ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Frank Lovato, a decorated war hero from New Mexico who servedhis country in World War II and endured the Bataan Death March waslaid to rest at the National Cemetary in Santa Fe today.
Lovato passed away on Tuesday April 20 at the Veterans Hospitalin Albuquerque after an accident at Kirtland Air Force Base.
The military knew Frank Lovato as Master Sergeant Lovato, heroand survivor of the Bataan Death March. His family andfriends knew as him as dad or grandpa and always with his harmonicain hand.
Lovato was a member of the National Guard in New Mexico and wasone of the first Americans to engage the Japanese in battle inWorld War II. The soldier's biggest challenge came afterbeing forced to surrender to the Japanese and endure the deathmarch as well as life in a prisoner of war camp for threeyears.
When Lovato came back home, he married and had four children. Healso continued his career in the military and joined the Air Forcein 1961.
Friends and family remember Lovato for always wearing hisuniform to special occassions. They also recall his love ofmusic and musical talent. With his harmonica, he was alwaysplaying songs. His son Francisco Lovato says that his dadeven led his fellow prisoners of war in singing "God BlessAmerica," much to the protest of the Japanese while incaptivity.
His biggest lessons of love to his family came from one of thehardest times in his life. "He always extended a hand, afriendship and love and compassion to everyone," said FranciscoLovato. "And it's just been overwhelming to see it, but I knew itwas there. People coming up to me and telling me all about mydad."
Fransisco said his dad would like to be remembered as a simpleman who loved his country and loved people. The two alsowrote a book about Lovato's time in war and his reflections onit. Excerpts can be found at the websitewww.survivorbook.com.
Lovato is the second Bataan Death March survivor from the stateto pass away within the last week. Funeral services forClaude Hatch are planned for tomorrow in Kirtland, New Mexico.
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