Chaplain's Hill Project

Telling the stories of almost 250 U.S. Military Chaplains who lost their lives in the service to the nation

Zerfas, Mathias E.

Basic Biographical Details

Branch: U.S. Army
Conflict: World War II
Monument: Catholic
Born: 5/27/1908
Hometown: Twin Lakes
Home State: Wisconsin
Last place of Worship:
Date of Death: Conflicting dates: Some sources list 12/15/1944 while others list 1/9/1945
Resting Place: died at sea on the Japanese POW ship, Oryoky Maru
Military Honors: Purple Heart
POW (Y/N) Yes



According to the Knights of Columbus Website for Found du Lac Council 664 which was renamed after Father Mathias Zerfus, he was a chaplain for the CCC in Wisconsin, an assistant priest for St.Marys Catholic church in Fond du Lac and was a military chaplain during WWII.

According to the Website, Father Zerfus survived the infamous, horrific Bataan Death March. While a prisoner he celebrated Mass and cared for the sick even though weak himself and literally starving to death. He conducted convert classes and led night prayers and a daily rosary. Father Zerfas was killed when the POW ship moving him was mistakenly attacked by U.S. warplanes.

From Military Historical Documents







Information from family & friends



Father Matthias Zerfes Chaplain US Army Memorial at American Legion Post 544, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin 53181.

National Archives Database of World War II Prisoners of War Data File, 12/7/1941 – 11/19/1946


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