Mario Tonelli

Mario Tonelli

Mario Tonelli
Date of birth: (1916-03-27)March 27, 1916
Place of birth: Chicago, Illinois
Date of death: January 7, 2003(2003-01-07) (aged 86)
Career information
Position(s): Running back
College: University of Notre Dame
As player:
1940 Chicago Cardinals

Mario Tonelli (March 27, 1916 – January 7, 2003) was a professional American football player who played running back for one season for the Chicago Cardinals

A sergeant in the US Army 200th Coast Artillery who survived the Bataan Death March. During the Death March his Notre Dame class ring was stolen by a Japanese guard. Miraculously it was returned by an English speaking Japanese Officer who had been educated at the University of Southern California and had seen Tonelli score the winning touchdown in the 1937 game between the two schools. Tonelli later buried the ring in a metal soap dish beneath his prison barracks to confound would be thieves. Later he was transferred to Davo Penal Colony "Dapecol." Of the 2,009 estimated total number of POWs that were in Dapecol during its existence from October 1942- June 1944 only 805 would survive the war. He had the nickname "Motts" while in the Army and as a Prisoner of war.[1]


  1. ^ Lukacs, John (2010). Escape From Davo: the Forgotten Story of the Most Daring Prison Break of the Pacific War. USA: NAL Caliber, a division of Penguin Group. pp. 64, 79, 80, 102, 106, 160, 293.  

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