John E. Duffy
             Huron and Seneca Counties
                   U.S. Army- WWII

            

 


Survivor of the Bataan Death March after being bayoneted and left for dead. Fought with guerrilla units for several months before again being captured and sent to provost jail. Naval officers requested he be assigned as the Catholic Chaplain at the POW hospital where he offered daily Mass, Communion, the Rosary and visitations. Father Duffy was appointed as pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in New London, Ohio in 1947 where he remained until his retirement, March 27, 1958, due to health reasons. Father Duffy was a past Commander of American Legion Post 292, New London, when he was appointed National Chaplain in 1952. He was also a Chaplain of the State of Ohio American Legion.


Articles & Photos

Father Duffy's Plaque Goes to New London - January 6, 1999

Father John E. Duffy, a St. Wendelin priest in the late 1920s, who was recently inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame. Father Duffy was an authentic American hero during World War II. He assisted in the defense of Pearl Harbor and survived the Bataan Death March in spite of being twice bayoneted. He escaped to serve with Filipino guerrillas before being recaptured by the Japanese.
From 1943 until the war's end, he was interned in several Japanese POW camps.
Throughout his imprisonment, he selflessly ministered to the spiritual and physical needs of other prisoners.

On Dec. 14, a delegation from the Seneca County Veterans Commission presented the plaque to the New London Broome-Wood American Legion Post 292. Attending were Joe Gehring, Tom Evans, Tom Gernert, Jim Rochester and Jim McAuliffe.
Following his discharge from the Army in 1946, Father Duffy became pastor of New London's Our Lady of Lourdes Church, a position he held until his death. In addition, Father Duffy served as Commander of Post 292, 1947-49. He was also the Legion National Chaplain in 1952-53 and Chaplain of the State of Ohio American Legion.
So it was fitting that the plaque honoring his service should find a permanent place in the community that knew him best.
Joe Gehring presented the plaque to Post 292 Commander Ted Mahl.

"I knew Father Duffy when I was 10 or 11 years old," said Joe. "He came to visit me. I had double pneumonia and he gave me last sacraments. That always stuck with me. He tapped me on the left knee, I'll never forget it. He said, 'You're going to make it, kid."

Commander Mahl said that Father Duffy was "a true American and a true humanitarian...and we all share in this great man's life."

Father Duffy is still remembered by several New London residents.
Former New London mayor Gerald Fowden recalled, "Father Duffy was interested in all the affairs of the village and he was one fine gentleman."
"He was a powerful personality, but not overwhelming and always polite," said former teacher Rock Laborie. "He was also quite a musician."

Father Duffy was also an able organ player.
"He loved life," said Lois Kirkpatrick. "I think the number of times we almost lost him (in the war) increased his enthusiasm. He was very approachable. The children in the church and in the community were all very fond of him. He was a real leader."

Before going to New London on the 14th, Joe and Tom Gernert met with Rep. Paul Gillmor to request that Father Duffy be considered for the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award, given for distinguished service in combat at the risk of life and above the call of duty.

Father John E. Duffy was also inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.
There is a display case devoted to Father Duffy's memory. His duffel bag, medals (including the Purple Heart and Bronze Star), several photos, a sword and other items reside there, including two drawings depicting life as Japanese POW's, by Father Duffy's friend and comrade, Ben Steele, who lives in Montana. Steele drew these striking scenes from memory after the war.

Father John Duffy died in San Francisco in 1958 at the age of 59. He is buried in the presidio in San Francisco CA. Yet the sacrifices he made, the strength of his character and his devotion to freedom can touch us still. 
We have but to remember.      View photos of Memorial & funeral           News Articles -Photos

           Father Duffy Photo Album     Letter from Douglas MacArthur    New Book on Father Duffy                  
 

Project Manager's Note: I have been able to find few written articles of Father Duffy, except where he is mentioned in books or accounts. But the resounding theme of each memory is always the same; 
an extraordinary tribute and respect for Father Duffy. He is always referred to for his selfless sacrifices and dedication to the men on Bataan and in the POW camps. I wish I could do more to honor his memory.


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