Bataan Death March survivor dies at age 90 in Kennewick

America lost another hero when James H. Bogart of Kennewick died last week. The Bataan Death March survivor is remembered as a man who was loyal to his family, friends, wartime companions and country. He died Aug. 25.

"He never wanted to be called a hero," said granddaughter Jackie Mahren of Seattle. "He just wanted to be known as a survivor."

She remembers her grandfather as someone who loved to tell a joke, loved to dance and loved to fish.

"He had so much fun and laughter, my memories of him are the greatest," Mahren said. "It was an honor knowing him. I'm very proud of my grandpa. I'll never let my children forget who he was."

Bogart celebrated his 90th birthday in December last year with family and friends at the American Legion post in Pasco with jokes and war stories.

He was born Dec. 16, 1920, in Pine River, Minn., and joined the Minnesota National Guard in 1940. The guard was nationalized the next year and became the Army. Bogart, a staff sergeant with the 194th Tank Battalion, was deployed to the Philippines as a radio technician.

It was peacetime when Bogart arrived, but the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, was just months away. After the attack, he and his fellow soldiers fought the Japanese in the Philippines' Bataan Peninsula for three months before the order was given to surrender April 9, 1942.

Bogart was one of the thousands of American and Filipino soldiers forced to march in the infamous and grueling Bataan Death March in 1942. They marched for miles to prison camps.

At his birthday party last year, Bogart told a Herald reporter how supplies ran low and then disappeared, how the Japanese killed anyone who fell down and couldn't march, how people starved to death and their bodies lined the way to a nearby cemetery.

When the order for surrender was signed, Bogart weighed 130 pounds. Two weeks later, he believed he weighed about 95 pounds and counted himself one of the lucky ones.

Bogart was one of about 700 American prisoners of war who survived being imprisoned at Camp Mukden in Manchuria (Japanese-controlled China) for three years.

He was liberated and returned to the United States in October 1945.

In an email to the Herald, Richard Davis, captain of American Legion Post 34 Honor Guard in Pasco, wrote, "Jim was one of the last survivors of the Bataan Death March. Searching on the internet I found that two other survivors have passed in the month of August. I know a few years ago, there were less than a dozen of them still alive."

Bogart married Hazel Meger and moved to Kennewick in 1950. She died May 13, 2009.

He was a union carpenter and retired in 1982.

Bogart had three children -- the late Don Skinner, Barbara Bruegeman of Lewiston, Idaho, and Patty Head of Seattle. He had nine grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.

Services, with military honors, will be 1 p.m. Saturday at Mueller's Tri-Cities Funeral Home, 1401 S. Union St., Kennewick. In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations be made to Camp Patriot, camppatriot.org.