NORTH CREEK The late Joseph G. Minder, who endured horrendous conditions as prisoner of war in World War II — then found solace in later years in skiing at Gore Mountain — is to be memorialized with a local landmark dedicated in his name.
The North Creek Ski Bowl Lodge is to be renamed the Joe Minder Lodge in a ceremony set for 3 p.m. Saturday July 6 at the community facility off Rte. 8 in Johnsburg. The event is to be held in conjection with the town's independence Day ceremonies, which include fireworks, a parade, crafts vendors and children’s activities.
Minder started skiing in 1924 at the age of 7 and he didn’t stop skiing — except for his years as an Army Field Engineer — until he was well into his 80s.
Minder spent more than three years in brutal conditions in Japanese prison camps in the Pacific.
Minder and thousands of other American soldiers on the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines were captured in May 1942 after being outnumbered and overpowered by Japanese troops at Fort Corregidor.
Minder started his overseas military service in 1941, helping build airstrips roads and bridges in Manila during the Allied defense of the Philippines. His combat experience began just hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Minder’s first duty as a POW was to bury hundreds of bodies of his fellow soldiers, some of whom had been brutally tortured to death after capture.
From the beginning of Minder’s imprisonment, food, water and medical care were withheld from the POWs — and they were exposed to brutal heat and bitter cold, he recalled in a 1996 interview with this reporter.
Many of the POWs died of pellagra, beriberi, malaria and scurvy, and the eyesight of many of the surviving U.S. servicemen was dimmed by starvation — 50 of the prisoners routinely shared the contents of one bucket of rice. The prisoners’ “meals” occasionally featured scraps of rotting fish, and the heads, guts and bones were eagerly consumed by the starving POWs, he recalled in his diary which he penned covertly on cigarette papers and stashed away. More than 2,500 U.S. soldiers died at just one of the four Japanese prison camps where Minder his fellow soldiers were imprisoned.