Other Notable Deaths


September 05, 2006

Guy Gabaldon, 80, who as an 18-year-old Marine private single-handedly persuaded more than 1,000 Japanese soldiers to surrender in the World War II battle for Saipan, died of a heart attack Thursday at his home in Miami, his son, Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Hunter Gabaldon, said yesterday.

Using an elementary knowledge of Japanese, bribes of cigarettes and candy, and trickery with tales of encampments surrounded by American troops, Mr. Gabaldon was able to persuade soldiers to abandon their posts and surrender.

The scheme was so brazen - and so amazingly successful - it won the young Marine the Navy Cross, and fame when his story was told on television's This Is Your Life and in the 1960 movie Hell to Eternity.

"My plan, as impossible as it seemed, was to get near a Japanese emplacement, bunker, or cave, and tell them that I had a bunch of Marines with me and we were ready to kill them if they did not surrender," he wrote in his 1990 memoir Saipan: Suicide Island.

Warren Mitofsky, 71, a survey researcher who pioneered the use of exit polls to cover elections in the United States and internationally and helped develop the sampling method used in most modern telephone polling, died of an aortic aneurysm Friday in New York City.

He began conducting exit polls in 1967 for CBS News and developed the projection and analysis systems used by CBS and later by a consortium of news organizations. In an exit poll, voters from a random sample of precincts are surveyed after they cast their ballots to quickly determine which candidates they supported and why.

With fellow researcher Joseph Waksberg, Mr. Mitofsky helped invent a way to sample households by telephone to efficiently reach people with unlisted as well as listed phone numbers. The random digit dial method now is a survey research standard.

George Johnson, 112, considered California's oldest person and the state's last surviving World War I veteran, died Wednesday of pneumonia in Los Angeles.

Dr. L. Stephen Coles, founder of the Gerontology Research Group at the University of California, Los Angeles, said Mr. Johnson lived almost exclusively off junk food like sausages and waffles. Mr. Johnson, who was blind and living alone until his 110th birthday when a caregiver began helping him, built his Richmond, Calif., house by hand in 1935. He got around using a walker in recent years.

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