My short bio: My granddaughters wanted to ask me some questions about my upbringing and life experiences. We thought we would open up the interview to the Reddit community! AMA!

My Proof: that's me at the 40 second mark!

Done for the night at 9:20 PST. We'll post a link once we get the video uploaded.

I'll try to get a few more questions and reply to some private messages before we head home. Thank you all for your questions, he thoroughly enjoyed them!

Comments: 1075 • Responses: 42  • Date: 

Morose_Pundit585 karma

Thank you for your service. If you are willing to talk about it; what was the worst thing that you had to endure? If you're not willing to talk about it; how about the best experience?

lolo_gregorio1400 karma

The worst thing was the death march itself and the food in the camp. Just rice and salt. We used to try and get the leaves of edible plants and cook it. Some people were so hungry they would sweep up grass hoppers and eat it!

The best part of it is "now". There was nothing good about the war.

ROKandHARDPLACE552 karma

Do you still hate the Japanese?

lolo_gregorio1154 karma

Of course at the time. Now I am neutral.

KillerInYourCloset506 karma

My ex-inlaw grandfather was also a survivor of the Bataan death march. He passed a few years ago. His name was Charlie Amos- did you know him?

He had some amazing stories- and surprisingly had no ill will toward the Japanese.

lolo_gregorio77 karma

He does not remember any names, hope you have luck elsewhere.

Imagineallthepeeps437 karma

Do you feel that the Philippines was abandoned at the time; i.e. thrown to the Japanese?

lolo_gregorio782 karma

We had no support or good weapons, just rifles and artillery. The United States was justified in not coming to help sooner, there were more strategic reasons.

paultheruler427 karma

Thank you so much for serving our country. What was your initial reaction once you heard World War II had ended? Did that reaction change when you heard about the atomic bombs?

lolo_gregorio869 karma

I was happy at the time that the war had ended. I felt that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were justified. It saved many lives, and it ended the war.

LordPringus418 karma

What was the life lesson you took from WWII?

lolo_gregorio1014 karma

Be in good health, it is important to survival.

zalostdr397 karma

Did your feet hurt after the march?

lolo_gregorio833 karma

He smiled.

Of course.

JOSHasorus385 karma


lolo_gregorio690 karma

He did not feel comfortable answering this one.

Starduck1342 karma

When you joined the force, what was the mentality? For your country or a us vs. Them mentality?

lolo_gregorio610 karma

For the country.

PavlovianRude311 karma

What's the best part about being alive in 2014?

lolo_gregorio1245 karma

The best thing about being alive right now is receiving compensation from the U.S. government. (Smiling)

karmapuhlease145 karma

I see (in the bill's text) that the payment is set as follows:

"The amount of a payment under subsection (a) to an individual shall be $4 for each day during which the individual was held in captivity by Japanese forces during World War II, compounded annually at a 3 percent annual rate of interest."

What does this actually work out to be today? How much do you get in compensation each month/year/whatever?

Jamator01238 karma

Complete layman's workings here, but assuming 2 years in captivity, that's $2,920. Compound interest at 3% p.a. for 50 years brings it to $12,801 in 1995. I guess that's annually for life? So in 2015 he'll get $23,120? Assuming the compound interest continues.

EDIT: 3 years in captivity would extrapolate to $34,681 in 2015.

EDIT 2: OP says he was in captivity for 3 months. So more like $2,767/year. (Thanks /u/HaloZero)

EDIT 3: Also, kind of rude to be working all this out here. We shouldn't be thinking about the money, just thanking OP for his service and wishing him the best. Sorry OP.

lolo_gregorio218 karma

He was in captivity for three months.

Raskull90306 karma

What is your best advice to someone who is currently serving in the military?

lolo_gregorio743 karma

Just be a simple soldier. Don't lazy, sleepy or aggressive. Follow the orders of the day.

cebukid299 karma

Hi, I'm Filipino and from the Philippines. What's your opinion about the current state of our country?

lolo_gregorio663 karma

It's so over populated now. It's hard to progress. So many typhoons each year. The government is corrupt, and companies won't let people work.

BloodOfPheonix289 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA. Did you interact with the Filipino prisoners at all?

lolo_gregorio581 karma

I was a Filipino prisoner. I was with K Company, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry.

Hariku264 karma

What was your ranking in the military? Do you know or keep in touch with anyone from back then? Which country were you enlisted in?

lolo_gregorio464 karma

I was a Staff Sergeant. I can't remember anyone else from my unit, and I never saw them after I was released.

jacquesfu259 karma

What was the first thing you wanted to do after going home?

lolo_gregorio674 karma

The first thing was to get my health back. Then, I wanted to have a simple life. Just eat. Rice and fish!

littleM0TH248 karma

Thank you for all you did and endured.

Are you still able to eat rice after having such a bitter memory attached to it?

lolo_gregorio752 karma

I eat rice every day.

honusthegrif199 karma

Thank you for doing what you did. Did you ever meet any of your guards later in life? Were you able to forgive them?

lolo_gregorio568 karma

I never met them or saw them again, but I forgive them.

-Karmavore194 karma

What was your closest call to being killed in action?

lolo_gregorio506 karma

Yes I did. When the Japanese bombed us, I was under a mango tree. I looked and there was a big hole near me!

johntiger1168 karma

What was the kindest thing you saw in the camp/on the march? What were the circumstances of your capture (i.e. battle/campaign)? Appreciate your service greatly!

lolo_gregorio376 karma

Along the way, people sometimes threw food wrapped in banana leaves at us.

PumpkinSmashing143 karma

Did you ever hear Tokyo Rose?

lolo_gregorio203 karma

I heard about it but I could not tell you what our was about.

lolo_gregorio244 karma

I showed him a broadcast of Tokyo Rose and he said something to the effect of, "The discipline of the Japanese was unrivaled. It was difficult to think about."

PillarOfWisdom141 karma

Thank you for your service and your example. What did you eat on the march?

I had a teacher who was in the march. His name was Bob Elliott and was a great guy. I'm not sure what unit he was in.

lolo_gregorio238 karma

On the march the Japanese government did not give us food. We ate what we could pick up. At night they allowed us to sleep in a field. When we woke up we found a plantation of Jicama. That's what we ate, but that was just our group.

Richiehitler102 karma

How were you captured? Was the treatment you got at the camp horrendous? We're you delighted to hear about the A-bombs being dropped?

Edit : Meh, not the best of answers. Great to see a world War 2 legend on reddit but would have been better with some decent answers.

lolo_gregorio223 karma

We surrendered in Bataan. We were not mistreated at the camp. I was unable to see or hear others being mistreated.

mashington1495 karma

what pow camp were you in? were you kept on Luzon or were you sent somewhere else?

how were you liberated and what was that like?

thanks for your service and for doing this ama sir.

lolo_gregorio235 karma

I was in Luzon, Capas Tarlac for three months.

There was a ruling there that those were sick could go home. I had malaria, dysentery and other illnesses. My health was failing. When they saw how sick I was, they released me.

downtherabbittrail90 karma

Thank you so much for your service sir. Having been on the death march, interacting with both your captors and fellow prisoners of war and facing your own mortality at that time, what is the greatest lesson you learned, the greatest truth about life and living as a result of your experience?

lolo_gregorio162 karma

If you're able to resist the hardships of life as a prisoner of war, while it's hot and you are without food, it's a lesson that it is hard to survive without your health.

downtherabbittrail52 karma

Thank you sir, I agree completely. If you do not mind, may I ask -- what activities have you practiced in your life since your time during the war that have proven essential to maintaining your health and wellbeing?

lolo_gregorio201 karma

Have plenty of rest, sleep well, and eat everything that is given to you. If you see plants or things that are edible, eat them!

blinker_bot72 karma

Were there any good moments during WWII? If so what was it?

lolo_gregorio256 karma

The good moments for me were when there was no fighting.

Arthur___Dent71 karma

I've met you before! At last year's memorial Bataan death march in white sands new mexico. How tiring was it for you to sit there and shake everyone's hand? Thank you so much for being there though, it made the experience a lot more meaningful!

lolo_gregorio177 karma

He says he's never been to New Mexico, only old Mexico (again, smiling).

Tinybaer57 karma

Did you ever interact with Douglas MacArthur? what was the view of him by the Filipinos? Did you feel abandoned by him when he escaped to Australia after the Japanese invaded?

lolo_gregorio128 karma

I do not feel like MacArthur abandoned the Philippines. He was sent there for strategic reasons.

Gillsolo56 karma

How do you feel about the U.S conflicts since WWII?

lolo_gregorio175 karma

I have only been in Philippine campaigns. I only know that what I fought for was justified.

CarterOfBarsoom56 karma

While in the POW camp did you see signs the war was coming to an end? or Was it a surprise?

lolo_gregorio100 karma

I was already out of the camp when the war had ended.

TheBRADLeyB54 karma

I am so sorry that I missed this. My grandfathers brother William Burns was in the 192nd Conpany B tank battalion out if Maywood, IL. He actually drove a surrender jeep. He passed away in a POW camp after surviving the March but I have thankfully been taught a lot of information about the March and the camps both in the Philippines and later in Japan.

From the very bottom of my heart I just want to say thank you for doing this AMA and I am sincerely regretful that so many people have no idea what you and your brothers in war went through. I have read many biographys of survivors (POW: Tears That Never Dry and My Hitch In Hell: The Bataan Death March are two that come to mind first) and I am so sorry what happened to you, your country, your friends, and everyone who suffered. I have always been told that due to the resilience of the Philippine and American soldiers prior to their surrender despite no supply lines, as well as the drive to not give up life occupied the Japanese Army long enough to keep them from advancing on to the next mission and eventually America. I don't really have a question, I just hope you do see this and know that you are part of the reason America is still free and the allies won the war.

Edit: Actually I do have questions although I understand the AMA is over.

I know you said you understand why the American army didn't come to liberate the Phillipines sooner due to strategic reasons but was this always something you knew and understood or did it take time and hindsight to understand/come to terms with that?

My second question would be how you kept your spirit from being broken? I understand from Lester Tenny's My Hitch In Hell (I hope I'm not mixing up biographies) that he had been part of a group that had created playing cards while in the camps and that if I recall correctly they would try save a small portion of rice each day so that every 5th day or whatever the amount was they'd have somewhat of what would seem they had more food that day.

A third question I have is, what you did your first day or week not being a captive prisoner.

Again, thank you.

lolo_gregorio55 karma

I'll make sure I get this one to him tomorrow morning!

lolo_gregorio16 karma

I knew it at the time; it was tactics. According to the news, he was going to Australia to set up.

We could not save or ration. There was barely enough food to begin with.

dolphins_unleashed36 karma

What do you think about current political/military state of affairs?

lolo_gregorio123 karma

I feel like there are a lot of things not being done by the government. Helping Chaing Kai-Shek. They should have helped him drive out the communists.

Mango_cake21 karma

I have spoken with a former death march survivor before. He said he really hates Koreans and still do today. He said the Japanese were cruel, but the Korean who were forced to work under the Japanese were the cruelest of them all. This was because they were so oppressed by the Japanese soldiers and took their anger and frustration out on the POWs. Do you feel the same?

lolo_gregorio14 karma

I did not notice at the time. We did not know that they were Korean or Japanese.

digganickrick15 karma

Being former military myself, I've read and been told a lot of stories about the Bataan death march. Is it true you would walk in groups of 3, with the outside two supporting the innermost person so they could secretly sleep, and then rotate to let another person get rest? How did you stay strong mentally, not knowing how far you were walking, or knowing when / if it would end?

Words cannot express my gratitude for your service. Young men like me joined the Marine Corps because of men like you, from the stories passed down. Semper Fi from a young vet, to the old breed.

lolo_gregorio11 karma

Yes we normally walked in groups but they were larger. It you were in smaller groups you were more vulnerable.

Sentimental-Johnny7 karma

I am currently serving, my father served in the military, and my grandfather was First Marine Raiders during WWII. Before I ask my question, let me say thank you for holding the watch and paving the way for all of us now in uniform, we have you and your fellow service members before to thank for that.

Ok, question time, during the battle, and afterward, how did you fight through what I can imagine would be an overwhelming feeling of helplessness that was there, what did you use to steel yourself to put one foot in the front of another? And afterward, how much did it effect your outlook on life and how much people take for granted?

Thank you again for your service, and for taking the time to field our questions. I hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday.

lolo_gregorio6 karma

I was depressed, and it felt hopeless to save the Philippines. I could only follow the orders I was given.

On the battlefield, I discovered that not everybody will fight. They will just sit there and occupy their position. The commander can ask for support from behind. You must do what is good, and must work to earn.

roastedbagel-10 karma

Do you have any proof of this? We've had many fake WWII AMAs in the last year where they just had their relative hold up a sign (seemingly not having any idea what/why they're holding it up) and turned out to just be bored kids faking the whole thing.

lolo_gregorio17 karma

We were all given medals.

Granddaughter: we'll take pictures later.

roastedbagel-8 karma

Ok great, once those pictures are posted we'll reinstate the post.

lolo_gregorio12 karma

Here are some photos with his American Legion cover.

roastedbagel2 karma

Awesome! I've reinstated the post. Also, if you can edit your post and pop those in the description so they're easily seen by everyone that'd be appreciated. Thanks!

lolo_gregorio6 karma

Thanks! Additional pictures and a video were added to the main post. We're done now but I think he had a good time.

DonQuixote112688-19 karma

How does it feel to be so old? How much worse do you feel than when you were 25?

lolo_gregorio17 karma

I feel better now than when I was 25.