John Robert Sutherland

1918 - 2007


Their Story

John R. “Jock” Sutherland was born on October 13, 1918, in Butler, Pennsylvania, to James and Ethel (Weir) Sutherland.[1] After high school, he attended and graduated from Carnegie Technical College (now Carnegie Mellon University). He eventually went on to earn a Master of Science degree from the University of Dallas.[2] He enlisted in the U.S. Army and rose through officers ranks to that of Captain in 1942.[3]

Captain Sutherland served in the European Theater during World War II.[4] During that time, he was captured and was a prisoner of war of Germany at the Oflag 64 (short for Offizierslager meaning “officers camp”)[5] in Poland.[6] The prisoner of war camp designated Oflag was established by the Germans during World War II in Szubin, Poland to detain captured American officers.[7] The first American officers arrived in the camp on June 6, 1943. The initial occupants numbered around 150. By the time the camp was evacuated in January 1945, their ranks had grown to approximately 1,400 men.

Sutherland was one of only about 200 “Kriegies”[8] (camp prisoner nickname) who successfully escaped the camp.[9] For his time in capture, he was awarded the Prisoner of War (POW) Medal.[10] This medal was issued only to those U.S. military personnel who were taken prisoner and held captive by an enemy during time of war.

Additionally, as a result of his bravery and heroism while serving, Sutherland was awarded the Bronze Star[11] and the Purple Heart.[12]

The Bronze Star Medal became part of the Army military award catalog during World War II.[13] It is the fourth-highest ranking award a service member can receive for a heroic and meritorious deeds. Service members must perform these acts during an armed conflict against an enemy of the United States. The medal is awarded in three categories: valor, merit, and achievement. For those who receive the Bronze Star, it is a signal of their sacrifice, bravery and honor while serving their country.

The Purple Heart is one of the most recognizable awards in all of the US Armed Forces.[14]  In 1942, the War Department verified the award be for military merit for wounds received in action, or to one who was killed by enemy action. The Purple Heart is the oldest active military award in the United States and is the highest award that is automatically given to any officer or enlisted person as soon as the criteria are met, meaning there is no proposal or review like other awards for valor or merit. It can also be awarded multiple times for wounds received on separate occasions.

Captain Sutherland was honorably discharged from the Army after the end of World War II. He returned home and married Lorraine (Fearing) in 1948 in Allison Park, Pennsylvania.[15] The couple eventually settled in Rock Island, Illinois where they raised their children.

Sutherland worked as an instructor on Arsenal Island (Rock Island, Illinois) in the former Army Munitions and Engineering Training Agency.[16] He retired in 1972. He and his wife then travelled the US in a motorhome doing genealogical research of his surname Sutherland family. His efforts in this research lasted for over 20 years and he became well-known throughout the world by the Genealogists of Clan Societies.[17]

Sutherland passed away on August 14, 2007, at the age of 88, leaving his wife, three children (one daughter preceded him in death), grandchildren and great-grandsons.[18] He was interred into burial at the National Cemetery at Rock Island Arsenal on August 23, 2007.[19]


[1] The Dispatch

[2] Quad-City Times

[3] Fold3

[4] The Rock Island Argus

[5] Oflag 64 Remembered

[6] The Dispatch

[7] Oflag 64 Remembered

[8] Oflag 64 Remembered

[9] Quad-City Times

[10] Prisoner of war medal

[11] Quad-City Times

[12] Quad-City Times

[13] What is a Bronze Star?

[14] History of the Purple Heart

[15] The Dispatch

[16] Quad-City Times

[17] Quad-City Times

[18] The Dispatch

 [19] The Rock Island Argus