A 95th birthday is a milestone of its own, but one Casper man and World War II vet, says it’s a miracle he made it to 95. And he says his faith and will to live made him a Bataan Death March survivor.
The day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, their troops stormed the Philippines. Later capturing American soldiers stationed there under General Douglas MacArthur.
"I was captured just a couple miles from our village." said survivor Leonard Robinson.
23-year-old Robinson was a machine gunner on the front lines... and was one of the first soldiers to make the march up the Bataan Peninsula.
“Very few rations if any at all, many of them were wounded, no clean water, they were exhausted, and they suffered from countless jungle ailments.” said John Goss, Wyoming Veterans Commission.
And for the next three and a half years Robinson was a prisoner of war. They were often beaten and many were killed.
“They put us on slave labor working out on the docks.” said Robinson.
“and that's what carried him through was his faith, and taking care of his soldiers and taking care of himself, he kept a very positive attitude through the whole thing.” said Goss.
Robinson recalls the time a Japanese solider threw his bible on the ground... But he wouldn't stand for that. “When he threw it down on the floor I just reached down, dusted it off, stuck it back in my pocket, he walked off and I walked off. Some fellas got a bayonet for less than that.”
Robinson - by the grace of God there's always a survivor to everything and by the grace of God, I'll be that Survivor.
“It’s what he's done with his life since then and he counts his blessings, he just feels like he's been so blessed.” said Wyoming Governor Matt Mead.
Robinson may be a survivor. But he says he's not the only hero.
“Every veteran needs to be honored because if it wasn't for the veterans we wouldn't have a free country.” said Robinson.