Frank A. Gabaldon; Death March Survivor


Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery

Photo by B. Charley Gallegos


MAR. 6, 1991 Frank A. Gabaldon, a decorated survivor of the Bataan Death March of World War II, died of cancer Saturday in his Spring Valley home after a brief illness. He was 75.

Mr. Gabaldon had been a resident of the San Diego area since 1953 and was employed by National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. for 25 years as a working-teaching shipwright. He retired in 1981.

He was a professional drummer and had played in bands from the time he was a youth in his native Albuquerque, N.M.

Mr. Gabaldon joined the U.S. Army in 1940 and went overseas as a bandsman. He was stationed at Clark Field in the Philippines when it was bombed by the Japanese shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack.

He was wounded during jungle fighting and was a staff sergeant when the U.S.-Philippine forces surrendered. He walked the infamous Bataan Death March and later was forced to work in the rice fields and was tortured and beaten. After 18 months, he was shipped to Japan and weighed only 85 pounds when he was finally freed in 1945. He was virtually blind from malnutrition. He received three Purple Hearts, three Silver Stars and two Bronze Stars. He was awarded the gold Freedom Medal by the Philippine government in 1967.

Mr. Gabaldon was a member of the Musicians Union and was made a member of the Girl Scouts of America as a result of his assistance on camping trips.

He also was a member of the Purple Heart Society and the Ex-POWs.

Survivors include his wife of 42 years, Charmette; two daughters and a son, Charmette Haberkoran, Yvette Prato and Alan Gabaldon, all of Spring Valley; two stepdaughters, Cheri Sporleder of Michigan and Edwina Clark of Tucson, Ariz.; three sisters and two brothers, Flora Sanchez, Margie Gabaldon and Helen Moya, all of Albuquerque; Rudy Gabaldon of Nevada and Orlando Gabaldon of Los Angeles, and 11 grandchildren.

Military services will be at 11 a.m. today at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. He was a member of St. John of the Cross Catholic Church in Lemon Grove, but rosary service will be at Santa Sophia Catholic Church in Spring Valley.


San Diego Union-Tribune