John Joseph Neiger Jr. – Major, United States Army

27 May 2001
Henry M. Neiger writes:

“My father John J. Neiger (West Point '35) was among those who perished December 15, 1944 on the Oryoku Maru. I was born in Nov. '39, so my earliest memories were wondering whether he was alive or not, hearing that he died the summer of '45, around the time of the atom bombs.


My mother and family was so shocked by this story, that we've hardly learned any details. So here I am now, 61 years old (my mother long since died herself) much older than he was when he died, and I am more interested than ever in his dreadful, inspiring story. His life as a POW is still very much alive with me. Feeling the loss keenly to this day (largely in ignorance). Feeling disturbed and inadequate that his body was never recovered and that I have never even been to the Philippines, since we sailed back to the States in May, 1941, leaving him there. Not even knowing which hold he was in or ever having heard a firsthand report of anyone who knew him from the POW period, or was with him aboard the Oryoku Maru.

I would be very interested therefore to be in touch with any survivors of the Oryoku Maru, especially any one who would be willing to share any memories of their comrade John Neiger with his son.   I think he was among those who surrendered on Bataan, went through O'Donnell and spent most of the war at Cabanatuan I.

I have a collection of his POW diaries, postcards and letters, wondering where a worthy depository for these cherished firsthand accounts might be.   I am on the ADBC website for the first time today and looking forward to returning and putting my e-mail address on one of the lists.

Eager to learn more and get involved finally after more than 60 years of silence. I know our pain never approaches their pain.”

Major John Joseph Neiger, Jr.
West Point – Class of 1935
Commander, Company F, 45 Infantry, U.S. Army from June 1940

Promoted to Major during defense of the Philippines
Aide to Major General George Parker, South Luzon Force, Bataan Defense Force, II Philippine Corps
Taken prisoner by the Japanese on Bataan April 1942
Bataan Death March, Camp O'Donnell – April 26, 1942 to June 1, 1942, Cabanatuan Number 1 – June 1, 1942 to October, 1944, Bilibid, Manila – October 12, 1944 to December 13, 1944

Last seen aboard sinking Oryoku Maru December 14/15th, 1944 Subic Bay, Philippines

Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart
Memorial Service, Arlington Cemetery, October 18th, 1996

John's best friend and fellow POW Colonel “Zero” Wilson (West Point 1924) said: “Through it all, John exemplified the West Pointer, the professional soldier, and the gentleman. He never lost his sense of humor, and he adopted a philosophical and optimistic view of our predicament.”

John J Neiger Jr. married Sallie Morfit in St. Louis, Missouri in March 1936. She sailed with their two sons from Pier 7 in Manila on May 14th, 1941.

John J Neiger III (wife Barbara)
Lake of the Woods, Virginia

Henry Morfit Neiger

John J Neiger III has a son John Neiger IV (wife Kemper, a son Forest) and a daughter Tracy Simon (husband Jim Simon, a son Timothy James Simon and a daughter Courtney Sallie Simon)


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 06/25/1911
  • DATE OF DEATH: 12/15/1944

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