Skip to comments.Bataan Death March survivor awarded Bronze Star, Purple Heart
Posted on 12/17/2008 8:15:43 PM PST by Dysart
Charles Dragich survived the fighting in the Philippines, the Bataan Death March, a "hell ship," two bouts of malaria, near starvation, an air raid and slave labor.
He emerged from a Japanese prisoner of war camp in 1945 at half his normal weight of 160 pounds, then promptly re-enlisted. He wore the uniform of the Army, and later the Air Force, for 26 years, retiring in 1964 as a chief master sergeant.
Rather improbably and inexplicably, Dragich left the military without any decorations for fighting and surviving one of World War IIs most inhumane episodes a forced 65-mile march in which thousands perished.
But on Wednesday, the 92-year-old Dragich received his due.
Army Lt. Col. Ronnie Williamson, commander of the Dallas/Fort Worth recruiting battalion, pinned a Bronze Star, Purple Heart, POW Medal and Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal on Dragich during a ceremony in Arlington attended by several dozen family members and friends.
"Mere words cannot measure the amount of gratitude we have for your service to our nation," Williamson said. "Your sacrifices and the sacrifices of your comrades during World War II and the Bataan Death March have paved the way for many of us serving today, including myself. So, please, let these medals represent just a token of our countrys appreciation for all that you have done."
Dragich, one of only a few hundred men still alive who survived the Bataan Death March, said he had accomplished everything he had ever wanted in life, without the medals.
He survived captivity, fathered seven daughters, worked in flight operations at General Dynamics, earned a commercial pilots license, and even served as a translator for the Romanian gymnastics team on a trip to the U.S. Thats a pretty full life by any measure.
"You know, I could not speak English in the first grade," he said. "I failed first grade."
(Excerpt) Read more at star-telegram.com ...
Command Sgt. Maj. David D. Holmes spends time with World War II veteran Chief Master Sgt.-retired Charles Dragich after a ceremony Wednesday in which Dragich received medals for his service.
This is an incredible story of an incredible man. BTW, Chief Master Sgt.-retired Charles Dragich is on the right in the photo above. ;)
Amazing. Long overdue.
Three cheers for this hero.
God bless this man.
What took so long? At least he was awarded them...
My experience as well. I’ve encountered quite a few old WWII battle veterans in my business and most of them have been reticent about their experiences, and those who have been more forthcoming, exceptionally modest. But one man sticks in my memory. He would frequently ramble in agonizing detail about battles, blood, the horror, the noise, with tears streaming down his face and a look of shock as if fresh from the battle. Poor guy was still tormented. And he rarely engaged in normal conversation, but when he was recounting- actually reliving those memories- it was surreal. That must have been 12 or so yrs ago now.
Thank you for the uplifting article about a very brave American.
"He knew he had earned at least some of the medals, but didnt really pursue a correction in his records because "I was not hard over on medals."
Humble to boot.
53% of Americans could’nt shine this mans shoes.
This man reflects the best of America and humanity. he could have griped about F.D.R. etc. No, too much hnor here.
Now back to the whining cowardly sludge of Obama’s America..
Coming out of in in one piece would be reward enough.
And living to a vigorous ninety-two.
Honor Mr.Dragich and the other Bataan Death March survivors and those who died by joining about 4000 other people in March 2009 at White Sands Missile Base. We will be making or way on the annual Memorial Bataan Death March through 26.2 miles of rolling! desert on the Base.
Visit with a few of the remaining survivors on Saturday before the March and shake their hands again at the beginning and end of the march. IT is an awe inspiring event.
That is very, very cool. Thanks for sharing the info, and yes, they are vanishing. Passing, I should say.
Guys like Dragich “built up” the US Military after WW2.
The man deserves another medal!
My father earned 2 PH’s and a Bronze Star in The Battle Of The Bulge. Although when he was alive he rarely spoke of that time or his honors, what I know of his medal qualifications (bravery in combat) has always made me proud to be his son. This Death March survivor surely has earned his decorations too, yet a few pieces of metal and ribbon seems so inadaquate for such devotion and sacrifice for my freedom!
I was able to FINALLY able to get my dad to talk about WWII with me. He is 86. He is a Navy veteran and flew F-4U Corsair’s during the war. I guess he figured that I would be able understand now that I am crowding 60. I had asked him about it for many years. He begged me not to go into the service. He told me that after what he, and my uncle’s went through that us kids shouldn’t have to go to war. My dad is the only one of his immedate family and friends who served that is still alive.
Read ghost solders it is an eye opener as to what these guys went through. God Bless them.