NEWTON, N.C. -- A chance finding in an inherited house is now a book detailing a soldier s experience in the Bataan Death March.

The editor/author of the book is Otto Woods, a retired engineer living at the Abernethy Laurels retirement community in Newton who never wrote a book before.

Otto Woods and Hayne Dominick, Jr. are two soldiers, tied together by their service, their hometown of Martinsville, Virginia and a chance finding of old articles found stashed away nearly 60 years after they were written.

We inherited a house and that's where I found them, Woods says.

Woods discovered Dominick's words, detailing 1,216 days as a prisoner of war and surviving the Bataan Death March.

Most of the prisoners didn't want to talk about that experience, Woods explains.

The experience dates back to 1942 in the Philippines.

The memory is of a march of 75,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war during World War II at the hands of the Japanese.

If the POW's didn't die from illness they could be subjected to beatings, starvation or executions.

Dominick s words, from those old articles, recount the scenes.

We averaged 24 and a half miles a day without one bite to eat and only a few drinks of water that they spasmodically allowed us to sip from creeks, ditches or even mud puddles. When they fell out, they were killed.

Woods' find prompted a year and a half long search that resulted in information, documents, interviews about Dominick's life and the 1216 days avoiding death.

Woods says he found details that even Dominick's daughters never knew.

When I put it together I sent it to them, they couldn't believe it, he says.

Dominick didn't talk about it much. A life well-lived without bitterness is the best revenge.

As we went through the Golden Gate all of us cheered and shouted to no end, Woods reads the old newspaper articles from the Martinsville Daily Bulletin. There wasn't a soul onboard that didn't think this was the most magnificent site they'd ever seen, American land.

He is one soldier, committed to telling another soldier's story again.

There are so few of them left, Woods said. A reminder that war, there's nothing glorious about war.

The book is called March of Death! An American Soldier s 1,216 Days As a P.O.W. Of The Japanese.
Read or Share this story: