Honor and Distinction

March 31st, 2015 13 Comments

Dorsey, Leo H.


The New York Times and I are not on good terms. For their part, they have no idea I exist. For my part, ever since I canceled my subscription after I caught them, about twenty-five years ago, either deliberately lying or engaging in willful ignorance about a second amendment issue, I have paid little attention to anything they write.

So I only recently twigged to the fact that their editorial board has called for Bowe Bergdahl not to be charged and tried for desertion and misconduct. Here is the salient paragraph from their editorial:

“But trying him for desertion and misbehaving before the enemy — for allegedly engaging in misconduct that endangered his unit — stands to accomplish little at this point. A conviction would most likely deprive a traumatized veteran of benefits, including medical care, which he will probably need for years. A dishonorable discharge would make it harder to rebuild his life as a civilian.”

As it happens, I learned about this editorial just as I was starting to write an article about Chris Dorsey.

Chris is the co-founder, president, and CEO of Orion Entertainment, an independent, Denver, Colorado-based entertainment company that produces a wide variety of programming for various cable television channels. They produce everything from hunting to home improvement to reality shows, and they have enjoyed unprecedented success.

I’ve known Chris for about a quarter of a century, and I remembered him once telling me that his father had been a survivor of the Bataan Death March, and that he, Chris, used to be woken in the night by his father’s screams. In the course of doing my research for the article, I came across the following information from a variety of sources (the words that follow are mine, but the facts are accurate):

Leo H. Dorsey (above) grew up in Janesville, Wisconsin. In 1939 he enlisted in the Wisconsin National Guard’s 32nd Divisional Tank Company, and in 1940 he was called up to regular duty when his tank company was made part of the regular army under the name of Company A, 192 Tank Battalion, subsequently known as the Janesville 99. The 192nd Tank Battalion was sent to the Philippines, arriving at Clark Field on Thanksgiving Day, 1941.

On December 8th 1941 Clark Field was attacked by the Japanese. The Army Air Corps was completely destroyed, and the assault was followed up by an amphibious attack. Corporal Leo H. Dorsey and the 192nd Tank Battalion retreated onto the Bataan peninsula and spent the next three months, without food or supplies, trying desperately to slow the invasion of the Philippines by a vastly superior and better equipped Japanese Army.

They fought the Japanese, they fought disease, they fought starvation, and when they were finally compelled to surrender, they were treated to a little overland excursion to Camp O’Donnell that has gone down in history as “The Bataan Death March.” To this day, no one knows precisely how many men died on that march.

Bataan Death March


At Camp O’Donnell, Corporal Leo Dorsey became so ill through disease and malnutrition that his weight dropped to ninety pounds. His life was saved by Lieutenant Leroy Scoville and an unidentified member of A Company who would surreptitiously hold Cpl. Dorsey up and help him to walk so that the Japanese would be fooled into thinking he was healthy enough to work. Like so many others, Lt. Leroy Scoville did not survive the war.

From Camp O’Donnell, Cpl. Leo Dorsey was sent to first one prison camp and then another before being shipped to Japan on one of the aptly named “Hell Ships,” where men were packed in so tightly they could not even sit down. Suffering from a wide range of diseases, including dysentery, the men were compelled to defecate on themselves and their fellow soldiers. Many did not survive the trip.

In Japan, the soldiers were forced into slave labor for various Japanese industries, loading and unloading ships, and building a dry-dock. Things came to a head when the POWs refused to handle munitions and other military supplies; they simply refused to touch any of the war materials for the Japanese. They were beaten severely and repeatedly, but they endured and eventually the Japanese gave up and assigned them to other tasks.

Then the American POWs began a lengthy program of sabotage, slowing their work down to the barest possible minimum. They were beaten, but they endured and they persevered.

They deliberately mixed the concrete too thin, so that the walls of the dry-dock collapsed. They were beaten. They endured.

After four years of captivity, slave labor, torture, abuse, starvation, degradation, Cpl. Leo Dorsey and the other American POWs were finally liberated. Only one third of the Janesville 99 lived to return home, and they returned bearing the scars, physical and psychological, they would take to their graves, but they went to work, they raised families, they lived their lives as they had served their country, with honor and dignity and courage.

Cpl. Leo Dorsey may have woken his children in the night with his screams, but he raised nine fine young men and women; I was at Chris’s wedding, so I can attest that they are fine young men and women.

And now the New York Times feels it would be unnecessarily hard on Bowe Bergdahl to face charges, and that it would “make it harder on him to rebuild his life as a civilian.”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Several member of his own company lost their lives in an effort to find him. Other members said that he deserted and were called crazy for their testimony.


    Bill O’Reilly Talking points

    “Why the Left does not want Bowe Bergdahl punished.”

  2. Anonymous says:

    My husband’s uncle was killed in action during World War ll and he received a purple heart for heroism.

    This is the account taken from a copy of a news paper article that my husband has.

    Private A.C. D____ 357th infantry played the role of “pack horse” under heavy enemy fire in an action to evacuate a wounded buddy from a position of extreme danger.

    According to the award recommendation forwarded to proper authorities Private D____ first distinguished himself by carrying a wounded man from a field to an adjacent highway where motor transportation was available for the remanded of the journey to the station.

    Private D____ reported to litter crews that he knew of another man who was injured in another field nearby a kilometer away. The enemy fire was so intense that it was virtually impossible for a group of men to successfully negate the terrain. On his own initiative Private D____ started back to the wounded man. With all possible speed he reached his companion and used his shoulder, he barely managed to stagger half a mile back to the highway with the casualty on his back. The man was quickly taken to a nearby aid station.

    The fact is gallant in itself was dutifully mentioned in the Private D___ was the smallest man in the regiment

  3. Anonymous says:

    #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER hailed by TIME magazine as the best nonfiction book of the year. One of the longest-running New York Times bestsellers of all time, Unbroken has spent more than four years on the Times list in hardcover, fifteen weeks at number one, and counting. Recently released in paperback, Unbroken debuted at #1 and remains there after more than 20 weeks. The book is the winner of the Los Angeles Times Book of the Year Award for Biography. The young reader edition, released in November, 2014, is also a New York Times bestseller.

    “STAGGERING … MESMERIZING … Any one of the threads in Hillenbrand’s monumental new book could be a page-turner all its own… Hillenbrand’s writing is so ferociously cinematic, the events she describes so incredible, you don’t dare take your eyes off the page.”–People

    On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

    The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile. But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

    Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

    In her long-awaited new book, seven years in the making, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in her blockbuster bestseller, Seabiscuit. Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.
    Audio Excerpt

    barnes & noble
    random house

    Copyright © 2010 Laura Hillenbrand. Website by Jefferson Rabb.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah, I highly recommend both the film and the book “Unbroken”. I saw the film first, then read a borrowed copy of the book. Though the film was great, it couldn’t begin to cover(in a coupla hours) all that was in that book–plus in the book, you really got to know Louis Zamparini SOOOOO much better, and I feel incredibly inspired and enriched by coming to know something of Louis Zamparini, whom I had never even heard of before. NOT a happy story, by any means, and rather harsh(if realistic) in it’s portrayal of incredibly cruel World War 2 Japanese(but what culture hasn’t portrayed a darker side at some point in their history?). I did, at least, upon finishing the book, go on a Japanese reading kick–reading about more positive stuff, including the fascinating history(continuing!) of Japanese conservation and wildlife!(more up my alley there…) But yeah, EVERYONE should read Louis Zamparini’s INCREDIBLE survival story……L.B.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I have nothing to add but my thanks. The research and the writing are both appreciated. They provide course correction to those of us who complain when the air conditioning on our vehicle doesn’t work properly.

  5. Anonymous says:

    My father was in the Koren war and I never heard him talk about it. He only mentioned a couple of times that I can remember. One time he talked about patrolling the jungle for the enemy. The other time was to talk about how bad the food was. He said that they had chipped beef on toast which was called s*** on a shingle. That is probably not something you should say to kids. I can only imagine what he thinks of Bowe Berghadl. I do remember several things that would send him into an absolute rage. One was seeing hippies protest the Vietnam War and the other was young men burning their draft cards on television. He would immediately start screaming at the TV and curse at the young people on the TV. It would scare us so much we would leave the family room and go upstairs or outside.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I found your blog after watching Midnight Express and wondering what happened to Brad Davis. Clicking on links brought me here. You have a unique voice.

  7. Anonymous says:

    More evidence they were “The Greatest Generation.” Thank you for my freedom.

  8. Anonymous says:


    Just in time for Easter “Joy is like the Rain” I know that this has nothing to do with the topic, but I could not get this song out of my head. It is actually something I learned when I went to a Catholic School.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Thank you! We often forget how many amazing people make up are country,make up our world – thank you.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hello JP,

    welcome to the brave new world of political correctness. Although “brave” is a relative term in this context. After that you won’t happen to subscribe to the New York Times again, won’t you 😉 ?
    Cpl. Leo Dorsey must have been a deeply impressing personality. Obviously a patriot with iron will. Getting back to normal life when suffering from such a trauma is an enormous achievement in a time when there probably wasn’t even a name for it. I guess most of us cannot even judge what that means. I reckon much of your sympathy for him is based on this fact.
    And raising nine (!) children then… My highest respect.

    Best wishes


  11. Anonymous says:

    …And guess what old movie was on the TV just recently? Rather appropo to this subject–that old sorta classic(certainly a classic in sentimental terms), “No Man Is An Island”–and I had to watch it again, DECADES since I last saw it–, about the escape and concealment of George Tweed from the Japanese invasion of Guam during World War 2. I always wonder how accurate Hollywood is with these stories–now with the internet, by gosh, you can find out! So I Googled both the actual 1960’s film, and George Tweed, and found out, basic facts at least, they were purty darn accurate in that film! And to find out Guam is ONLY about 30 miles long and a dozen wide–how in the heck he managed to hide out for two years with the Japanese hunting for him persistently, makes the reality even more amazing. Of course without local help, he never would have survived–hence the title of the movie! Another amazing World War 2 hero. But terribly sad and tragic the main actor Jeffrey Hunter’s premature demise…..L. B.

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