Defenders of the Philippines

picture of captivity and picture of release from captivity

Capt. Damon Gause


Damon Gause picture 

New York Times Review of the book written by Gause called The War Journal of Major Damon "Rocky" Gause

 Damon Gause survived a daring escape from both Bataan and Corregidor, but then perished in the European theater of the war in a flying mission over Germany.

Damon Gause was born June 17, 1915 in Fort Valley, Georgia.  He graduated from Martin Institute High school in Jefferson, and then attended the University of Georgia in Athens, but flying and boxing overtook academic interests.  After one year of college, he enlisted in the US Coast Guard, serving as a radioman on the USCG Cutter Argo.  Then he joined the Army  Air Corps,  where he served in Panama. Next, he worked for the Texaco Oil Company in Columbia.  In 1939, he went to Georgia.  In 1941, he returned to to the Army Air Corps.  He qualified for flight training, got his wings and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant at Kelly field.  He then went to Savannah Georgia, training on A-24 dive bombers.  He met and married Ruth Evans at the time.


The 27th Bombardment Group got reassigned to the Philippines, arriving in the area in November, 1941.  He was pushed back to Bataan, and was on Bataan when it was surrendered.  He managed to get away from his captors by attacking a guard, and killing him.  Then he swam to Corregidor and led a machine gun squad. When Corregidor capitulated he escaped again, and set out on a boat to  Luzon with Lt Arranzaso, a Filipino pilot.  A Filipino  scout also joined the craft.  Arranzaso was wounded by a shot. An enemy fighter sank his boat, and he swam until he made his way to Mindoro Island, but the officer Arranzaso gave up before they reached the shore.  The scout had swum ahead to look for a boat.  After help from the Filipino natives, he recovered physically and decided to make an  attempt  to go to Australia.

He met up with William Osborne who decided to join him.  Their journey lasted for 159 days and they covered over 3,000 miles.
They found a 22-foot sailboat with a temperamental engine. At a stop on Bugsanga, they found a former marine engineer in a leper colony  who helped them repair their engine They killed a guard at a Japanese lighthouse and took his flag, which saved them on many occasion.  They went from island to island and had help from the inhabitants.  Coconuts provided their main source for water.  They even got moisture from a shark they killed as well as raw fish.  

They survived typhoons that damaged their boat, as well as fire from an enemy fighter that set their boat in flames.  An Australian boat finally picked them up.  They were taken to see General Douglas McArthur who was quite shocked to see them.  Gause received the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroic behavior.    

Damon Gause returned home to promote war bonds and was there for the birth of his son, Damon L.Gause in December, 1943, but returned to the war in Europe where he died on March 9, 1944 on a test mission for the P-47 plane.  He wrote  a journal before going back to war. Young Damon's mother let him read his father's diary from time to time, but as he got older and realized its importance, he decided to see about getting it published.  In 1999, his efforts paid off and his father's book was published.