John Love, Bataan Death March survivor, dies at 91

03/22/2014 8:10 PM

03/24/2014 9:32 AM

John E. Love, a Bataan Death March survivor who lived for a time in Tarrant County and led a campaign to change the caption on a historic march photo from The Associated Press, has died. He was 91.

Love died last week, said Gerry Lightwine, pastor at La Vida Llena, a retirement home where Love lived.

As a 19-year-old member of the New Mexico Guard, Love was one of 75,000 Filipino and American soldiers who were taken captive by the Japanese in World War II when the U.S. forces surrendered in the province of Bataan and Corregidor Island in April 1942.

In all, tens of thousands of troops were forced to march to Japanese prison camps in what became known as the Bataan Death March.

“I was one of the first 300 or 400 off the march to enter Camp O’Donnell, and [prisoners] began dying that same day,” Love told the Albuquerque Journal in a 2009 interview. He estimated he carried more than 1,000 bodies to the graveyard.

For the remainder of the war, Love was forced to work in a Japanese copper mine until being liberated in 1945.

After the war, he enrolled at the University of New Mexico and graduated in 1950. He worked at Conoco for 35 years and lived in El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston and Arlington, with his wife, Laura Bernice Ellis, who died in 2000.

In 2009, Love joined a campaign with other survivors of the Bataan Death March to change the caption on one of the most famous photos in AP’s library about the march. The photo, thought to be of the Bataan Death March, actually was an Allied POW burial detail.

Following a six-month investigation, the AP corrected the caption in 2010, 65 years after the image was first published. AP archivists confirmed Love’s account of the burial detail at a prisoner-of-war camp in the weeks that followed the Death March.

When Love learned of the caption revision in March 2010, he became emotional with a reporter.

“Son of a gun. Isn’t that great?” Love said. “It brings tears to my eyes. It really does.”

Join the Discussion

Fort Worth Star-Telegram is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQ | Terms of Service