FORT SMITH (KFSM) – Funeral services for Lee R. Montgomery were held at Fort Smith National Cemetery on Monday (Sept. 8).
Montgomery was a POW during World War II with the New Mexico National Guard, and was a Bataan Death March survivor.
“The stories he used to tell me -- you could not even fathom what that man went through,” his grandson Randy Shackelford said. “Not just the Bataan Death March, but the eating of grasshoppers and rats and stuff like that just to stay alive."
Montgomery earned two Purple Hearts, a bronze star, presidential unit citation with two oak leaf clusters and several other medals, according to Shackelford.
After he returned from serving his country, Montgomery served Fort Smith as a deacon at the Eastside Baptist Church.
“He never gave up his faith. He was one of the last original members who was still living,” Shackelford said.
Montgomery discovered he had cancer last month, and died Sept. 2. He was 96 years old.
"He was a warrior. He was strong,” his grandson said. “We think the soldier in him said ‘well, cancer's not going to beat us -- I’m just going to die of old age,’ and basically that's what he did.”
According to his obituary from the Lewis-Roberts Funeral Chapel, he is survived by his wife, daughter, two grandsons, one granddaughter, one great grandson, and three brothers.
Donations can be made to the Wounded Warrior Project instead of flowers.