Jack Michael Donohoe
Jack Michael Donohoe
  • August 31, 1922 - August 6, 2017
  • Spokane, Washington

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Jack Donohoe, 94, of Spokane, died peacefully during the early morning of August 6, 2017. Jack retired as an engineer at Kaiser Aluminum (Mead Plant) in the mid 1980's and was one of Washington State's best known WW2 POW's. He was preceded in death by his wife Fern in 2002 and his daughter Patricia Wilson in May 2017. His survivors include grandson Eric Wilson, and son-in-law James Wilson, both of Alaska.
Jack was born in 1922 in San Francisco CA to parents John Vincent and Ann Mary Donohoe, the first of three sons. He graduated from Reno (NV) High School in 1940. In October in enlisted in the US Army, and was soon part of the Army Air Corps. After flight mechanic's school in Burbank CA, he was assigned to the 21st Pursuit Squadron.
By the fall of 1941 volunteers were sought for a "secret" assignment for the unit, rumored to be a trip to the Caribbean. No one wanted to miss out. They headed out into the Pacific on the converted liner Calvin Coolidge, stopped in Honolulu, zig-zagged further east, arriving in Manila one week before Thanksgiving. The 21st was based at Nichols Field just outside the city. The war in the Philippines began a few hours after Pearl Harbor, with most of the aircraft being destroyed on the ground by air attacks. Here, it was followed up with army troops landing on the shores. Many of our Air Corps personnel were then employed as provisional infantry, including Jack. They successfully defeated the first attempted invasion. While waiting for the Japanese to return in greater force, the US troops dealt with shortages of food, supplies, and tropical diseases. They were moved down the Bataan peninsula to form a better defensive position. The next attacks were too strong and result obvious, leaving no choice but surrender. Afterward came the Bataan Death March and a series of prison camps. Jack survived the Bataan Death March, Camp O Donnell, Lumban (work camp), Cabanatuan, Davao Penal Colony, and the Lasang airfield detail. His escape came at the sinking of the Shinyo Maru (prison ship) by the USS Paddle, where he was one of 83 survivors of 750 aboard. He was pulled from the water by locals in a dugout, lived with the Filipino guerrillas, and eventually evacuated by the submarine USS Narwhal. Jack' travels took him to Australia, San Francisco, Walter Reed Wash. DC, and eventually to Fort Wright in Spokane, where he met his future wife. Jack once stated that he viewed every day after his POW time as a gift. Despite his horrendous experiences, Jack was at his center a positive and happy person, as can be attested by those who knew him. A memorial service celebrating Jack's life will be held August 24, 2017 at 1:00pm at Ball and Dodd Funeral Home.