Bataan Death March survivor’s family honored


By Nate Wisneski - Kalihwisaks

Like many young men during in the 1940’s Roy J. House was uprooted from home and drafted in the United States Army to fight in World War II. He survived what some consider the most abominable war travesty to ever take place.

House, a Sergeant, was taken into Japanese custody in 1942 while in the Philippines and survived the gruesome Bataan Death March.

The March started after a pocket of United States and Pilipino soldiers surrendered to Japanese forces. Nearly 75,000 soldiers then became Prisoners of War (POW). Many of the POWs were severely mistreated, malnourished, murdered, and beaten. Some were killed if injured or to weak to carry on and to show dominance over the other prisoners. It was about 65 miles long in extreme heat with little to no water offered to the POWs.

After the march, conditions did not improve much. House served in several prison camps and was finally released in 1945, roughly three years in Japanese custody.  No records were kept regarding the amount of deaths but it is estimated at roughly 10,000 soldiers were killed or died during captivity.

House returned home and married Leone McCarrell. He passed away in 1992 at 77 years old.

During this year’s Memorial Day services Oneida veterans honored House’s family with eagle feathers to show their support and acknowledge his service.

Sharon House, his only daughter, accepted a plaque on behalf of his family. She knew little about her father’s service until later in his life.

“(He) never talked to us about it. I knew he was in the service and when he started getting elderly they told him to get funds from the veterans and that’s when we really found out how terrible it was. He would still never tell us,” said Sharon.

Sharon had six children and Roy served as a father figure to them.

“They went through all their teenage years at the same time and thank God he was around,” said Sharon. “He served the purpose. Now I have two sons taking care of their kids and that’s where it really comes out in how they parent their kids.”

“I was really close to Grandpa Roy. It’s really hard to talk about him. He was a father figure. He taught a lot of the things we’re suppose to learn from our father, our father wasn’t around. That didn’t stop him from caring for us and him teaching us,“ House’s grandson Yuma added.

As a father figure to Sharon’s children many of his traits are seen in them.

“Military became part of our lives. I served a tour in Iraq. We were raised people come first, serve the people, (they) come first before yourself,” said Yuma.

“I get frustrated and when it gets overwhelming I just think about how he made it through that and what I am dealing with is nothing. I think he instilled that in his grandchildren,” said Sharon. “I look at my kids as pretty successful, no matter what heck they bring, they all take care of their children and they do the most they can and that’s how he used to be.”

Yuma to this day still gets emotional when talking about his grandfather.

“We miss our grandpa dearly everyday. I mourned for about 15 years and I couldn’t talk about him because it does hurt because we were so close to him,” he said.

Sharon is very appreciative of the support the community has shown.

“I can’t think of anyone better than the veterans. I really can’t imagine being honored by anyone better than the military for what he did,” she said.