The Irving Rathblott Story


Irving Rathblott is gone. Death, iron-faced and silent, came suddenly on January 9, the dirty hold of a Japanese prison it wallowed helplessly under a rain of American bombs in Taku Harbor, Formosa. Quiet, efficient, a habitual pipe-smoker with groomed mustache, a pleasant voice, conscientious and thorough, practical--he is forever a Sigma Alpha Rho symbol. No, Not because he was twice elected Supreme Exalted Ruler...nor because he authored the present Fraternity induction ritual. Certainly not because he was Sigma Rho of Omega Chapter...nor Exalted Ruler of Philadelphia District Council...or Chancellor, Supreme Exchequer, Exalted Mortal Ruler on the Supreme Board...or Director of Convention when the roof was raised in Baltimore in 1939 (the infamous days that Hitler began his mad conquest into death)...

Irv--"Mr. Sigma Alpha Rho"--lived S.A.R. Brotherhood. He ate it, worked it, slept it--and died for it! Now he's memorialized it. Ironically, the fatal blow was delivered by a B-29. Blame not the Yank airman...the prison ship was not identified...the bombardier's squint at the target could have revealed nothing more than a junky piece of Jap shipping. If reports are true, Irv lies buried in an unmarked grave 50 yards off Taku Harbor...surrounded by some 70 of his buddies killed with him as they lay sweating and scared--but inwardly cheering the return of the Americans--in the lousy stinking leaky hold.

Irv was a reserve officer in the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps--also Supreme Exalted Ruler--when called into service in 1941. He was sent to Hot Springs, Arkansas. But a chance for a promotion to a first lieutenancy, which he achieved, prompted him to ask for an overseas assignment. He finished his second term as S.E.R. in Manila. He was on Bataan when the Japanese struck at Pearl Harbor. He was captured there in May with Lieut. Joseph Goodman, of Xi Chapter, and Private Lewis Goldstein, Phi Chapter. All three survived the Death March.

Joe was talking to Irv on that Jap prison ship when the American bomb fell. Irv spent from May 5, 1942 to December 12, 1944 in Jap prison camps in the Philippines. None any good. Then the Japs decided to move the Americans to Japan. The Nipponese loaded some 1200 men into a slimy boat and bedded them down with vermin, rats and man-eating insects. But American bombs sank that boat before it had scarcely moved out of Manila Harbor, killing 900 men. Irv was rescued with Joe only to be put on another boat and sent to Formosa. There in Taku Harbor you know what happened. "Irv! Irv! Irv!" he yelled. No answer. Ever.


Author - Brother Leon L. Linder, Past Supreme Exalted Ruler 1951-1953