Defenders of the Philippines

picture of captivity and picture of release from captivity

Joseph Poster, ADBC Commander

ADBC Commander, 1976-1977

Joseph Poster Picture
Joseph Poster was born May 22, 1920 in Thomsonville, CT.  He entered the Armed Forces at Camp New Cumberland, PA, June 14,1941.  He was stationed at Ft. Belvoir, VA until Sept. 23, 1941. then he  transferred to Fort McDowell, CA.  On Oct. 4, 1941 overseas aboard the Tasker H. Bliss, arriving in the Philippines on October 23, 1941. 

He was assigned to Co. B. 803rd Engineers at Del Carmen Field. He was pulled back into Bataan, Dec 22, 1941.    He remained in  Bataan until its capture on April 9. 1942.  He made the infamous Bataan Death March, arriving at Camp O' Donnell April 19, 1942.

Joseph Poster started the march with a canteen full of water, a mess kit, a good pair of shoes, and a pith helmet for sun protection.  In his  backpack, he had the Catholic prayer book  the army gave him, some clothes and a pair of boots.  The Japanese took the helmet.  Poster held onto his prayer book and in a story for  The Morning Call, Allentown, PA, he was  photographed  with his prayer book , as well as some rosary beads some Belgian nuns gave him in the Philippine Mountains.

He was taken from Camp O' Donnell April 21, 1942 to Baguio where he worked on a mountain detail from Baguio to Bontoc until August 2, 1942.  He went back to Cabanatuan and then left for the Port Area on Oct. 5, 1942. In the camp, he contracted malaria, suffering from a 105 fever in 115 degree heat with six blankets on, shivering all the while.   He boarded the Tottori Maru and arrived in Mukden, Manchuria on Nov.12, 1942 after going through Formosa, and Chosen (Chosin) , Korea.  He worked at the MKK machine shop and foundry.  He said it was bitter cold in Mukden  The temperature would drop to below -60 degrees, and the first winter 350 men died.  Poster suffered from nephritis and went to the prison hospital where he lay unconscious for two weeks.  He was liberated on August 20, 1945, by the OSS Parachute Rescue team and Russian troops.  He was discharged from the Army on Jan. 23, 1946 at Indiantown Gap, PA.  He received a bronze star from the Army.

He graduated from Industrial Management Institute Management Engineering, worked for Pottstown Co. that made drive shafts for trucks and then began a job at Mack truck in 1956.  He retired from Mack Trucks where he had been a manager in engineering, in June 1982.  After he retired, he served as a volunteer claims service officer for the Veterans Administration in Allentown, PA.  Poster returned to the Philippines in 1967.  He was a member of St. Thomas More Catholic Church, in Salisbury Township.  In addition to being an ADBC commander, he was a member of the Honorary First Defenders, the American Legion and the Chapel of the Four Chaplains, Philadelphia.

David Venditta from the Morning Call remembers interviewing him for The Morning Call became a friend of Joe's after meeting with him to do a series on veterans.  Venditta said Poster remained calm during the interviews but that he was troubled about how his country had left the defenders of Bataan to surrender or die.  Venditta said, "Once he was telling me about a wretched camp called Cabanatuan, and his words stopped abruptly.  Some distant horror darkened his face and filled his eyes. He stared at me, but through me.  I thought I was looking into his soul, and felt a chill."

He married Helen Pawkewicz who passed away in 1999.  He died May 30, 2003.  Father McEduff helped with his funeral mass at the St. Thomas More Church.  The military ceremony followed at Cedar Hill Memorial Park.  Then Joe was laid to rest at Forest Hills Memorial Park near Reading.

How Do You Say Goodbye?    from Joe Vater in July, 2003 Quan

How can you say goodbye to a buddy you have known for the last 62 years? Joe Poster was a friend, a buddy, a good soldier, a gentleman, a person you could rely on, a person you wanted to be around. Joe wasn’t much for publicity, but he knew how to get things done and do them properly. He was permanent secretary of our Investment Fund and provided the ADBC a return on its investments. Through all these bad years, he served as chairman of the Nomination Committee.  He also arranged the tri-state chapter meetings in Lancaster, PA. Joe passed away with his family present.He just slipped away, the way all of us hope to go. So  long buddy.

Joe Poster's  Acceptance Speech Published in the 1976 Quan

34 years ago in the month of April and in the months and years that followed, we here tonight were chosen by God ot have our lives continued.

Let us therefore, as survivors, rededicate ourselves to our county, our organization, and most of all to the memory of our fallen brothers.

Those of us here many never be fully capable of understanding why we were allowed to live while others perished, but that we did, should make us ever mindful of the true meaning of life and comradeship.

With these thoughts in mind, I promise you in this Bicentennial year of our great nation, I will, as your National Commander, dedicate my every resource and effort to the perpetuation of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor.

Our task as an organization is really quite simple.  That is, in the words of one of our great leaders--  "That they shall not have died in vain"--we stand as an example against aggression of one nation against another and as a reminder, for all the people on earth, of man's capability toward his fellowman.

I humbly accept the responsibility as National Commander of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor and--thank you for the trust you have shown in me by assigning me this great honor.

                                                                                                                        J.T. Poster

                                                                                                                         National Commander