CMSgt Harold Anthony Bergbower
May 11, 1920 – November 2, 2019
Harold Anthony Bergbower, age 99, slipped the bonds of earth into blissful peace on November 2, 2019. He was born to Joseph Edward and Katherine Bergbower on May 11, 1920 in Newton, Illinois. Harold, along with four brothers and two sisters, grew up in a farm family. He remembered riding into town on a hay wagon as a young boy. The family later moved from the farm to the city of Decatur, Illinois where he attended school, graduating from Decatur High School in 1938. The day after Harold’s 19th birthday in 1939, he and a friend joined the Army Air Corp. Following his training as an aircraft mechanic, he was sent to the Philippine Islands as part of the 28th Bomb Group. The coordinated Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (Dec. 7, 1941) and Clark Airfield in the Philippines (Dec. 8, 1941) entered America into WWII. Harold joined with his comrades in fighting the first battles encountered by American forces on Bataan. Due to battle conditions, Harold and comrades evacuated to the island of Mindinao where he was captured by the Japanese. Harold spent thirty nine months as a prisoner of war (POW) enduring forced labor in a Japanese steel mill until being liberated by American forces in September of 1945. Upon returning to the United States, he met and later married Eunice Bingamon on April 17, 1946. Harold and Eunice had three children, Michael (1947); Greg (1949); and Debra (1954). Harold continued to serve his country in the United States Air Force until 1969. He and his family were sent to multiple duty stations during that time: Chanute AFB, Champagne-Urbana, Illinois (1946-1954); Hamamatsu and Ituzuke, Japan (1954-1957); Tinker AFB, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (1957-1961); Brookley AFB, Mobile, Alabama (1961-1966); McClellan AFB, Sacramento, California (1966-1969). After thirty years of active duty service, Harold retired from the Air Force achieving the rank of Chief Master Sergeant. Medals: Bronze Star, Purple Heart (5X), Commendation Medal, POW Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense, American Campaign, Asiatic Pacific, Philippine Defense, Philippine Liberation, Philippine Presidential Unit Citation, Combat Infantry Badge and the Filipino Veterans of WWII Congressional Gold Medal.
In retirement, Eunice and Harold moved to Sun City, Arizona to be near Eunice’s parents, George and Martha Bingamon, who lived in Youngtown. Harold would continue living in Arizona for over fifty years. Harold worked at Sun City golf courses, becoming a Teaching Pro. He even taught girl’s golf at Peoria High School as a volunteer. Eunice and Harold enjoyed a life with many friends and activities. They especially enjoyed being the “adopted grandparents” of children at the elementary school where Debra was a teacher. After Eunice died in 1997, Harold moved to Peoria and became increasingly involved with the veteran’s organization, American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor (ADBC). He served as the National Commander for the organization from 2005-2006. As their representative, he laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery and was recognized at the White House by President George Bush and Laura Bush. Harold was also a member of the Agua Fria Chapter of the American EX-POW organization. While living in Peoria next door to Debra and her family, Harold branched out to become an equestrian. He took riding lessons and purchased two wonderful quarter horses. Besides the usual love, care, and exercise he gave to his companions, Harold also enjoyed taking them on trail rides with friends. Several years ago he donated the horses, tack, and a horse trailer to the Phoenix Zoo to help with their youth riding program. Dad was an avid supporter of the Phoenix Zoo and made generous donations to assist their continued success.
Every day Dad raised the American flag in front of his house and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. He lowered the flag every evening. As the houses faces west, we can now consider the sunset of his life with the words of Taps, “Day is done, gone the sun, from the lake, from the hills, from the sky. All is well, safely rest, God is nigh….Thanks and praise, for our days, ‘neath the sun, ‘neath the stars, ‘neath the sky; as we go, this we know, God is nigh…While the light fades from sight, and the stars gleaming rays softly send; to Thy hands ,we our souls, Lord, do commend.”
Harold is our inspiration for love of family, loyalty to country and devotion to duty. Proceeded in death by his son in-law Heinz Grunwald. He is survived by his brother Neil; 3 children Mike, Greg, Debra, daughter in-law Leslie Bergbower; grandchildren: Amanda (Jeremy) Severied, Doug Bergbower, Sean Bergbower, Andrea (Jayesh) Sheth, Susan (Dylan) Hickmott; step-grandchildren: Michael Grunwald, Shauna Santiago; great-grandchildren: Kaden Bergbower, Tanner Hickmott, Valerie Severeid; and step great –grandchildren: Avery, Brooklyn, and Savannah….plus hundreds who lovingly called him “Grandpa”.
- Mike Bergbower, Son
- Greg Bergbower, Son
- Debra Grunwald, Daughter
- Leslie Bergbower, Daughter-in-law
- Amanda (Jeremy) Severied, Granddaughter
- Doug Bergbower, Grandson
- Sean Bergbower, Grandson
- Andrea (Jayesh) Sheth, Granddaughter
- Susan (Dylan) Hickmott, Granddaughter
- Michael Grunwald, Step Grandson
- Shauna Santiago, Step Granddaughter
- Kaden Bergbower, Great Grandson
- Tanner Hickmott, Great Grandson
- Valerie Severied, Great Granddaughter
- Avery, Brooklyn & Savannah, Step Great-Grandchildren
- 100's of others that called him "Grandpa"
Saturday, November 16, 2019
Graveside Service with Military Honors
Saturday, November 16, 2019
CMSgt Harold Anthony Bergbower
February 26, 2021
I had the honor of meeting and talking with Chief Bergbower every time I did the Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands, New Mexico. This man and his fellow survivors are a national treasure; we shall never see the likes of them again.
September 21, 2020
Harold bergbower was my great grandfather.
April 6, 2020
I am so sorry to hear that Harold passed. He brightened my days when I served him at The Good Egg! His quick wit, sincere nature and never ending curiosity were inspiring. He was a great baker (I remember his trick of using apple sauce instead of oil) and also loved to sew/embroider. He always took the time to make you feel special and I could have listened to his stories forever. The way that her persevered and triumphed over the cruelties he endured and witnessed while a POW was truly remarkable. He was never boastful instead honest and real about his memories. Educating anyone he could so as to try and avoid history repeating itself. He came to my son's birthday party one year and truly lit up the party. :) I think of him often and always smile. My thoughts are with the family.
February 28, 2020
The Bataan Memorial Death March (BMDM) at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico held every year to recognize the sacrifice and tenacity of the American and Filipino soldiers who were surrendered at Bataan. CMSgt Bergbower was an iconic figure at the Bataan Memorial Death March at both the beginning and end of the March. I had the honor of shaking hands with him at the start of several of the 12 annual marches I have done. I am one of many who will miss him and mourn his passing at BMDM on 15 March, 2020.
January 15, 2020
This took me some time to do as I don't have one memory but thousands over the last 10 years that I knew Grandpa. Being neighbors and friends we shared the love of horses together. We got to have a new baby horse born at his house (he said it was on his bucket list) and we had the joy of helping, riding and loving on his boys since he couldn't ride as he had done before. We did get him up there on Drifty for his 96th birthday and he had the biggest smile! I am sure he is riding once again! We shared birthdays and special occasions and when I could I brought him a super big cookie from my work. He was always excited about even something as small as that. Loved our conversations and he had the biggest heart and love for God, his family and country. I will miss his sweet smile and amazing outlook of life.
November 18, 2019
I remember when Mr. Bergbower came to visit Mrs. Peterson's 4th grade class at Sun Valley Elementary School in November 2014 to share his experiences in the Pacific Theater during WWII. I as well as the whole class was captivated by his story. When Mr. Bergbower finished, all the young students asked him valid, reasonable, pertinent questions. I, along with the class, want to thank him for his service!
November 17, 2019
I have many fond memories of Grandpa. I'm one of those many "adopted" grandchildren that he had. I'm deeply proud and honored to be one of his "grand daughters". He never let me call him "Sir" or "Mr. Bergbower" as I was taught growing up - he told me to call him Grandpa and so I did. Grandpa showed me compassion, his big heart, loved hugs and I will continue to serve in his name for other veterans. I love you, Grandpa! Thank you for coming into my life when I needed guidance the most.
Steve & Cheryl Bingamon
November 15, 2019
Michael, Greg, Debra, and family,
Uncle Harold will be terribly missed by all who had the privilege of meeting him. He was a true American hero! He taught us, as his brick at the Decatur, Illinois, World War II Memorial states, “Freedom is not free!!” Our sincere condolences are with you all at this sad time. Love and prayers, Steve & Cheryl
November 15, 2019
I am so blessed to have had Harold in my and my children’s lives even for just a few years. His smile always made my heart happy and my kids just adored him! He also taught myself and my children what sacrifice really means and that is a lesson we will never forget. So happy he is with the love of his life now but also mourn the loss of his presence in our lives. Love you Grandpa!!
November 14, 2019
Dear Debra and Family,
We are so sorry to hear about the death of your father, and what a loving, courageous, and patriotic man he was on earth. Our hearts ache for you, but may happy memories carry you through this sorrowful time.
Love, Donna & Soren
November 14, 2019
Another Patriot left planet earth this November. I only knew Harold for twenty years as a friend and customer , But a real man of faith and courage that fought for our liberty !
Thank you Harold Bergbower God Bless !
Dales Town and Country
November 10, 2019
I loved Grandpa very much and I am very sad he is gone but now he is up in heaven with his beloved wife Grandma
Leland and Ruth Chandler
November 8, 2019
A tremendous hero whom we had the privilege of knowing but briefly. Our sincere condolences at the loss of a great man.
November 8, 2019
On behalf of the entire Sunland Memorial Park & Mortuary family, you have our deepest condolences for your loss.