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First Name: Paul

Last Name: Bunker

Birthplace: Alpena, MI, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Delmont

Date of Birth: 07 May 1881

Date of Death: 16 March 1943

Rank: Colonel

Years Served: 1902 - 1943
Paul Delmont Bunker

Graduate, U.S. Military Academy, Class of 1902

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Paul Delmont Bunker
Colonel, U.S. Army

Paul Delmont Bunker was born on 7 May 1881.

U.S. Military Academy

In 1899, Bunker received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy and was enrolled in the Class of 1902. At West Point, Bunker played at the tackle and halfback positions on the Academy's football team from 1899-1902. Bunker was a classmate of Douglas MacArthur, who also served as the manager of the Army football team in 1902 when Bunker was at his peak. Bunker was selected by Walter Camp as a member of the 1901 and 1902 College Football All-America Teams. Bunker is one of a handful of athletes to win All-America honors at two different positions. He was selected as an All-American tackle in 1901 and as a halfback in 1902.

In 2008, Sports Illustrated sought to identify the college football players who would have likely won the Heisman Trophy as the best player in the sport during each of the years before the award's inception in 1935. Sports Illustrated selected Bunker as the retroactive Heisman Trophy winner for 1902.

In 1901, the U.S. Congress appointed a committee to investigate hazing at the U.S. Military Academy. Upperclassmen in the academy were accused of engaging in dangerous hazing activities with the first-year students, known as "plebes." Bunker, well-known to the public for his accomplishments in football, became one of the subjects of the investigation. Some of the plebes told the Congressional committee conducting the investigation that Bunker had forced them to consume Tabasco sauce. Bunker acknowledged having braced some of the plebes, but denied ever having given more than fifteen drops of sauce to any one. Bunker testified that his hazing activities were confined to bracing, "making men sing out their wash lists to popular airs, ride broomsticks, stand on their heads and charge sparrows with fixed bayonets." The investigation led to a ban on all hazing at the Academy and was the subject of the 1999 book, "Bullies and Cowards: The West Point Hazing Scandal, 1898-1901."

Bunker's military branch was Coastal Defense Artillery. In 1915, he was assigned to a position with a coast artillery regiment on Corregidor Island in the Philippines. He served as Commander of Fort Amador in Panama (1919–1921). In 1927, he was charged with setting up an impregnable defense for the city of New York during a tour of duty at Fort Totten in Willets Point, NY. In 1937, Bunker was assigned to a coast artillery unit at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro, Los Angeles, CA.

In 1940, Bunker, then a Colonel, returned to the Philippines and assumed command of the 59th Coast Artillery Regiment (U.S.) at Fort Hughes in Manilla Bay. There, Bunker was reunited with his college roommate, Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Following the Japanese military offensive against the Philippines, President Roosevelt ordered MacArthur to evacuate the islands. MacArthur reluctantly left, promising to send reinforcements that never came.

Bunker remained in command of the coastal artillery in Manilla Bay during the Battle of Corregidor. On 5 May 1942, the battle came to an end when the half-starved U.S. forces commanded by Gen. Wainwright surrendered after an heroic last-ditch stand. When Gen. Wainwright decided to surrender at Corregidor, he ordered Bunker to lower the U.S. flag and burn it to prevent its falling into the hands of the Japanese forces. Wainwright later recalled, "Promptly at noon this 6 May 1942, I ordered the white flag run up and our firing ceased. It was with the sickest of feelings that I gave the white-flag-raising order to Colonel Paul D. Bunker." Instead of burning the entire flag, Bunker cut off a piece and concealed it under a patch on his shirt. Bunker sent for Colonel Delbert Ausmus, cut the flag remnant into two pieces and gave one of the pieces to Ausmus. He told Colonel Ausmus he did not expect to survive the prison camp and that it was Ausmus' duty to take his piece of the flag to the Secretary of War.

At age 61, Bunker became a prisoner of war and died of starvation and disease in a Japanese prison camp at Karenko, Taiwan. Fellow prisoners recalled that Bunker wasted away from 220 pounds down to 150 pounds prior to his death. Gen. Wainwright later recalled the circumstances of Bunker's death in the prison camp, still holding onto the flag remnant: "He must have suffered ... constant pain of hunger ... I sat with him for a part of the last two hours of his life ... [He was] cremated in the rags in which he had carefully sewn a bit of the American flag he had pulled down in Corregidor."

Colonel Ausmus did deliver his flag remnant to the Secretary of War who unveiled it during a speech on the event of Flag Day in June 1946. The remnant of the U.S. flag from Corregidor saved by Bunker and Ausmus is on display in the USMA Museum.


Bunker's 190-page diary of his time on Corregidor was published posthumously under the title Paul Bunker’s War and became a best-seller.

In June 1946, one of the U.S. Army's Coastal Artillery Batteries located at Fort MacArthur was renamed the Battery Paul D. Bunker, BCN-127 to honor Bunker's memory.

He was posthumously inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1969.

Death and Burial

Colonel Paul Delmont Bunker died as a POW on 16 March 1943. He is buried at the U.S. Military Academy Post Cemetery in West Point, NY.

Honoree ID: 2298   Created by: MHOH




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