All this week on ABC 13 News, we'll profile heroes from right here in the Heart of Virginia who have served and sacrificed for us.
Reporter: Dhomonique Ricks l Videographer: Jemon Haskins
Lynchburg, VA - An area veteran says he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and as a result was captured by the Japanese in World War II while in the Philippines. George Rogers was part of the Battle of Bataan Death March.
"I enlisted to serve my country and unfortunately ended up in a Japanese concentration camp," Rogers said.
At the ripe age of 21, Rogers enlisted into the Army and ended up in the Philippines. Before long, he became property of Japanese forces. Rogers was enslaved for three and a half years.
"That was the death march out of Bataan," he said.
Rogers was taken to Camp O'Donnell where he buried 1,600 American soldiers. He had to pull them from underneath a building.
"We would have to crawl in and get a hold of their hands and the one soldier at their hands and the other at their feet and drag them out and then put them in the grave. Yeah, that was a tough one."
Four months later he was in Cabanatuan City where he grew vegetables. He didn't get to eat any however.
His 6'3" frame was only 85 pounds.
"About 98-percent of our diet was rice."
That wasn't the only form of abuse. One day he was roughed up by a guard.
"He smacked me with his fist and I just twisted over and fell down and I scrambled back up."
He got sick with malaria too, with no medicine to treat it.
"I shook the whole barracks."
Rogers was transferred to Japan and a year a half later was freed. He spent the next 6 months in an American hospital where he ate six times a day, slowing regaining his health and strength.
He credits his survival to the Lord. He says he's no hero.
"All I did was live. One day at a time. And that's what the Lord said. Do everything in your power to live one day at a time and that's what I did."
Rogers says he was told by doctors he would not live past the age of 45 nor would he be able have children. Well, he is 91-years-old and has five children, 12 grandchildren, 14 great grand children. He has also been married for 62 years.
Rogers worked for Reverend Jerry Falwell for 30 years.
To share your hero's story with us, visit our Heroes from the Heart of Virginia page.