Defenders of the Philippines

picture of captivity and picture of release from captivity

George Wonneman

ADBC Commander  1992-1993

George Wonneman picture

George J. Wonneman was born in Maryland July 31, 1918.  He entered Military Service in May 29, 1941.  He went through engineer training at Ft. Belvoir, VA, and then shipped to the Philippine Islands.  He arrived October 23, 1941.

He was assigned to B. Company 803rd Aviation Engineers and built airstrips inn Del Carmen.  After the war broke out in December 8, 1941 he withdrew to Bataan where he helped build two more airstrips.  He was taken prisoner on April 9, 1942 and endured the Bataan death March to Camp O'Donnell.

He left O'Donnell with a detail of engineers and said they were used as pack mules for the Japanese Army. He was sent to Cabanatuan Prison Camp July 8, 1942.  At Cabanatuan, George worked in the kitchen.  He left September 18, 1942 for Japan.  He arrived at HiroHata Camp October 5, 1943 and worked in a steel mill until the end of the war.

He returned to the the US on October 15, 1945 and was discharged from the military January 15, 1946.  He retired after 39 years with the railroad (Pennsylvania, Penn Central, Conrail).  He married Irene Ward and they had three children.

George Wonneman passed away July 17, 1999.  Harold Feiner spoke at his funeral and said, "I knew George when we were both in Cabanatuan.  He saved my life by giving me burnt rice to cure my dysentery.  I worked with him every day that we were at Hirohata.  He has been a loyal friend for all these years. "

George was a past Commander and Chaplain of the ADBC Florida Chapter.  He was a Commander and Board Member of ADBC, a member of the Order of the Moose, Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion

George Wonneman's Address at the Convention in 1992 at San Franciso --
from The Quan, June 1992

Honored Guests, Angels of Bataan, Our Gold Star Mothers, Officers, Members and their guest--It is an hour (honour?) that you have elected me your Commander for the coming year.  I want to thank all the Committee Chairmen for staying on.  With your help and the help of each member we can continue to pursue our plans for the future of our organization.

Fifty years ago were about the darkest days of our lives--defeated and most of us a POW.  We survived three and a half years age as a POW then returned home.  How did we survive and some did not?  They concluded it was the will to live and courage.  Well, here we are in our 50th year with still plenty or courage and one heck of a lot of will to live left.

(Introduced wife and son, daughter-in-law and grandson.)

Thank you again for electing me and until we meet again, May God Bless you all and give you a safe trip home.