Ben Steele, Bataan Death March survivor, dies at 98

Ben Steele, a survivor of the infamous Bataan Death March during World War II, has died in Montana. He was 98.

Shirley Steele told KTVQ her husband died Sunday morning.

His book “Tears in the Darkness --The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath” chronicled his experiences during the war, the station reports.

On April 9, 1942, tens of thousands of American and Filipino soldiers were surrendered to Japanese forces. The Americans were Army, Army Air Corps, Navy and Marines. Among those seized were members of the 200th Coast Artillery, New Mexico National Guard.

They were marched for days in the scorching heat through the Philippine jungles. Thousands died. Those who survived faced the hardships of a prisoner of war camp. Others were wounded or killed when unmarked enemy ships transporting prisoners of war to Japan were sunk by U.S. air and naval forces.

Steele was a POW for 1,244 days, the station reported.

After the war he became a distinguished artist.