WOODBRIDGE \u2014 At age 95, World War II veteran Maurice Chartoff quickly recalls the simple item that helped him survive the deadly 60-mile Bataan Death March during World War II: a can to fill with water along the way. He shared his water with many, filling the can at artesian springs along the way and survived, only to then be put in a series of work camps as a Japanese prisoner of war for the next 3\u00bd years. \u201cThe death march and POW camp were both severe and deadly,\u201d said Chartoff, who resides at Brookdale Woodbridge senior living community. \u201cI survived in part because I had a can that held water.\u201d In his first assignment after the march, Chartoff was placed on a hazardous road building assignment that most did not survive and led to his hospitalization before going on to the next camp. He was sick, weak, working in the hot sun with little water and food, which consisted mainly of rice. Of 325 men on that road job, only 50 survived and Chartoff was among them, said his daughter-in-law, Karen Chartoff. His time in the military started in 1941 when, after a year at the University of Vermont \u2014 he grew up in Bennington \u2014 Chartoff decided to enlist in the U.S. Army because he didn\u2019t have enough money to attend a second year. He was 20 and figured he\u2019d get an education in the military. \u201cI didn\u2019t think it was this way,\u201d he said of what would ultimately happen during his time of service. He was trained as a radio operator. He was based in Manila, Philippines, when World War II broke out and when the Japanese took the capital city, Chartoff was captured with his unit in Bataan. He was forced into the 60-mile march, in which the Japanese transferred American and Filipino POWs between prison camps. The march took the lives of 3,000 others. Chartoff, a soft-spoken man, said they took away his watch, water, food, suitcase and helmet for the walk, which during the day was in hot sun. Someone gave him the can along the way and he filled it with water and what little food they got, sharing with others. He also volunteered during the walk to help bury bodies of those who couldn\u2019t make it. Many soldiers who stumbled or fell during the death march were shot or bayonetted, he said. For some reason, they let him keep that can, Chartoff said. Rife with severe physical abuse and killings, the Bataan Death March was later judged to be a Japanese war crime, according to a press release sent to the Register on his (Chartoff\u2019s) behalf. The camps he was held at include O\u2019Donnell, Billibid Prison in Manila, Cabanatuan Camp No. 1. Then, in 1944 until liberation, he was moved to a camp in Japan. In testimony he gave to the United States War Crimes Office in 1946, Chartoff spoke of American prisoners, including himself, being slapped, hit, mistreated and in some cases, severely beaten. They were made to work even when sick or in a weakened state and he recalled a work party being sent out in a typhoon. His testimony showed the cruelties in detail. \u201cUntil July, 1945 we ran to the train whenever an air raid alarm sounded. Many prisoners were beaten for not running fast enough\u2026\u201d he told the interviewer. He also told them that in July 1945 they continued working even with American planes overhead and anti-aircraft being fired at them. \u201cWe were allowed to go to the shelter only after bombs had fallen,\u201d he told the war crimes interviewer, noting an occasion when one POW was killed and another lost his arm. He testified: \u201cWe were only given three rest days a month and on these days we were not allowed to rest until the middle of the afternoon and not then if we desired to be issued clothing or turn clothing in for repair.\u201d Chartoff spent about 3\u00bd years in captivity until he was liberated at the end of the war, when at 6\u2019 tall, he weighed about 95 pounds. Chartoff said he felt exhilarated upon being liberated in 1945 and he climbed an electric factory with smoke stacks across from the camp as food and beverages were dropped from a military plane. After returning from the war, he graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1950 and became an electrical engineer. Although the service wasn\u2019t what he expected at 20, Chartoff said it was worth it to get that education. \u201cIt allowed me to get an education at MIT,\u201d he said. His son, Dr. Stan Chartoff, for 27 years a reservist in the U.S. Air Force, said his dad didn\u2019t talk about his war experiences while he was growing up. \u201cIt\u2019s a amazing what these World War II vets have been through,\u201d said Stan Chartoff, who has been deployed many times, including to Saudi Arabia, Germany and Afghanistan. Karen Chartoff, Stan\u2019s wife, said that World War II group of veterans didn\u2019t tend to talk about their service upon returning \u2014 they just got back to life. Maurice Chartoff settled in New Jersey with his now late wife, Doris, and he came to Woodbridge so he could be close to his son and daughter-in-law. Monica Giuliano, activities coordinator at Brookdale, said she was touched during the dedication of a veteran\u2019s wall at the facility when another veteran announced to the audience that while it was nice to have a wall, it was even better to have a \u201chero\u201d in their midst, referring to Maurice Chartoff, who received applause. Chartoff said he doesn\u2019t consider himself a hero at all. He said he was given two guns, which he would never use and also, he said, he was never shot at by someone else.