Defenders of the Philippines

picture of captivity and picture of release form captivity

Maurice Mazer,   ADBC Commander

ADBC Commander, 1952-53
Maurice Mazer Picture
Maurice Mazer was born in Pennsylvania March 25, 1913.

Maurice Mazer (Moe)  went into the service in April, 1941, and by June of the same year was stationed at Ft. McKinley in the Philippines. He was assigned tot he first Aircraft Warning Co., a pan of the Philippine Department and Army Air Force.

At the time he went into the service, he was 28 years of age. An old man by Army standards. His life of hell and back was just about to begin. Moe learned his job well, also the ways of the Army, because within a very short time he was promoted to sergeant.

While acting as sergeant-of-the-guard at an Army Air Warning Station on a ridge called Tagay Tay at 6:00 a.m. on

Dec. 8,1941, the field telephone rang in a van that housed the Army's secret radar equipment that was manned by a small crew of technicians. Moe stepped over to the phone and said, "Main Guardpost, Sgt. Mazer, Sir." A voice answered and said, "Hey Moe, I mean Sarge, this is Levis at the radio shack. I just picked up a commercial station's newscast, the Japs have bombed Pearl Harbor."

Moe told his friend to wake up. You must be dreaming. Levis swore it was true. Moe asked him if he was drinking and if he was, did he have some gin, he would be right down for some. Finally, Moe was convinced and started issuing orders to his crew to get out the guards posts and alert the lieutenant and to contact Manila and Neilson Field for information. Also, for all the men to load their weapons.

After breakfast that morning Moe stopped at the supply shed and asked for some heavy firepower; besides his .45 he took a Springfield rifle and a B. A.R. Jap fighters and bombers passed over their outpost but were out of range and Moe and his crew fired their weapons in vain.

At dawn on Dec. 12,1941, the Japs invaded both ends of Luzon and met little or no resistance. The Filipino and American troops rushed forward to meet them but the well-trained Jap troops advanced steadily. The next day the trucks and buses that carried the Filipinos and Americans rolled back, loaded with dead and wounded.

Moe's outfit was ordered to Manila to provide the city with air warning service, as it was the only operating radar unit in the Philippines.

On December 26, Manila was declared an Open City. All troops were gone and radio broadcast informed the Japs that the city wouldn't be defended, but later that day and for the next several days, the Japs bombed and strafed the city.

After the fall of Manila, Moe was given a field promotion to second lieutenant and attached to the 45th Inf.; and then to 5th Interceptor Command, also an infantry outfit.

He was wounded on Bataan in hand-to-hand combat, but he came through and killed the Japanese soldier.  After 13 exhausting days of combat the men in Moe's outfit were ordered to return to their own unit.

On March 12, 1942, Gen. MacArthur left the Philippines, on President Roosevelt's orders, but many men on Bataan felt he had deserted them.

Moe' s company commander told him that he was written up for a Bronze Star after he brought back Filipino troops to the front lines during fighting at Kilometer Post 148.0 after they ran away.

Moe volunteered to bring out a Jap prisoner, and when he did not return for a couple of days, Maj. Mauray of the 45th Inf. reported him lost in action. Moe's mother received a letter from the War Department on Aug. 8, 1942, informing her of this. This same major put Moe in for Silver Star when he finally came back with his live prisoner, but he never received it.

On April 9,1942, the men and women on Bataan packed their few supplies and personal belongings to take with them, and slowly walked down the mountainside to meet the Japs. The Death March started April 13, 1942, with 48,000 American troops.

The Japs punched, jabbed, clubbed, kicked and prodded them at bayonet point to form several rows this was it. They had to spread all of their belongings in front of them on the road. If anyone protested, he was beaten. If he fought back he was dragged across the road and killed, usually beheaded with a sword.


Maurice Mazer later told the Sun-Sentinel in 1997, about witnessing beheadings. " I saw men beheaded for no reason at all.  I still have nightmares.


After many days of the march without food and very little water, exhausted and in weakened condition, Moe and his friend Mark were alternately carrying their buddy Deutsch on their shoulders. Moe was carrying him, with his head down looking at the road, when a Jap truck whirled into him and the bumper and fender hurled the two of them into a ditch. Moe had cracked ribs and an injured back; with help from the others he was able to continue on. The Death March lasted 10 days and nights.

After three days at the first main stop, Camp San Fernando, the Japs buried soldiers alive, brutalized them and then prisoners were put on closed cattle cars, standing room only.  If someone fell down he was taken off and never seen again.

At Camp No. 1, a Japanese officer told them he was sorry to see so many of them survived the march, that they were only saved by an order from his Imperial Majesty; and that they would put into groups of 10, if one escaped the other nine would be killed.

In 1944, Moe's mother was notified that he was a POW.  In 40 months, Moe was allowed to send out four cards.  He was held prisoner in the Philippines and Japan.  After over three years of beatings and torture, the war was over and Moe survived.  He was free again.

On Sept. 16, 1945, Moe made a phone call home saying he was returned to American Military Control.  On Sept. 19, 1945, Moe's mother sent a letter to his brother, "Moe is free.  Let everyone know."


On Oct. 8, 1945, Moe called his mother and said, "Due to arrive Seattle, leaving Manila."


On Oct. 25, 1945, home on Dutch transport Klip Fontaine.  He arrived in Seattle, WA.  Moe was an honorary pallbearer at the funeral of General Jonathan M. Wainwright (Skinny) whom he knew very well.


On June 30, 1946, Moe married his lovely wife, Edith.  They have a son and daughter and three grandchildren. Our Comrade-Hero-Survivor-Soldier was Past National Commander of the "Survivor of Corregidor and Bataan" from 1952-1953.  Serving with Moe as my commander has been a great highlight in my life.  He is truly a great American," Seymour Klein, Jr. Vice Commander, Snyder-Tokson Post No. 459, Boca Raton.


Article from the The Florida Veteran entitled, A Soldier-A Hero-A Prisoner of War A Survivor-Our Commander The Emperor's Prisoner No. 399 Maurice "Moe" Mazer.


Decorations:  Two Bronze Stars, (Army as private 4th class and Air Corps as sergeant), WWII Victory Medal, POW Medal, Distinguished Unit Citation with two Clusters, American Defense Service Ribbon with one Bronze Star, Asiatic--Pacific Ribbon with one Bronze Star, POW Medal, WWII Ribbon with three Stars, Philippine Defense with one Bronze Star and one Commendation Medal.


Decades later, he settled in Century Village west of Boca Raton and remained active in veterans groups all of his life; he was not afraid to speak up about the atrocities he saw during World War II.  “People should know what went on,” Mr. Mazer said. “History books don’t tell you what really happened.”

In 1999, Mr. Mazer joined a lawsuit against Mitsubishi Corp., seeking compensation for labor and injuries he suffered while he was held captive at copper mine at Hanawa (Sendai06B)

Maurice Mazer passed away Nov. 13, 2001 at the age of 88.