An American Hero Has Left Us

Posted In: City News by Pat McGrath Avery

Pat McGrath Avery
River Road Press
18942 Bus Hwy 13 Ste F 107
Branson West, MO   65737

Valdor John survived horrific torture, a death march and an execution at the Sunchon Tunnel in North Korea, in 1950. A hero, husband, father and friend passed away on August 19, 2008. His home was in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

His expressive face showed his Oneida Indian heritage. His gentle spirit touched the hearts of all who met him. His story broke our hearts and inspired us.

In 2006, he joined six other survivors of the Sunchon Tunnel Massacre in their first reunion. They met in Branson, Missouri. Seven men who each had been physically, spiritually and emotionally scarred by their experiences came together for healing. They had much in common although they had gone their separate ways after the war. Each had spent a lifetime with the consequences of those few short months in 1950 that forever changed the path of their lives. They were boys then, in their late teens. They came together in their seventies.

Valdor joined the Army at seventeen. He shipped to Japan and was assigned to the Graves Registration recovery team. Transferred to the 11th Airborne, he was sent to Korea where he joined up with the 21st Infantry Regiment, 24st Infantry Division. On July 15, he was sent to Taejon to join General Dean’s forces. A few days later he was captured.

After he was rescued, he spent a couple of years in the hospital before going back on active duty. Valdor served three tours of duty in Vietnam as well as tours in Turkey, France, Germany and Japan. After his retirement, he worked in Dallas. He participated in the PTSD programs in Texas and Florida. He credited these programs, and his wife Linda’s support, with helping him come to terms with his Korean War experiences.

Valdor was active in Indian and veteran affairs throughout his life.

Last November Valdor rode his motorized scooter in the Veterans Day Parade in Branson. When a small boy ran out and handed him an American flag, tears filled Van’s eyes. Then his radiant smile broke out and everyone saw his happiness.

Valdor and the other survivors have been special guests at Veterans Week in Branson for the past two years. He loved meeting Shoji Tabuchi, the Comets, Penny Gilley, Jim Stafford and members of the Branson Veterans Task Force. He loved meeting other veterans and sharing stories. He loved being with the other survivors. His wife, Linda, was always at his side.

He shared his war-time experiences in the book, The Sunchon Tunnel Massacre Survivors by Pat McGrath Avery and Joyce Faulkner.

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