Bataan survivor, 101, remembers enduring POW camps because ‘God sustained me’

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Lloyd Ponder fought on Bataan in the Philippines during World War II and made his last stand on the island rock of Corregidor before a surrender order forced him to become a prisoner of Imperial Japan.  

At age 101, he is one of the last remaining survivors of the ordeal. He encourages today’s generations to see the silver lining in every hard situation.  

“I had a hard education in the prison camps,” Ponder said, from his home in Natchitoches, Louisiana. “You can die so easily. Yet where there’s determination, faith, and a will to live, you can overcome impossible odds. I remember looking at the sky at dusk and thinking, ‘That sunset would look so pretty, if only the barbed wire weren’t there.’” 

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Born October 12, 1921, in Pleasant Hill, Louisiana, Ponder was the first of five brothers. He graduated as high school valedictorian. But with no money for college, Ponder enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps, the precursor to the Air Force, and trained to become an airplane mechanic.  

Bataan survivor Lloyd Ponder in his Air Force uniform. (Courtesy

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