Friday, September 15, 2017

2017 MIA/POW Recognition Day

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Nearly every member of congress has a POW/MIA Flag 
at door of their Washington Office. 
Nearly none bothered to acknowledge today. We will remember.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

‘I didn’t think I would live this long

World War II veteran and Bataan Death March survivor Eddie Graham turns 100 on September 5th

The Wichita Eagle, September 2, 2017 5:47 PM


Eddie Graham never expected to see this day.

Not after trudging more than 60 miles through the jungles of the Philippines at gunpoint in what became known as the Bataan Death March in World War II.
Or seeing fellow prisoners marched away, never to return. Or subsisting on a cup of rice a day, often less because he would sneak some of his portion to others in poor health.

Or digging a new trench every day to bury those who had died overnight, sometimes stacking the bodies four or five deep.

“No, I didn’t think I would live this long,” Graham said softly as he looked around at the large crowd gathered in north Wichita to celebrate his 100th birthday on Saturday. “But I’m still here. Somebody’s watching over me.”

Graham’s birthday is actually on Tuesday, but celebrating it on Saturday carried significance: it not only meant relatives could converge on Wichita from around the country, it was the same day Japan formally surrendered aboard the U.S.S. Missouri in 1945, ending World War II.

Barely more than 50 survivors of the Bataan Death March are still alive.

“When I was a kid, my aunt — Eddie’s wife — told us not to ask him questions because it would cause him to have nightmares at night,” said Wanda Graham, who lives in Portales, N.M. “So we never talked about it.”

Graham kept those horrific memories tucked away until he was into his 90s, when the brother of his caretaker talked him into speaking to a class at a Maize school. That brother is now the mayor of Wichita.


Graham voluntarily enlisted in the New Mexico National Guard and was assigned to the 200th Coast Artillery Regiment at an American base in the Philippines two months before the attacks on Pearl Harbor December 1941. He fought in the Battle of Bataan and then with nearly 75,000 American and Filipino troops forced on the 65 mile infamous Bataan Death March to Camp O'Donnell. When the camp closed he was transferred to Camp Cabanatuan to work in the fields. On 20 September 1943 with 850 prisoners he was taken aboard the Taga Maru in Manila, also known as the Coral Maru.Seventy men died during the 15 day voyage to Moji, Japan via Formosa. In Japan, he was taken to Osaka where he became a slave laborer at a steel mill for Nippon Steel in Hirohata Osaka 12-B POW Camp (also known as Harima "O" Camp or Hirohata Divisional Camp). Nippon Steel still exists today as Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation. This company has yet to issue an apology to the hundreds of Allied POW slave laborers it used against the Geneva Convention during the War. Interestingly, former Amb. Ichiro Fujisaki, who arranged for Japan's official apology to the POWs in 2009 and reconciliation trips, is on the company's board.


The memories have been trickling out since then, friends and relatives say.

He has never considered himself a hero. He credits his survival to faith and good fortune, friends and family say.

Mayor Jeff Longwell said he asked Graham where he found the strength to persevere during those dark days. Prayer, Graham told him.

One of the few personal items Graham was allowed to keep as a prisoner was his rosary. A devout Catholic, he prayed that rosary every day.

There are moments during his time as a prisoner of war for which there is no explanation, relatives said.

One was when the prisoners were separated into two long lines. Graham was in one line, but felt uneasy about it.

“He didn’t know why, but he felt like he needed to get into the other one,” said Janelle Longwell, the sister-in-law of his caretaker.

When the guards moved out of view, Graham slipped into the other line. The line of prisoners he had been in was marched into the jungle — and never returned.

One day in camp, Graham and a few other prisoners were given red ribbons, Wendy Graham said. Filled with another uneasy feeling, Graham hid the ribbon in the dirt when no one was looking.

He then darted over to the prisoners without ribbons. The prisoners with ribbons were never seen again.

After he was finally liberated, Graham returned to the U.S. and settled into civilian life. He married soon after the war and raised a family, working as a carpenter.

He has always laughed easily and forgiven quickly, relatives say. He harbored no bitterness toward his captors or the Japanese soldiers.

“They were just doing their job,” he told family.

He’s almost impossible to beat at cards and his mind is still sharp at 100, his sister-in-law Angie Graham said.

Graham is more than willing to go serve his country again if called, Longwell said, though he admits that at 100 he doesn’t move as fast as he once did.

“A few years ago, I asked him, ‘What’s the best thing that’s happened to you? What’s the best thing that you’ve experienced?’ ” Wendy Graham said. “And he said, ‘Life.’

“He realized that was the most valuable thing that he had.”

Monday, September 04, 2017

Maywood Bataan Day - September 10

Maywood Parade 1942

Maywood Veterans – A Century of Service and Sacrifice

MAYWOOD, IL – As it has for three quarters of a century, Maywood will mark Maywood Bataan Day on September 10th, 2017, at Maywood Veterans Memorial Park in Maywood, Il.

It was 75 years ago this fall that the citizens of Maywood were feeling helpless in the face of terrible events on the other side of the earth, that had endangered the lives of nearly 100 of their finest young men – in something we know today as the Death March of Bataan. But they were not passive; they decided to do something about it. They quickly arranged an astounding show of support. On September 11, 1942, an estimated 30,000 people lined 5th Avenue in this suburb to watch hundreds of children march in support of the war effort. Later, a larger parade would step off – this second parade lasted 3 hours and involved literally thousands of participants. Bands, floats, celebrities and politicians all marched to show their support for Maywood – and for all the small towns, that had placed their loved ones in harm’s way to fight for freedom.

From that day to this, Maywood has continued to mark the second Sunday in September with a Memorial Service. Due to changing economics and the loss of many of the veterans of that great war, the parades were discontinued years ago. But the Memorial Service continues. And this year, to mark the 75th Anniversary of that first Maywood Bataan Day, the Village of Maywood and the Maywood Bataan Day Organization have put together a special program, that will not only remember the men of Bataan, but will also include special events, that mark the century since the United States declared war on Germany and entered World War I. Just as they would in World War II, the men of Maywood answered the call and signed up to fight across the ocean. They would join other units of the Illinois National Guard to become part of the vaunted 33rd Division.

A concert of military and other appropriate music will precede the service at 2:30 pm. The music will be provided by the 144th Ceremonial Band of the Illinois National Guard, under the direction of Sgt First Class Robert Reed.

Master of Ceremonies will be MBDO Vice President, Edwin H. Walker IV. Colors will be presented by several area American Legion, VFW, and ROTC Color Guards. In past years color guard units from Maywood, Melrose Park, Berwyn, Hillside, Des Plaines, Chicago, Palatine, Elmhurst, Frankfort, Mokena, River Forest, LaGrange, Northlake, and many other Chicago and suburban cities have participated. A Rifle Squad Gun Salute will be provided by the American Legion Post #974 in Franklin Park, Illinois.

Keynote Speaker will be Major General Richard J. Hayes, Jr., Adjutant General of the State of Illinois. Major General Hayes is a repeat guest and his presence underscores the valued memories, that the men of Co. B, 192nd Tank Battalion continue to hold for members of the Illinois National Guard.

The ceremonies will also include a guest speaker from the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago, and Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins. Daniel J. Perkins, Event Coordinator and Consultant, will make a special presentation on the history of Maywood in World War I. Other highlights of the Memorial Service include a dedication of a Veterans Memorial Wall, a new Memorial Plaque for a WWI-era British Cannon, that has been located in the Village of Maywood for nearly a century as a memorial to the men who fought in WWI, and a Wreath Laying Ceremony, featuring members of all branches of our Armed Forces, as well as related community organizations.

Additional special guests scheduled to attend include members of the Village of Maywood Village Board of Trustees and other invited local community leaders.

Col. Richard A. McMahon, Jr., President of the Maywood Bataan Day Organization, extends an invitation to the entire community, saying, “Maywood Bataan Day today is one of the largest and longest continuous World War II memorials still being marked annually. Attendance continues to grow and we are honored to be able to meet our commitment to the men and women who serve our country when we promised in 1942, that we would ‘Remember Bataan’.”

The Maywood Bataan Day Organization is dedicated to preserving the memory of Bataan Day and perpetuating the observance of Maywood’s Bataan Day on the second Sunday of September. Our modern mission includes supporting veterans of all wars and providing educational resources through our archives and our website.

The organization is a non-profit 501(c)(19) organization, that is supported by donations of time and money from the community, as well as relatives and friends of those who have served their country.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Not the last Guam POW Survivor

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With the beginning of the year-long claims period for civilian survivors (Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act) of Japan's brutal occupation of Guam, December 10, 1941 to August 10, 1944, attention is also focusing on the American military men and women who were captured on Guam. The Pacific territory was the first American outpost to fall to Japan. Roger Mansell's Captured is the definitive book on the American POWs from Guam.

On April 27th, Navy Lt. Jack Schwartz celebrated his 102nd birthday in Hanford, California. At 99, in 2014, he returned to Japan as a guest of the Japanese government hoping to make amends for the damage and suffering Imperial Japan inflicted upon him. His Congressman, David G. Valadao celebrated Jack's birthday with recognition in the Congressional Record. Jack, however, wants it known that he has two great grandchildren, not one.

Also in April, a former Navy Pharmacist Mate captured on Guam released his memoirs.  Peter B. Marshall spoke to a reporter from the Defense Department about his ordeal and new book, 1368 Days.

Peter B. Marshall shows off his new book
Fighting a Different War

DVIDS Media, June 15, 2017

Story by Lance Cpl. Isaac Martinez, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma

Prescott Valley, Arizona, is a warm and sunny far cry from the brutal camps where the Japanese held American prisoners of war on mainland Japan during World War II. Peter B. Marshall has known both places intimately.

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Growing up in the midst of the Great Depression, Marshall’s family had no car, no electricity, no indoor plumbing, and no indoor heating. The nearest school, which his father built, was miles away. From an early age, he remembers walking three miles to school each day.

Everything that Marshall’s family had was either made by them or bought in trade. His father, a farmer, worked very hard to yield his crops and maintain one of the best gardens in town. In addition, his father ran a small-home tomato canning factory, owned a blacksmith shop, a fence-making machine, and a mill for which he could provide other services. 

Marshall’s mother raised pedigreed chickens, selling their eggs to the hatchery, and sold cream and male calves. When it came to feeding her children, hot cereal with milk, cornmeal mush, and rice were staples. Corn was eaten in season and meat was prepared, if one of the kids caught a squirrel or rabbit, earlier that day.

Despite all of this, he and his siblings always had plenty of food and warm clothing; they lived a good life, Marshall said.

“After high school, there were no jobs,” he explained. “So I joined the Navy when I was 18. I had no trouble with the training in Great Lakes, Illinois, and after training, we were given ten days of boot leave to go home.”

Marshall did not know, however, that this would be the last time he would see home until late 1945.

Marshall’s unique experience in the Navy helped him overcome the many obstacles he’s faced in his life, including outliving many of his beloved friends and family members.

Upon his return from boot leave, Marshall didn’t know what job he wanted, so he chose to become a hospital corpsman. He passed the school with high grades, and received orders to start working in the surgery ward at US Naval Hospital San Diego. There, he quickly became proficient in his specialty.

Marshall never thought that he would be sent overseas, yet he got orders to report to the destroyer base to be transported to Guam. He had never even heard of Guam. He may as well have been given orders to the moon; it was all foreign for him. Marshall left for Guam February 5, 1941.

Marshall was assigned the night shift at the naval hospital in Guam. One night, a patient had a heart attack and Marshall called the officer on duty. While he waited, he prepared the operating room and even had the first syringe, which he knew the incoming doctor would ask for, ready. Seconds later, Dr. Van Peenen, the doctor on duty, urgently rushed in the room and asked for a syringe, which was handed to him by the young, calm Marshall.

After the incident, Van Peenen spoke with Marshall and told him that he was impressed with how Marshall had handled the situation. He asked Marshall to work with him as his instrument nurse in the operating room and Marshall agreed. Marshall quickly became Van Peenen’s favorite instrument nurse, learning which hand to place the instruments in and always providing the doctor with the appropriate tool.

On December 8, 1941, Dr. Van Peenen was late to work; he was never late. In Hawaii, six hours behind Guam by the global time zones, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor had begun. The U.S. was officially at war. The consequences for Guam, a tactical location for the enemy, were going to be swift and terrible.

That’s when the hospital commander decided that all of the worst cases were to be sent to Van Peenen’s operating room, and that Marshall and Van Peenen were not allowed to leave the room. Lunch was brought to them by the commander himself; they ate their sandwiches as he solemnly explained that the Japanese were all over the island and that by tomorrow, they would either be killed or captured.

The next day, Marshall and his compatriots were prisoners of war. Marshall and 19 others were selected to care for the remaining patients, all crammed into a single ward. Later, the Japanese called the 20 outside to face a line of machine guns. This was a firing squad, and Marshall was forced to face his imminent execution. Their captors were laughing and joking while they recited Japanese propaganda to the prisoners.

“The smirks on their faces turned my utter fear into utter hatred,” Marshall said.

Marshall quickly made peace with death and vowed that he would die with honor and not do anything to shame his beloved country. The stress of the machine gun ordeal left Marshall, a man with remarkable memory, unable to remember the following three weeks.

At the hospital, there was no time to relax, because the guards were always bothering the prisoners or mistreating them. A month later, when the hospital prisoners were being moved to [by passenger ship to mainland Japan] the town of Zentsuji, Japan [Hiroshima #1-B], they met up with another group of prisoners that was being held outside the hospital. They told horrible stories to Marshall and the others of beheaded Marines and meager daily rations of one potato a day. At Zentsuji, the men were put to work in the mountains, moving heavy rocks.

Just as the prisoners had gotten used to the schedule of the hard labor in Zentsuji, the prisoners were moved again, this time to Osaka [Records say Hirohata Osaka 12-B, where they were slave laborers for Nippon Steel however he was most likely at Osaka Main Camp #1 Chikko where they were slave laborers for Nippon Express]. Marshall realized that he and the others were “in it for the long haul.” The war was not going to be over soon, and he was sure the prisoners were going to be at the camp for a while. All of the prisoners started forming groups of two or three, for the sake of increasing their chance of survival.

Marshall formed a bond with Alfred Mosher and Albert Schwab. The three vowed to look out for each other. They agreed that if any one of them received special items, like soap or food, that it would be split among them. Another condition was that if one of them got sick, the other two would take care of him.

One day, Marshall realized he was having trouble breathing. There was a fluid filling his lung cavity, partially collapsing the lung. Marshall was terrified because getting sick in the camp meant death. He witnessed several prisoners get sent to the medical hospital, but come back a hollow shell or never return at all.

Marshall didn’t want to be put on the sick list, so he did his best to keep it a secret from the guards. Mosher and Schwab helped him every night to the top shelf, his “bunk,” in the small, cramped room where the prisoners slept. He believes that their help is one of the reasons that he is still alive today.

“They kept telling me, ‘Just breathe, dammit!’” he explained. “At the time it was very difficult for me to breathe, I could only breathe sitting up.”

On June 1, 1945, on a work detail, Marshall heard the loud hum of a dozen mechanical beasts overhead: a group of B-29 Superfortresses. The aircraft began to pummel the camp below with bombs that crackled and breathed death with each monstrous roar, hoping to remove the Japanese presence. The American bombers were unaware that this was a prisoner camp, so the attack lasted a long four hours. The camp was so damaged that the Japanese were forced to relocate the prisoners to Fushiki [Nagoya 10-B, liberated from this camp].

Months later, Marshall, on another work detail, saw all the Japanese guards gathering around a radio [August 15, 1945], listening like their lives depended on it. Within minutes the guards deserted the camp, leaving just the prisoners and one Japanese guard who spoke English. The guard told the prisoners that he would help them as best he could, but getting food would be a big problem.

Japan surrendered shortly after, and Marshall and the others were promptly air-dropped food and cigarettes. They were soon picked up and taken back to Guam for medical examinations September 8, 1945. Marshall had been a prisoner of war for 1,368 days: the entire duration of the war in the Pacific Theater.

When Marshall returned home, he discovered that his father, whom he had not seen for more than four years, had passed away during his captivity. Marshall was heartbroken that he never gave his father a hug, or told him that he loved him.

Marshall had a difficult time adjusting back to normal life during the 90-day rehabilitation that the prisoners received. During his time home, he met Faye Elder through a friend. The two went on several dates, and he knew he wanted her to be his. He proposed right before he left for the U.S. Naval Hospital in Norman, Oklahoma.

There, Marshall was struck with tuberculosis, and had to spend the next two years in numerous hospitals until he was medically discharged from the Navy.

Although he was upset, he figured that now was the perfect time to start tending to his family. Together, the Marshalls had two daughters, Cynthia and Beverly, who enjoyed a close-knit family. The two warmly remember their father, and how he took great care of them.

“My dad has always been my hero,” Cynthia said. “As a little kid, he was always there. Daddy was strong and he was handsome, and he took good care of us.”

Peter Marshall is now the last living prisoner of war who was captured from Guam [not true as of June 2017) during World War II. He resides in Prescott Valley, Arizona, with his daughters, whom now take care of him.

Marshall’s wife, Faye, passed away in 2013; she is buried in National Memorial Cemetery in Cave Creek, Arizona, an hour away from Prescott Valley, and where Marshall plans to be buried when his time comes. Together they will be in good company, alongside veterans, heroes, and those who heard their nation’s call.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Lessons of our 75th Anniversary

American Defenders of Bataan & Corregidor Memorial Society, President’s Message, Ms. Jan Thompson, delivered to annual convention on May 20, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the fall of Bataan, the Bataan Death March and the surrender of Corregidor. It is also the 75th anniversaries of the sinkings of the USS Houston, USS Pope, USS Langley, and USS Perch as well as the capture of a Texas National Guard unit on Java that came to be known as the “Lost Battalion.”

As the years have passed, it can be argued that there is a fear that the sacrifice and the history of the POW experience under Imperial Japan will be forgotten both in the United States and in Japan.

But, the ADBC-MS has undertaken a number of activities and initiatives to prevent this from happening and to try to ensure that the history of our men and women is preserved and honored.

We have worked to provide visual, scholarly and political remembrance of the struggles, sacrifice, and stories of the POWs of Japan.

Maybe no better reflection of the success of our efforts was at last weekend’s Liberty University’s commencement. President Trump took six minutes out of his 30-minute speech to celebrate the life and “grit” of former POW of Japan George Rogers, a founding financial director of the University.

Trump, said to the graduates what we here already know, but we welcome it repeated by a contemporary American president:
If anyone ever had reason to quit, to give in to the bitterness and anger that we all face at some point, to lose hope in god's vision for his life, it was indeed George Rogers. But that's not what he did. He stood up for his country; he stood up for his community. He stood up for his family and he defended civilization against a tide of barbarity, the kind of barbarity we're seeing today and we've been witnessing over the last number of years
Presidential pronouncements aside, the ADBC-MS has worked hard to created and place memorials in Japan at locations of former prison camps. And we are pressing Japan to recognize POW slave labor at their newly established UNESCO World Industrial Heritage sites.

We have contributed funds and prose for the building of these. Our friends in Japan--the POW Research Network—have worked tirelessly and selflessly with us in coordinating the placement and maintenance of these memorials.

Two years ago, we received our first, and so far only public corporate apology to POWs for there slave labor. But it was an important one. It came from Mitsubishi Materials Corporation, which is part of the larger, Mitsubishi Group, Japan’s largest and most important multi-national. Mitsubishi Materials still owns the land where Mitsubishi had four mines that are now closed.

This historic apology was the result of a lot of hard work and political savvy of our longtime friend and advocate, Ms. Kinue Tokudome in Japan.

Words are one thing. Seeing a permanent marker of contrition is another. Thus, this past November, Mitsubishi Materials allowed and paid for the installation of visual reminders of their dark history. Plaques, in English and Japan, were placed at the entrances of their four former mines. These memorials say:
Working conditions for the POWs were exceedingly harsh and left deep mental and physical wounds that the lapse of time would not heal. Reflecting on these tragic past events with the deepest sense of remorse, Mitsubishi Materials offers its heartfelt apologies to all former POWs who were forced to work under appalling conditions in the mines of the former Mitsubishi Mining Company, and reaffirms its unswerving resolve to contribute to the creation of a world in which fundamental human rights and justice are fully guaranteed.

Feeding into this success, are our eight years of organizing and managing the POW trips to Japan.

How many of you have participated in the Japan POW friendship trips? [Hands raised.]

For those who have gone to Japan you have found that these are not vacations—but days filled with meeting Japanese officials and citizens; American diplomats and students, and continuing to tell the POW story. These trips are also an important part of the US-Japan Alliance---where once we were fierce enemies, we have come to respect each other.

The Japan/POW Friendship trips were the brain child of Lester Tenney, who could not understand why such trips were offered to our allies, but not to Americans. He had made it his mission to correct this wrong. And he succeeded. As many of you know, Lester passed away only this past February.

The Friendship trips have been successful in helping people in Japan to understand the bitter experience of the POW—and for many of the participants it has helped them to realize that Japan has been transformed into a democracy and an ally, a very different country from the militaristic Imperial Japan that abused them.

These trips are an important legacy that Lester created.

The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has told us that there will be another trip this year. And officials have noted that their continuation is a sign that the government sees a great value in them.

There are also other initiatives in the United States to remember the POW history.

Those of you who went to White Sands this year in New Mexico saw that it has grown over the past 27 years [since 1990] to more than 7,000 participants who now annually march, run, walk to remember the Bataan Death March.

There are other Bataan Memorial marches around the country, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and South Dakota to remember the sacrifice the POWs of Imperial Japan made for our freedom.

And last year, California approved an initiative to include the history of the POWs of Japan in their State high school curriculum. The ADBC-MS will be working with California educators to ensure that that is curriculum is substantive, truthful, and meaningful.


Much has been accomplished, yet there is much to do.

The stories of the POW experience continue to inspire; they speak to the American spirit of resilience, persistence, and allegiance. We do not give up without a fight.

Most important, these "stories" are not just history. Americans still fight tyranny and we never give in; we do not yield to force, to injustice, to oppression, or to an enemy. This history ties us to our future.

But we all need to do things to continue to tell the POW story—we need to preserve and protect this history. We cannot be passive. We as descendants and historians cannot leave it to others.

We cannot stop telling our story and we must continue to look for and create opportunities for us to tell our history. We must use that same determination and perseverance that kept our men alive through their darkest hours to keep the memory and lessons of their history alive.

Thank you