Jackfert leaves lasting legacy

Letters, artifacts and photographs contained in the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Museum and Education Center in Wellsburg tell a story of tragedy and heroism.

It’s one that Ed Jackfert worked for many years to ensure was preserved.

Jackfert, who died July 24 at the age of 98 in Tampa, Fla., and his wife, Henrietta, were the driving forces behind the creation of the museum nearly 20 years ago. Thanks to an effort they helped start, it is believed the local museum contains one of the largest collections of materials related to the experiences of more than 70,000 Americans and Filipinos forced to walk the Bataan Death March and many other Allied troops captured following a five-month battle against Japanese invaders of the Philippine Islands in 1942.

While not a part of that march, Jackfert was able to offer a firsthand account of the horrors suffered by prisoners of war during World War II, having been captured by Japanese forces on the island of Mindanao on May 10, 1942.

It was a story he shared well, whether it was with local students who were touring the museum or with students in Japan where, he learned, many people had never heard.

Jackfert never wavered in his mission, and while he was disappointed the United States did not insist on reparations for POWs when a treaty with Japan was signed after World War II and did not see POWs receive compensation for health problems, Jackfert’s work was important in getting an apology from Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki, and, later, from Mitsubishi Materials Corp., which made a $50,000 donation to the museum.

He was a member of the Greatest Generation, those who fought the battles of World War II and who are sadly, dwindling in numbers with each passing day. That’s why it’s important for museums such as the one in Wellsburg to continue to share their stories with generations to come.

Ed Jackfert’s work will ensure those memories will be preserved. It helps bring perspective and serves as a reminder of something Jackfert said while speaking with a group of students from Ritsumeikan University of Kyoto, Japan, and their professor, Professor Kimio Yakushiji, when they visited Wellsburg on Aug. 26, 2016:

“The consequences of war are death and destruction.”


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