Defenders of the Philippines

picture of captivity and picture of release form captivity


Joseph Ward

Joseph Ward Picture Past National Commander

 

 Obituary Joseph Ward taken from the San Antonio Express News February 28, 2005

Joseph Ward was a recipient of the Silver Star Medal during World War II for his gallantry and action during the battle to defend the Philippine Islands on Bataan and a survivor of the Bataan Death March, Joseph A. Ward, Sr., died on Friday, February 25, 2005 at 81 years of age. Known by his friends as Joe, he was a hero to his comrades, as well as to his family. He was born at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. His father, Joseph J. Ward, was from Dublin, Ireland and his mother, Dolores Jimenez Ward, was from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.  Joe proudly called himself a survivor having to experience a difficult childhood, where his mother died when he was only 10 years old.  He enlisted in the Army Air Force in May, 1941, at the age of 17. On April 9, 1942, he and 70,000 other American soldiers were ordered to surrender on the islands of Bataan and Corregidor, which was the largest American army in history to surrender.  While the Japanese pounded Corregidor, they led their prisoners on a forced march out of Bataan, known as the “Bataan Death March.”  Before the “Death March was over, those who survived marched more than sixty miles through extreme heat with no water or food.

Somewhere between 5.000 and 11,000 men never made it to Camp O’Donnell, the first stop for Joe and his buddies.  He survived the horrendous treatment by the Japanese during the ‘Death March’ and was forced to work as a slave for the Japanese Military-Industrial machine in their factories.   Joe often said that he and his comrades ‘experienced horrors no man should ever have seen.’  Joe was a survivor, but he was much more to his family who loved and cherished his commitment to them.    He met his wife, Alice Barbosa Prince, when he returned home from the war.  They had three children.  His many relatives remember his zest for life, his smile and laughter when pulling a practical joke.

Upon returning from the WWII, Joe served as a San Antonio Firefighter.  Because of that experience he could recognize a grass fire from a house fire just by the color of the smoke.  Many times, he would take his children to locate the fire and was frequently the first on the scene, directing neighbors to place water or to go to safety until the fire department could respond.  From the Fire Department, he went to work for the United States Postal Service where he is affectionately remembered by many people on his ‘route.’  He also worked for the United States Weather Bureau and became fascinated by weather.  Joe became known as the family’s “Weatherman” being able to accurately predict the weather for a family event.  Not wanting to transfer out of Texas and relocate his family, Joe made a decision to return to the USPS from where he eventually retired.

However, his retirement was only an opportunity to share more time with his grandchildren, who called him Tata, and other boys and girls.  Joe was invited to present talks and discussions to area schools and organizations on weather, as well his as his WWII experience.  He was honored when his grandson, Luke Scroggins, portrayed Joe and his experience as for a prisoner of war for a history project that became a State finalist in 2001.  Joe gave unselfishly to other veterans, often helping them navigate the Veteran’s Administration system to secure their rightful benefits.