2019 Top 10 Stories: Honorable mention — Walt Straka turns 100

Walt Straka, Bataan Death March survivor, talks about his experiences from his south Brainerd home recently. Straka turned 100 in November 2019. (Brainerd Dispatch/ Steve Kohls)

Walt Straka, Brainerd’s last Bataan Death March survivor, did what he never expected — turned 100 years of age Oct. 24, 2019.

Straka has never been far from the memories of Brainerd area residents in a community that annually honors the soldiers who returned after World War II and those who never came back. Straka is the last Minnesotan survivor of the 60-mile journey of torture and death, followed by 43 months as a prisoner of war. Each year, Straka also remembers and attends the community memorials. Of the 64 men from the tank company who left Brainerd and went with the 194th to the Philippines, three were killed in action and 29 died as POWs.

This year, Mayor Ed Menk declared Nov. 11, 2019, as Walt Straka Day.

Visit for the rest of the Brainerd Dispatch's 2019 Top 10 list.

— Renee Richardson

What To Read Next
Get Local