken of the march by The Associated Press. Loved passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer.
Love was a member of the Guard in the state of New Mexico and was one of thousands of soldiers that were taken captive by Japanese forces during the second World War. The soldiers were taken as a result of the United States handing over control of the province of Bataan to the Japanese in 1942. It is believed that tens of thousands of soldiers were taken to prison camps during the Bataan Death March. Many of the troops were denied basic necessities, which caused many to grow weak with hunger and thirst. Wounds were not properly cared for or treated. Soldiers that collapsed as a result of these poor conditions were often killed.
Bataan March survivor, John Love, recounted his experience of the march before his death at 91. Love was part of the first group to arrive at Camp O’Donnell, one of the Japanese prison camps, and many of the troops who arrived with him began to die the very first day they arrived. Love believed that he carried close to a thousand dead soldiers to a graveyard during his time at the prison camp. Love was forced to work in a Japanese mine for several years until he was finally freed in 1945.
Upon arriving back home, Love enrolled in college and graduated in 1950. He spent 35 years working and living in various parts of Texas with his wife, who passed away in 2000.
In 2009, a campaign was started by those who survived this horrible event, including Love, began a campaign to fix a caption to a popular photo taken by the AP. The caption claimed that the photograph was of the Bataan Death March, but in reality, it was a burial detail. After a rigorous investigation that lasted six months, the AP corrected the mistake, 65 years after the photograph had been published. When news of the change reached Love, he was overcome with emotion, stating that the change to the caption brought tears to his eyes.
It is ever more critical that as generations become older, society does not forget these monumental events, such as the Bataan Death March, and the individuals who had their lives changed forever by becoming a part of history. Looking at the lives of individuals like Love reminds us to look back at the atrocities that mankind has participated in and endured, as an example of how humanity has failed, learning lessons that can help prevent such events from occurring again in the future. History is meant to be a schoolmaster, but are people being good students, listening to the stories and truths passed down to us from generations who have lived through these nightmares? One can only hope that more people will examine the lives of heroes like Bataan Death March survivor, John Love, now dead at 91, and will be inspired to right the wrongs, no matter how small, that have been forgotten in time.
by Michael Cantrell