Lt. Jose "Pepe" Gozar was a young pilot whose bravery in the air battles of World War II earned him the Distinguished Flying Cross for Heroism. He was on his wasy from Mindoro to Leyte to join Gen. Douglas MacArthur's forces when he was captured and executed by the Japanese.
Pepe, was born in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, on April 8, 1918; son of Juan Gozar and Calixta Cangco. He completed his elementary schooling and graduated as salutatorian from the Mindoro High School in March, 1936.
He enrolled at the University of the Philippines College of Commerce and worked as a student assistant in the College. After completing the required units, he enlisted in the Air Corps, Philippine Army, in April, 1938; entered the Flying School in October, 1938 and graduated in 1940. He served as instructor in the Flying School at Zablan Air Field until the outbreak of the war on December 8, 1941.
With Captain Collin Kelly and Col. Jesus Villamor, he received a citation from Gen. Douglas MacArthur for "his display of courage and leadership," for shooting down two Japanese bombers during the war. Together with a friend, also from the Air Corps, Lt. Gozar joined the army in Bataan and Corregidor for the last stand of the Philippine Army. He escaped the infamous "Death March"; tried to reach Mindanao with the hope of reaching Australia by any means of transportation. The Japs placed a fabulous price on his head as an army aviator...unsurrendered. At Bacolod, Negros Occidental, he had misunderstandings with the guerillas who suspected him to be a Japanese spy.
Sending danger and liquidation, he left on a sailboat with two friends. Caught by storm on the open sea, he abandoned the little craft and swam to the shore with one of his companions. He was captured and executed by the Japanese in 1944.
Date of Issue: October 20, 1955