Defenders of the Philippines

picture of captivity and picture of release form captivity

John Bennett, ADBC Commander

ADBC Commander, 1977-78

John Bennett

John Bennett was born in Long Island, NY on Oct. 16, 1917.  He enlisted in the Army Air Corps on Aug. 20, 1940.  He was assigned to 440th Ordnance unit and became a prisoner of war on May 10, 1942 and was interned at Davao Penal Colony, then to Lasang where 200 men were to build an air strip.  From Lasang  John went on a Hell Ship (the Shinyo Maru) that was going to Japan and the ship was hit by a submarine .  Only 83 of the men made it ashore.

He was discharged on Sept. 8, 1945.  He was married to Dolores Doyle and worked in the restaurant business and then 20 years in the ceramic tile business.  He retired on disability in 1974.  He died of a heart attack on June 1983.

Mr. Bennett designed the Official Commemorative Medal for the ADBC.

Memorial to John Bennett from the Quan by James Cavanaugh

John R. Bennett passed away on June 15th, 1983.  John was a member of the 440th Ordinance and spent two and one-half years as a prisoner of war at Davao Penal Colony until he was sent to Lasang to build an air strip.  He was being transported to Japan aboard a hell ship when it was sunk off the coast of Mindanao on Sept. 7, 1944.  Only 82 men made it ashore of the 750 that were on the hold of that ship.  John was the designer of the official commemorative medallion of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor.

John is survived by his wife Dolores, sister Miriam Joy Brown, nephew Peter Brown and niece Holly Brown.  John was a member of the 19th Bombardment Association, Father Hartigan Council of the Knights of Columbus #5033, 4th Degree Pope John XXIII, and past Commander of Colonel Quigley VFW Post # 959, NYC, NY.

Present at John's wake were Mr. and Mrs. James Cavanaugh (PNC), Mr. & Mrs. Vince Jesuele, Mr. & Mrs. Tony Marangiello, Mr. Thomas Griffen, Mr. Dan DeNobile, Mr. & Mrs. A. Partizio, Mr. & Mrs. A. Senna (PNC), Philip Arslanian (PNC), Mr. and Mrs. John LeClair (PNC), Mr. & Mrs. John Ray (PNC), Mr. & Mrs. Donald Roulett and Mr. and Mrs. Donald Henderson.

The Honor Guard at the Funeral were PNC James Cavanaugh, PNC John LeClair, PNC Philip Arslanian, PNC John Ray, Tony Marangiello, Donald Roulett and Donald Henderson.

I have known John Bennett as a Catholic gentleman.

All of us have known John Bennett to be a fine husband, and we have known him as a good friend. 

I first met John in the early days of 1941, on the first day John entered the United States Army.  It was a day when John and I both were young; a day when neither of us knew what would happen to our youth; a day when none of us, John and I and all our friends could have told one another what was to come in the days ahead.

Today, we all know what happened.

John and I, and so many many of our friends, were called to arms.

We went to war to preserve our freedom.

We went to war for our nation.

We went to war for our mothers and fathers, for our brothers and sisters, for our daughters and sons.

John and I have known defeat.  At the orders of our commander, General Wainwright, we were surrendered, lest more lives were lost.

John was held by the enemy in Mindanao, just as I was held prisoner in Japan.  In 1944, John was to have been transported in a POW ship to a prison camp in Japan.

When, through tragic error, that ship was sunk by American torpedo, John and his comrades attempted to swim to safety.  Most of them drowned or were slain by Japanese machine-gun fire.

John survived.

He survived after swimming for ten hours and finally reaching shore. 

He survived under enemy fire

When John reached land, he found a friendly Filipino to aid him.  He escaped to the hills and fought with the resisting forces.  He was evacuated by American submarine to Australia.

In all of this, he aided his fellow prisoners, by harassing the enemy and preserving morale on the home front, and thus bringing an earlier end to the war.

After the war, John served as a National Secretary and as a National Commander of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor.

And today, all that is history.

Today, John Bennett is dead.

Our comrade, our fellow prisoner, died just a few short days ago.

Thirty nine years ago, John Bennett swam toward a shore, with only his belief in God and his faith in his nation and his friends.

Thanks to that faith, John Bennett just a few short days ago, reached another an a still better shore, sitting with the  Son of God at their Father's right hand, blessed with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

John Bennett is today among the blessed and has reached a shore where sickness, death and fear cannot be found.