Monday, November 13, 2017

Orphans complete their fathers' journey

Unique to the 9th POW Delegation to Japan, is the presence of two orphans of POWs, Joseph Brown and John Whitehurst who never knew their fathers who were imprisoned in the Philippines and died in the sinking of the Hellship Arisan Maru on October 11, 1944.

While in Japan, both men joined with members of the delegation to speak to students at Temple University in Tokyo on October 5, 2017. Below is a video of the presentation as well as profiles of their fathers. Never forgotten.

Joseph Brown, 75, the youngest son of the late Charles D. Brown lives in Temecula, California. He was born in Manila on March 3, 1942 in the midst of the Japanese invasion of the Philippines. He is a Vietnam veteran with a career in law enforcement who has participated 13 times in the White Sands, New Mexico Bataan Memorial Death March and attended this year’s 75th anniversary ceremonies in the Philippines for the Bataan Death March. He carries with him a bracelet his father crafted for his first birthday while in POW camp on the Philippines.

Charles D. Brown was born June 6, 1903 in Monterey, Mexico while his father was a doctor for the Mexican National Railway. The family returned to Brownsville, Texas where he attended high school and worked in a number of clerical positions before enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1932. Sent to the Philippines, Brown was assigned to the 31st Infantry Regiment, stationed at Fort Santiago with the regimental headquarters in Manila. By 1941, the 25th anniversary of the regiment, he was a Staff Sergeant and a member of the Color Guard.

In April 1937, he married Lolita Penabella, a Spanish citizen whose family were residents of Manila. They had four children with the youngest, Joseph, born three months after the war started. Brown last saw his pregnant wife and three children—Loretta, Charles and Elizabeth—on December 26, 1941. At the war’s start, he was promoted to Warrant Officer and was part of the 31st Infantry’s planned defense of U.S. forces’ withdrawal into the Bataan Peninsula.

On April 9, 1942, Major General Edward King surrendered the peninsula to Japanese forces. This was the start of the 65-mile Bataan Death March of over 75,000 sick and starving American and Filipino POWs up from the tip of Bataan to the train junction at San Fernando. In the words of Colonel Harold W. Glattly, the chief Luzon Force surgeon, the men were “patients rather than prisoners.” This ordeal compounded by the guards withholding water, food, and rest while randomly beating, stabbing, and murdering the men extended the transfer north from days into weeks.

At San Fernando, the survivors received a bowl of rice each and some water, before being jammed standing into unventilated boxcars for a 24-mile journey into the Tarlac Province. From the station, the dazed men walked another 3.5 miles to Camp O’Donnell. Including the men, who died in the boxcars, as many as 650 Americans and 5,000 to 10,000 Filipinos perished on the March. Camp O’Donnell was a half-completed training camp for Philippine Army recruits. Its bamboo and nipa structures had unfinished roofs and unconnected water pipes. No utilities had been installed, and the septic system was only partially complete. Situated in the barren piedmont of the Zambales Mountains, the camp was surrounded by a heavy growth of mosquito-infested cogon grass. Here the over 10,000 American and 50,000 Filipino survivors of the Death March endured days of burning sun without adequate food, water, or medicine. It is estimated that 1,550 Americans and 22,000 Filipinos died at Camp O’Donnell, the overwhelming majority within the first eight weeks.

After most Americans were moved from Camp O’Donnell to Camp Cabanatuan in June 1942, Brown he and others did agricultural slave labor. On his son’s first birthday, he crafted him a bracelet from an aluminum scrap that he inscribed, “J.W. Brown, Daddy 3-3-43.” He gave it to Fr. Theodore (Padre Doro) Buttenbruch SVD, the first priest of The Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, who was working with his wife to smuggle money, tobacco, and medicine to the POWs. The bracelet was successfully delivered. Fr. Buttenbruch, however, was eventually caught by the Kempeitai and executed.

On October 11, 1944, he and 1,781 other prisoners were loaded into two holds of the Mitsui-built “Hell ship” Arisan Maru. To avoid air raids, the freighter first sailed south from Manila to Palawan and then back. The Arisan Maru left Manila October 21 in convoy of seven ships for Formosa and Japan. On October 24th, some 225 miles from Formosa in the Bashi Strait, the convoy was attacked by three submarine wolfpacks. It is believed that the Arisan Maru was torpedoed and sunk by either the USS Shark II (SS-314) or the USS Snook (SS-279). The Japanese guards cut the rope ladders to the holds. The abandoned men eventually found their way to the deck only to drown in the choppy, cold water. Sailors from nearby Japanese destroyers clubbed and machine-gunned American survivors in the water and the ships deliberately pulled away from the men struggling to reach them. In all, there were 1,773 POW casualties. A Japanese freighter later picked up four survivors. Another five managed to find an abandoned lifeboat, a sail, a water barrel, and a box of hardtack. Miraculously, they navigated to China and Chinese guerrillas who brought them to American forces in Kunming.

Brown’s wife and four children were considered Spanish citizens, and thus, never interned during the war. They survived the Battle of Manila and sailed to the United States in September 1945 aboard the USS Admiral E. W. Eberle (AP-123) to Tacoma, Washington. Following Charles Brown’s wishes, the family went to Horton, Kansas to live with his sister Bessie.

A memorial marker to Warrant Officer Brown is in the Miramar National Cemetery, San Diego California. His name is also engraved upon the Walls of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery.

Philippines POW#: 1-7548
Congressman: Duncan Hunter (R-CA 50th)

John Collin Whitehurst, 76, the only child of the late Collin B. Whitehurst, was born October 28, 1940 in Manila. His mother Rose and he were evacuated from the Philippines with other military families on May 5, 1941 and he has lived mostly in Texas since 1942. He worked as an accountant before finding his true passion in social work. He has attended American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society conventions since 2002 and is currently on their Board of Directors. He has returned to the Philippines twice, in 2002 and in January 2006 when he attended the dedication of the Hell Ship Memorial at Subic Bay.

Collin B. Whitehurst, Jr. was born on February 3, 1914 in Richmond, Virginia. He grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio graduating from Hughes High School in 1932. He attended the University of Cincinnati, but in 1934 received an appointment to the U. S. Military Academy at West Point. At the Academy, he was in the Chapel Choir all four years, the Glee Club for one year, Manager of Goat Football for two years, and a Pistol Marksman. He enjoyed West Point and graduated 300 out of 301. His first assignment after graduation in 1938 was to Fort Thomas, Kentucky, with Headquarters Company, 10th Infantry Regiment. In December 1939, he married an officer’s daughter, Rose Eva Knuebel, daughter of Colonel and Mrs. John H. Knuebel. They sailed for the Philippines in June 1940.

First stationed at Fort McKinley near Manila, he was assigned to 45th Infantry Regiment, Philippine Scouts. At the end of August 1941, Whitehurst was sent temporarily to the 81st Infantry Regiment, Philippine Army, as an instructor on Bohol, an island province of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas. Later that fall, he was with the Ninth Military District on Leyte supervising inter-island shipping. Promoted to Major on December 19, 1941, after the war began, he was assigned to the staff of the Commanding General of the Visayan-Mindanao Force, Major General William F. Sharp on Mindanao.

General Sharp, with great reluctance and under the threat of a massacre of all the POWs on Corregidor, surrendered his forces on Mindanao on May 10, 1942. Upon surrender, Whitehurst entrusted his West Point ring to Rev. J. E. Haggerty who was the Headquarters Chaplain. Haggerty reverted to civilian status and served as chaplain to recognized guerilla forces under the legendary Colonel Wendell W. Fertig. Haggerty returned the ring to Whitehurst’s widow after the war.

Whitehurst and the POWs on Mindanao were first kept at Camp Casisang south of Malaybalay and then to the Davao Penal Colony #502 (DAPECOL). During the 21 months Whitehurst was imprisoned at Davao, he became close friends with the acting Episcopalian chaplain, Capt. John J. Morrett (d. 2011). Together, they organized and trained a choir for religious services that helped lift the spirits of the camp.

In June 1944, some 1,200 of the Davao Penal Colony POWs were moved to Manila for dispersal to other work sites on Luzon or in Japan. Whitehurst was briefly held at Bilibid Prison and then at Cabanatuan where he was again doing agriculture labor. On October 11, 1944, he and 1,781 prisoners were loaded into two holds of the Mitsui-built “Hell ship” Arisan Maru. The holds, with one holding some coal, were so small that the men first had to stand. Room was created by the deaths of men from heat and disease. To avoid air raids, the freighter first sailed south from Manila to Palawan and then back. The Arisan Maru finally left Manila on October 21 in a convoy of seven ships for Formosa and Japan. On October 24, some 225 miles from Formosa in the Bashi Strait the convoy was attacked by three American submarine wolfpacks. It is believed that the Arisan Maru was torpedoed and sunk possibly by either the USS Shark II (SS-314) or the USS Snook (SS-279). The Japanese guards cut the rope ladders to the holds. The abandoned men eventually found their way to the deck only to drown in the choppy, cold water. Sailors from nearby Japanese destroyers clubbed and machine-gunned American survivors in the water and the ships deliberately pulled away from the men struggling to reach them. In all, there were 1,773 POW casualties and only nine survivors.

Following his liberation, Major General William F. Sharp, commander, Visayan-Mindanao Force, wrote to Whitehurst’s parents: “Your son was a fine, loyal officer who did excellent work while serving with my Command. He was always cheerful and willing; he made a lasting impression on all with whom he came into contact. Collin’s spirit never wavered during the long months of his imprisonment. We few still living who knew him cherish his memory.”

The Whitehurst family on October 25, 2004, 60 years and a day after Major Collin Whitehurst’s death on the Arisan Maru, dedicated a memorial marker in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery commemorating his life and service. His name is also engraved on the Walls of the Missing in the Manila American Cemetery.

Philippines POW#: 2-0235s
Congressman: Joaquin Castro (D-TX 20th) 

9th American POW Delegation to Japan

Chamberlain featured in this book
click to order
From September 30 - October 11, 2017,  nine Americans journeyed to Japan to recover their past. They were part of the 9th delegation of Americans who were POWs or families of POWs who were guests of the Japanese government. In 2009, the Obama Administration persuaded the Japanese to initiate a program of reconciliation with the American POWs of Japan, one of the many groups of people who were dependent upon Imperial Japan's care and instead received unimaginable abuse. Secretary of State Clinton wanted to help a unique cohort of American veterans who had been ignored by previous administrations as well as present the Japanese with a template toward reconciliation. The first trip was in October 2010.

Whereas the first trip was composed entirely of POWs, their wives, and caregivers, this trip included only one former POW.  His profile is below. His biggest wish was to see the mine where he suffered so much as a slave laborer. It is said that his eyes welled with tears when Mitsubishi Materials company officials escorted him to the mine's entrance and apologized.

American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society works with the U.S. State Department and Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Henry Tilden Chamberlain, 95, is a resident of Edmunds, Washington. His daughter Rebecca Chamberlain, 56, who accompanied him to Japan was born in Okinawa, Japan at the Kadena Air Base. She is a real estate agent in the Seattle region.

Mr. Chamberlain was born on the family’s kitchen table June 6, 1922 in Morse Bluff, Nebraska. An only child, he moved with his mother after his parents’ divorce to Omaha, Nebraska. Needing to earn a living, he dropped out of high school to work as a messenger for Paxton & Gallagher Wholesale Grocery in Omaha. On his 18th birthday (June 6, 1940), he enlisted in the United States Army at Fort Crook, outside Omaha. He received his basic training at McChord Field near Tacoma, Washington and Fort George Wright in Spokane, Washington. His surgical school training was at Fort Lewis, the precursor of today’s Madigan Army Medical Center.

Chamberlain was sent to Philippines from San Francisco aboard the USAT Willard A. Holbrook in October 1941. He first served at the hospital at Fort William McKinley, but was soon stationed at what was considered, if war were to break out, a neutral medical facility, Sternberg General Hospital in Manila as a surgical technician. There was a mistaken belief that the Japanese would not bomb a hospital. After the Japanese attacked the Philippines on December 8, 1941, Sternberg was shelled and evacuated in three phases starting on December 22nd. One group went to Bataan General Hospital #1 and another with patients to Corregidor Island. Chamberlain was with the third group that went by boat to Bataan General Hospital #2 along the Real River near Cabcaben and commanded by Col James O. Gillepsie and surgeon Lt Col Jack Schwartz. It was less a “hospital” than a sprawling outdoor facility with a few tents and natural canopies of bamboo, mahogany, and acacia for shade and cover.

Although under constant shelling and fast running out to food and medicines, Hospital #2’s patients, including wounded Japanese, swelled to thousands, possibly as many as 20,000. According to a U.S. Army study, in the last weeks of the Battle of Bataan most of the new admittees suffered from malaria, dysentery, malnutrition, and exhaustion. There were 150 non-battle-related deaths per day due to disease and malnutrition.

Upon surrender, the Japanese looted the Hospital of food and medicine and the patients of their personal possessions. An American woman volunteer at the Hospital too ill to be evacuated was gang-raped. The Japanese soon encircled the Hospital with artillery aimed at Corregidor making the site a target for Corregidor’s great guns. Filipino patients were immediately forced leave, which resulted in their becoming part of the Bataan Death March. Most of these men soon died.

Remaining patients and staff were removed toward the end of May north to Cabanatuan #1. Chamberlain, sick with malaria and dysentery, remembers little of this transfer that included a truck ride to Bilibid Prison, a suffocating cattle car train trip to Cabanatuan City, and a delirious march to the Camp. There he was a medic at Zero Ward, where men were sent to die. Without medicines or food, there was little he could do. When his frustration met its limit, his momentary defiance was met by a savage beating and deep cigar burns. He volunteered for the diphtheria ward as he had immunity from childhood and it was where the Japanese guards did not venture.

After, over two years at the Cabanatuan POW camps assisting the medical team as well as doing subsistence farming, he was among 1,100 POWs on October 1, 1944 loaded atop coal or horse feces in the holds of the “Hell ship” Hokusen Maru (called the Benjo “toilet” Maru by the POWs) in Manila. It turned into one of the longest “Hell ship” voyages of the war. The voyage to Moiji, Japan via Hong Kong and Formosa was marked American submarine and air attacks. As a substitute for water that was rarely sent down the hold, Chamberlain would mop up the condensation on the wall of the hull. The heat and filth in the hold paired with beriberi, dysentery, bronchitis, pneumonia and starvation to accelerate the death rate. Funeral services were not allowed for the dead who were sent overboard.

On Formosa, Chamberlain was among the POWs taken in early November to the Toroku POW Camp (today the site of Gouba Elementary School, Touliou) to recover from the trip's ordeal while doing subsistence gardening and work at a sugar mill. In late January, the survivors departed for Japan aboard the Enoshima Maru. At the Port of Moji, he was sent north to Hosokura near Sendai to mine lead and zinc at Mitsubishi Mining’s Sendai #3-B POW camp. Today, the site is the Hosokura Mine Park and displays a plaque by Mitsubishi Materials Corporation memorializing the POWs who were slave laborers at the mine.

Rescued on September 12th, he was taken to a hospital ship at Sendai and then on to the Philippines and to Madigan Army Hospital in Tacoma, Washington. He fondly remembers a black WAC who devoted herself to taking extra care of the POWs on her ward. Altogether he had over a year of covalence to recover from malaria, dysentery, and PTSD. However, he found life in the U.S., free from strict expectations, difficult. As a result, he stayed in the Army, eventually transferring to the new U.S. Air Force. Stationed at Fort George Wright, he met Dorothy, a surgical technician with the Women's Army Corps (WAC), who he married November 14, 1947. Married for 60 years, they lived around the world, including a tour in Okinawa where their youngest of seven children was born. Dorothy passed away in 2007.

After 28 years in the Air Force, Chamberlain retired as a Senior master sergeant (SMSgt), with 100% disability due to the conditions he suffered as a POW. He returned to western Washington where he finished his B.A. degree through the University of Maryland, College of Special and Continuation Studies, which the first university to send faculty overseas to educate active-duty military personnel. For 15 years, he was the National Service Officer for the American Ex-POW organization (AXPOW).

Philippines POW#: 1-07704
Japan POW#: 999

Congressman: daughter, Rick Larsen (D-WA),
Congressman: father, Pramila Jayapal (D-WA),

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Veterans Day - Lest we forget

Memorial at Cabanatuan

Support S Res 138 and H Res 261 to remember the 
75th Anniversary of the Bataan Death March
Call your Senator and Congressman

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Gold Medal Ceremony for Filipino Vets of WWII

Washington, DC, October 25, 2017. ADBC-MS former board member Caroline Burkhart represented at the ceremony on the dias the hundreds of American officers who commanded the Filipino troops. They are included in this medal and she accepted a medal on behalf of her father, Lt. Thomas Burkhart who was with the 45th Infantry, Philippine Scouts.

House Speaker Paul Ryan's (R-WI) gave remarks prior to the presentation of the medal, here they are as prepared for delivery:

"Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. I am honored to welcome all of you to the United States Capitol. The Congressional Gold Medal is one of our oldest traditions. It is the highest civilian honor this body can bestow. Today, pursuant to S. 1555, we award this Medal to the Filipino veterans of World War II.

"This is a day that is long, long overdue. Everyone knows about Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. Perhaps lesser known is that, within hours, Japanese forces also invaded the Philippines. Under the command of General MacArthur, American and Filipino forces fought side-by-side to stave off the invasion.

"All told, 250,000 Filipinos answered President Roosevelt’s call to duty. Most had no formal training. Many had never even picked up a weapon. But they risked—and in the case of many—gave their lives fighting under our stars and stripes. They battled not only the enemy, but starvation and malnutrition. But they never lost sight of the cause. And they never accepted defeat.

"In the midst of the struggle, President Roosevelt addressed the Filipino people. He said, 'The great day of your liberation will come, as surely as there is a God in heaven.' And sure enough, that day came. But only due to the incredible valor and sacrifice of the Filipino resistance movement. And only at a heavy cost. More than 10,000 Americans and nearly one million Filipinos, mostly civilians, died in the Philippines.

"We are blessed to be joined today not only by some of these veterans, but also their families. Thank you for being here. You are an integral part of this legacy. And without you, we know this day would not have been possible.

"A longtime dear friend of mine, my former deputy chief of staff, Joyce Meyer, tells the story of her great grandfather, Andres Arribe. He was one of many Filipinos recruited from Manila during the war. He was a sharp shooter. He was at Leyte when General MacArthur was there. But like too many others, he was stricken with tuberculosis and passed away shortly after the war.

"But his granddaughter used his veterans benefits to help pay for a college education, and she became the first in her family to move to America. And today, her daughter—this soldier’s great-granddaughter—works for the President of the United States.

"So you see, this is not simply a feel-good story of delayed recognition. We are here to immortalize the legacy of great liberators, who have paved the way for generations to follow.

"Let this ceremony serve to ensure that those who fought for freedom are never forgotten, and always remembered.

Friday, September 15, 2017

2017 MIA/POW Recognition Day

Order Poster

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.”