Defenders of the Philippines

picture of captivity and picture of release form captivity


George Small  Feb. 28, 1908-Dec. 15. 2007

George Small Picture

George Small was born in Montreal, Canada Feb.28, 1908.  His family moved to New York City and he graduated from high school there.  He attended Cornell University and Polytechnic Institute of New York with a degree in Chemical Engineering in 1935.

He was in the reserves but became active on April 25, 1941. He became a chemical officer at Albuquerque Army Air Field and CO of the  3rd Chemical Co, a service unit of the 19th Bombardment Group/  He arrived with unit in the Philippines on Clark Field.  After his group withdrew to Bataan they dissolved the chemical unit and he became part of the 31st Infantry, Company F.

After being taken prisoner, he went on the Death March.  According to an interview he remembers the Death March and having a ring pulled off his finger by the Japanese.  He has not worn rings since.  He also recalls  the heat and the increasing weight of his helmet. He arrived at Camp  O'Donnell, where he felt conditions and the death rate were the worst.  He transferred to Cabanatuan, and then shipped to Japan in camps Tanagawa. Zentsuji, and Roku Roshi. 

George was honorably discharged  in 1946 and he worked for the California Department of Water Resources and lived in San Diego, CA.  He helped in the construction of the California Aqueduct as a civil engineer. 

He married Hadassa and they had three daughters.  He became a member of the Jewish War Veterans and the ADBC.  After he retired in 1972, he and his wife moved to Reno, Nevada.  His experience from the Bataan taught him to set goals, according to his daughter Gail Ferrell.  Then it was to make to the next kilometer post and later it was goals such as living to be 100.  He made it to 99, just a couple months of his goal.   He lived an active life, running his first 10-kilometer race at 73, and got a computer when he was 80.

A couple of years before he died, he even took a writing class at Truckee Meadows Community College and wrote about his experiences in the war.  His friend, fellow POW Ralph Levenberg, said the day before  George died he was sending another chapter of his war memories.

He was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II victory Medal, Distinguished Unit Badge  with twp Oak Leaf Clusters and POW Medal.

Sources:  Cox, Con, Death March Survivors salute ex-POWs, Reno Gazette-Journal, Reno, NV, 9 April 2004
Quan obituary, March 2008, p. 15, and entry from History of the Defenders of the Philippines, Guam and Wake Islands, Turner Publishing Company.