Gene Boyt, who earned a degree in mechanical engineering; Robert Silhavy, ceramic engineering; and John McAnerney, civil engineering, were called up to serve in the U.S. Army two weeks after they graduated in 1941. Stationed in the Philippines, the three were part of Allied troops stranded without air support after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Japanese troops began to invade the Philippines and John McAnerney was killed in combat — reckoned to be one of the first Miners to die in World War II. Boyt and Silhavy were taken captive and were able to survive the Bataan Death March, a war crime that involved 60,000-80,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war forcibly marched approximately 65 miles. 

Boyt and Silhavy found each other in a POW camp and one day decided to start conserving their meager food rations for a St. Pat’s Celebration. At approximately noon on March 17, the two made an “Engineer’s Cake” — consisting of a half gallon of rice mixed with milk and butter. It was then covered with jam. The two also put raisins in a jar and allowed them to ferment, making “champagne” for the event. 

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