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Staff Pick: We Refused To Die

University of Utah Press

  In 1942 the Japanese army forced 70,000 prisoners to march across the Bataan Peninsula. Gene Jacobsen was among them, and he tells his story of three and a half years as a prisoner of war. This episode picked by Doug Fabrizio.

RadioWest divider.

In 1942 the Japanese army forced about 70,000 US and Philippino prisoners of war to march some 80 miles across the Bataan Peninsula on the way to a prison camp. More than 10,000 died or were summarily executed along the way. Among the survivors was Gene Jacobsen - who published a book about the ordeal. Jacobsen died in 2007 at the age of 85. Today, we're rebroadcasting his story of three and a half years as a prisoner of war. (Original broadcast date: 11/24/04)

Gene Jacobsen died May 25, 2007 at the age of 85. Scroll to the bottom of this page in the University of Utah Alumni Association Newsletter to read more about his life. His book is called We Refused to Die [Indie bookstores|Amazon].

Here's what Doug Fabrizio has to say about the episode:

I’ll tell anyone who will listen that this was the only show we gave an ‘A’ grade. We’ve often puzzled about why it worked the way it did. It’s Gene Jacobson telling stories about his experience in World War II. He was one of the soldiers who survived the brutal Bataan Death March in 1942. We played the show every year on Memorial Day because he was so genuine and such a great story teller and just such a damn lovely person. Once you’ll hear it, you’ll know what I mean.


Doug Fabrizio has been reporting for KUER News since 1987, and became News Director in 1993. In 2001, he became host and executive producer of KUER's RadioWest, a one hour conversation/call-in show on KUER 90.1 in Salt Lake City. He has gained a reputation for his thoughtful style. He has interviewed everyone from Isabel Allende to the Dalai Lama, and from Madeleine Albright to Desmond Tutu. His interview skills landed him a spot as a guest host of the national NPR program, "Talk of the Nation." He has won numerous awards for his reporting and for his work with RadioWest and KUED's Utah NOW from such organizations as the Society of Professional Journalists, the Utah Broadcasters Association, the Public Radio News Directors Association and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.