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Author Chronicles Daring War Escape Involving Alumnus Sam Grashio

Posted on June 2, 2014 in: Academics, Alumni, Feature Stories, Mobile, video
Author John D. Lukacz wrote the book that inspired the documentary. Photo by Rajah Bose.

John D. Lukacs wrote the book that inspired the documentary. Photo by Rajah Bose.

SPOKANE, Wash. – More than 150 people attended a special screening May 29 of the new documentary “4-4-43: Escape in the Pacific,” which chronicles the heroism of Gonzaga alumnus Sam Grashio, who was part of the only successful group escape from a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp during World War II.

The event, presented by the Gonzaga University Alumni Association in collaboration with KSPS Public Television, included a discussion with author John D. Lukacs, whose book “Escape from Davao: The Forgotten Story of the Most Daring Prison Break of the Pacific War” (2010, Simon & Schuster) inspired the documentary.  The video below includes comments from Lukacs when he was at Gonzaga.

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The film chronicles events leading up to the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, and tells how 10 American POWs – survivors of the infamous Bataan Death March and the Fall of Corregidor – and two Filipino convicts planned and carried out the courageous escape from the Davao Penal Colony.

KSPS has aired the documentary twice (May 25 and May 28) and will air it again on KSPS World (Ch. 7.2 over the air / Comcast Ch. 313) on Thursday, June 5 at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.; Friday, June 6 at 1 p.m.; and Sunday, June 8 at 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Meantime, Northwest Profiles presents the heroic story of Spokane veterans Grashio and Jack Donohoe who survived the Bataan Death March at 9:30 p.m., Friday, June 6 on KSPS. On the web: Also on watch full-length interviews with Grashio and Donohoe, recorded in 1995.

Grashio (’38) graduated from Gonzaga Prep in 1936, retired from the Air Force in 1965, and worked for nearly 20 years as special assistant to the president of Gonzaga University before his death in 1999. Grashio appears throughout the film in wartime newsreels, radio broadcasts and still photographs. His widow Devonia Grashio and squadron hero Jack Donohoe, also a Spokane native, appear in the film. Members of the Grashio family attended the event along with many friends. 

“Stories like these can’t be told often enough,” said Gary Stokes, general manager of KSPS.  “KSPS is proud to provide a home for excellent documentaries like this one that help put a face on history.”

“4-4-43: Escape in the Pacific” was an official selection for the prestigious 2014 GI Film Festival in Washington, D.C., May 19-25.

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