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March 27, 1986


PIX #1 - The Father John E. Duffy Memorial Showcase was dedicated at the Amer- ican Legion Home, Post 292, New London, Ohio, recently. Standing to the left of the show-case is Father Duffy's niece Dorothy (Vogel) Baltes, Norwalk, who was his housekeeper throughout his priesthood. On the far right is Post Com- mander Gary Ferguson, and next to him is Adjutant Douglas Lash. (Photo cour- tesy New London Record).

PIX #2 - Father John E. Duffy photographed when he was on the St. Wendelin staff in Fostoria. Photo is from the 1930 Foslin.

Father John E. Duffy, who was once on the staff of St. Wendelin and served as assistant to the Rev. R.V. O'Connor, was honored posthumously recently by the New London American Legion Post 292.

The deceased Father Duffy was a survivor of the Bataan Death March during World War II. The ceremony honoring him included the dedication of the show- case in which his Legion and war medals will be permanently displayed at the American Legion Home at New London.

At the time of the dedication ceremony, Douglas G. Lash, adjutant of Post 292, read Father Duffy's complete war record, which is briefed in this article.


Father Duffy was commissioned in the U.S. Army in 1933. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the start of the war, he was ordered to the Phili- ppines by General McArthur at the request of General Wainwright to be the Nor- thern Luzon Force chaplain and later became chaplain of the First Philippine Corps, a position he held through the rest of his military career.

When the Japanese overran Bataan, Father Duffy was forced to surrender and join the death march, during which he was bayonetted by the Japanese and left for dead. He was rescued by the Philippino guerrillas and after recovering from his wounds directed guerrilla activities and cleared information in four provinces for Colonel Claud Thorpe, McArthur's guerilla chief.


Captured in 1943 by the Japanese, he was tried as a guerilla but not con- victed. He is the only officer to ever beat a Japanese Kemptai courtmartial.

As a prisoner of war, he was forced to sail on the Japanese "Hell Ships," and during one voyage was wounded three more times. Although seriously wounded, he organized a relief party administering to the dying and wounded.

Of 17 chaplains who sailed with the Hell Ships, Father Duffy was one of only two who survived the ordeal.

At one point in his military career he was rescued by Philippinos and hidden in a Spanish hospital for four months, treated for blood poisoning, but he left the hospital before the infection was cleared up because the Japanese had three times searched the hospital for him...the American who was alleged to have been there.

At another time Father Duffy discovered and took an American storm flag from a Japanese ammunition box. Wrapped on his person, it was never detected and later turned over to Chaplain Wilcox, with instructions to send it to his niece if he sould not survive.

The flag finally arrived in the United States at the home of his niece in June 1945 and was flown in the State of Ohio while he was still a prisoner in the Mukden POW hospital in Mukden, Manchuria, where he remained a patient of the Japanese until the end of the war.


Flown out of Manchuria on the first available plane because he was considered the most serious patient, he was at the General Hospital three weeks; Calcutta General Hospital, three days; Walter Reed General Hospital for over a year, until he was officially retired Oct. 31, 1946,.

Father Duffy's decorations which are now permanently displayed in the showcase at the American Legion Post 292 in New London include Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Purple Heart with five oak leaf cluster, American Defense Medal with foreign service palm; Pacific Theater Medal with two battle stars; American Theatre ribbon; World War II Victory Medal; Philippine Defense Medal with one battle star; Philippine Liberation Ribbon. He was recommened for but did not receive the DSC Silver Star and Naval Cross.

Father Duffy also served in World War I with the Rainbow Division and expe- rienced 11 months of frontline duty. Following his World War I experience, he taught in the English Department at Notre Dame, where he completed his college education.


Father Duffy was ordained to the priesthood June 8, 1928, and was immediately sent to Fostoria. His teaching assignment at St. Wendelin included Latin, re- ligion and coach of the debate team. He also organized the Wranglers Club, an organization of debaters and orators.

On May 15, 1930, after two years at St. Wendelin, he was transferred to St. Ann's Parish, Fremont.

Father Duffy's first and only civilian parish, serving as a priest was Our Lady of Lourdes Church, New London, Ohio, which began in January 1947, after release from military service.

Dorothy Vogel, a niece, who served as Father Duffy's housekeeper in Fostoria Fremont and later at New London is still living and will be remembered by Fostorians. In later years she married A.J. Baltes, a prominent road con- struction contractor. He is now deceased, but she continued to live in their home at 181 Benedict, Norwalk, Ohio 44857.


Mrs. Baltes confirmed that Father Duffy died June 4, 1958, in a U.S. hospital in San Francisco, at age 58, shortly after he had taken up residence at his retirement home in California.

Father Duffy's final resting place was in Presidio National Cemetery, San Francisco, at age 58, shortly after he had taken up residence at his retire- ment home in California.

Father Duffy's final resting place was in Presidio National Cemetery. That cemetery is on a hill overlooking the city. Mrs. Baltes said the burial spot has been reserved for someone very special, and was designated for Father Duffy at the time of his death.

Mrs. Baltes, in a telephone conversation, said she would be glad to hear from, or see any of her old Fostoria friends at any time.

Twice, Father Duffy was Commander of Broomewood Post 292 at New London, 1947- 48 and 1948-49. He was elected national chaplain of the American Legion at the National Convention in New York in 1952-53.

Each year a scholarship is awarded to a student from the New London High School in his name from the Father Duffy memorial fund. And each year at the Department Convention of the State of Ohio, American Legion, the most out- standing chaplain in the Legion is given the Father John E. Duffy Memorial plaque.


The short period of time that Father Duffy was in New London, he became very well known, not only as a Catholic priest, but a community leader. He helped spearhead the building of the American Legion Home in New London and was in- terested in the youth of the community.

Mary Van Curen, 138 Elm Street, an eighth-grade teacher at St. Wendelin, pro- vided valuable information as did several others. She remembered that her aunt, Dorothy Jacoby Aubry, Columbus, was on Father Duffy's debating team when he was an instructor in Fostoria. She also discovered that Florence (Bigham) Marchion was on his debating team. There are probably other St. Wendelin stu- dents, still living in this area who were tutored by Father Duffy.

Gerald Sheibley, Kennedy Lane, remembers Father Duffy as one of his best friends, both having been students at Notre Dame. He said when Father Duffy was a student at Notre Dame he wond many high awards for his excellence as an orator.


Douglas G. Lash, adjutant of Broome-Wood Post 292, New London, has extended an invitation to any readers who would like to visit the showcase as a group. He said if notified in advance he will give them the tour of the Post and show them the collection of Father Duffy's medals and other effects.

(Acknowledgements...others I wish to thank for their assistance in preparing this article are Edward Gehring, N. Union Street and Joseph Gehring, Cherry Street who called the showcase article to my attention in the Legion publica- tion.)

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