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Minnesota National Guard
Bataan Death March survivor honored in Twins home opener

"It was a nice tribute," said Harold Kurvers, a Bataan Death March survivor  "I was so surprised when they asked me"

Kurvers was honored in pre-game ceremonies before the Minnesota Twins home opener Apr 9, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis  After the crowd game him a loud ovation, Kurvers raised the US Flag during the National Anthem

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After surviving the eight-day Bataan Death March in 1942 and spending time in prison camps in the Philippines, Kurvers and 1,600 others were herded onto a prison ship, the Oryoku Maru, bound for Japan in 1944

A day later, the ship was sunk by US aircraft, with the loss of more than 300 prisoners  Kurvers and others were transferred to another prison ship, the Enoura Maru When US aircraft damaged that ship, they were transferred to the Brazil Maru, which finally docked in Japan in late January 1945 Just 400 of the original 1,600 prisoners were still alive

Kurvers and the other prisoners of war were put in Japanese prison camps until finally being released at the end of the war in August 1945  Through it all, Kurvers often thinks about those that didn't make it

"I think of them a lot," said Kurvers  "They always refer to us as heroes, but the real heroes are still over there"

Kurvers credits his survival to his faith in God and his sense of humor  "It helped to have a sense of humor  It helped to get us through some tough times"

Raising the flag of his country before the Twins game was a real honor for Kurvers  It was extra special to have his daughter and one of his sons there to witness it

As Kurvers raised the US Flag to the top of the flagpole and as the National Anthem singers reached the last notes, four F-16 fighter jets raced across the sky  The F-16s, from the 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth, brought cheers from the crowd as they flew over Target Field

Members of the Minnesota National Guard also unraveled a 1,600-pound flag during the National Anthem  The US Flag, held by over 130 Soldiers and Airmen, covered the entire outfield of Target Field

It's hard to think of a better way open the Twins season than with the roar of fighter jets, unveiling a large US Flag and honoring a real American hero

By Master Sgt Rich Kemp
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs
8 April, 2011


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