Thursday, April 09, 2020

April 9 1942 - Never Forget



Today, is the 78th Anniversary of the fall of the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines. Within hours of Japan's December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, Japan's planes descended upon the Philippines knocking out the critical airfields and naval facilities. By mid-December, American soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and whoever signed up, retreated to the Bataan Peninsula or to the fortress island of Corregidor in Manila Bay.

While Singapore, Hong Kong, and Batavia were occupied, the Asiatic Fleet was destroyed, and the Far East Air Force was annihilated, the Am-Fil forces on the Philippines fought on against the Japanese invaders. In February 1942, Japanese subs and aircraft bombed Darwin, Australia and Santa Barbara, California. By March, Am-Fil forces found their supplies and ammunition nearly gone. But they fought on.

After 99 days in battle, with no hope of reinforcement, out of food, medicine, and ammo, Major General Edward P. King Jr. surrendered his troops on Bataan—against General Douglas MacArthur’s orders and on the anniversary of the Gen Robert E Lee's surrender at Appomattox (1865). Thus, approximately 78,000 troops (66,000 Filipinos and 12,000 Americans), the largest contingent of U.S. soldiers ever to surrender, are taken captive by the Japanese.

The men and women on Corregidor and the other fortress island in Manila Bay fought on for another month. Those soldiers and sailors in the outlying provinces hung on a bit longer. By mid-May, all of the Philippines had been surrendered. Although, none of these men in arms were on the Death March, they suffered and died the same in the POW camps on the Philippines and in the hellships to Japan.

The prisoners surrendered on Bataan on April 9th were at once led 65 miles from Mariveles, on the southern end of the Bataan peninsula, up to San Fernando and then another 20 by miles by packed standing in steaming train cars and by foot to Camp O'Donnell on what became known as the “Bataan Death March.” Estimates vary, with 300-600 Americans and 2,000-5,000 Filipinos dying on the infamous March because of the extreme brutality of their captors, who starved, beat, and kicked them along the way; those who became too weak to walk were bayoneted, beheaded, or shot. 

At Camp O'Donnell, the survivors had little water, food or medicine. There the death rate far exceeded the toll from the March. By June, nearly a third of the POWs had died.

After the war, the International Military Tribunal, established by MacArthur, tried Lieutenant General Homma Masaharu, commander of the Japanese invasion forces in the Philippines. He was held responsible for the death march, a war crime, and was executed by firing squad on April 3, 1946.

Efforts were made after the war, to retrieve as many bodies as possible left along this infamous trail. The ghosts of many remain.

NEVER FORGET

Sunday, March 08, 2020

POWs of Japan testify to Congress

click for testimony
Every year, for at the last 10 years the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society has submitted testimony for the record at one of the annual joint House and Senate Veterans Committees hearings for Veterans Service Organization.

On Tuesday, March 3, ADBC-MS testimony was part of the Legislative Presentation of Multiple Veterans Service Organizations (AXPOW, PVA, SVA, GSW, MOAA, FRA, IAVA)..

Jan Thompson, President of the ADBC-MS called on Congress to do the following in this 75th Anniversary of Liberation:
  1. Award, collectively the American POWs of Japan the Congressional Gold Medal.
  2. Instruct the U.S. Department of State to prepare a report for Congress on the history and funding of the “Japan/POW Friendship Program” began in 2010 and how it compares with programs for Allied POWs and Takahashi groups.
  3. Encourage the Government of Japan to continue the “Japan/POW Friendship Program.”
  4. Encourage the Government of Japan to expand its “Japan/POW Friendship Program” into a permanent educational initiative.
  5. Request the Government of Japan to include the history of POW slave labor in the information provided about the sites of Japan’s “Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining” on the UNESCO World Industrial Heritage list.
  6. Work with the Government of Japan to create a memorial at the Port of Moji on Kyushu where most of the POW hellships docked and unloaded their sick and dying human cargo.
Included in the testimony is a Timeline of events during 1945, the 75th Anniversary of the end of WWII.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

REMEMBERING WT2c CARL ELLIS BARNES, PALAWAN MASSACRE



REMEMBERING WT2c CARL ELLIS BARNES, PALAWAN MASSACRE
 ______ 

OF CALIFORNIA
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 

Monday, December 16, 2019 

Mr. COX of California. Madam Speaker, today, I ask my colleagues to pause in memory of 139 soldiers, airmen, Marines, and sailors who perished 75 years ago this month. On December 14, 1944, in the midst of World War II, on the Philippines island of Palawan they were massacred as prisoners of war (POWs). They had just completed building a Japanese airfield that is used today as the Antonio Bautista Air Base, an important anchor of the U.S.-Philippines alliance. 

One of the men murdered, Water Tender 2C Carl Ellis Barnes, hailed from the Central Valley in California. He had arrived in the Philippines from China aboard the Yangtze River gunboat USS Ohau (PR-6) days before Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and the Philippines. During the next five months of combat, the warship operated in and around Manila Bay on inshore patrol. Barnes became a POW on May 6, 1942 when the island fortress of Corregidor was surrendered. 

In August 1942, he was taken to Palawan Island on the Sulu Sea with over 300 POWs, most of whom had survived the infamous Bataan Death March. The POWs were tasked with building an airfield for the Imperial Japanese Army. They endured arduous manual labor while being starved, denied medical care, and routinely and capriciously beaten. By December 1944, only 150 POWs were still held on the island and American forces were beginning to liberate the Philippines. 

At noon on December 14, 1944, the POWs were sent to their recently constructed air raid trenches. Quickly, the Japanese troops doused them with buckets of airplane fuel and set them afire with flaming torches, followed by hand grenades and machine gun fire. Miraculously, 11 men escaped to the sea and were rescued by Filipino guerrillas. 

Thus, today we remember these brave souls who labored and perished so far from home. The airfield they built is one of the sites of our Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the Philippines that helps bind our historic alliance with the Philippines. WT2c Barnes is buried in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, Missouri with most of his fellow POWs from the Palawan Massacre. Never Forgotten.

Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 203 [Page E1595]

---------

Thursday, December 12, 2019

75th Anniversary of the Palawan Massacre and Oryoku Maru Sinking



This coming Saturday marks the 75th Anniversaries of the Palawan Massacre and the sinking of the hellship Oryoku Maru off Subic Bay.

At noon on December 14, 1944, 150 POWs on Palawan Island in the Philippines were herded into their recently constructed air raid trenches. Most had been on the island since the summer of 1942 to build by hand an airfield for the Imperial Japanese Army. Quickly, the Japanese troops doused them with buckets of airplane fuel and set them afire with flaming torches, followed by hand grenades and machine gun fire. Miraculously, eleven men escaped to the sea and were rescued by Filipino guerrillas.

The airfield that the POWs built is used today as the Antonio Bautista Air Base, an important anchor of the U.S.-Philippines alliance. In a letter to Assistant Secretary of State David R. Stillwell, I suggested that the U.S. use this anniversary to memorialize the POWs with our Filipino allies to highlight our deep and historic military ties. I have not heard back.

On the same day, 600 miles north of Palawan, off Subic Bay, US Navy aircraft from the USS Hornet attacked the hellship Oryoku Maru. The day before, December 13, 1944, the ship had left Manila with 1,619 POWs in its cargo holds. Two hundred POWs died in the attack. Survivors swam ashore dodging bullets and sharks to endure a week on an abandoned tennis court in the tropical sun with limited food and water. The ordeal of the surviving POWs continued through a hellship voyage on the Enoura Maru and Brazil Maru from Luzon to Takao Harbor, Formosa (Taiwan). The Enoura Maru upon arriving at Takao on January 9, 1945 was sunk by aircraft again from the USS Hornet

Survivors were eventually consolidated on the Brazil Maru for the voyage from Takao to Moji, Japan. About 600 POWs reached Japan, but many of those died soon after arrival. Most of the remaining POWs were shipped to China via Korea and liberated at Mukden. One of the men who died en route to Korea in April 1945 was the father of the Smothers Brothers, US Army Major Thomas Bolyn Smothers, Jr He was a West Point Graduate and a member of the 45th Infantry Regiment, Philippine Scouts. In the end, barely 400 POW made it liberation.

Thus, today we remember these brave souls who suffered and perished so far from home. The airfield they built is one of the sites of our Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the Philippines that helps bind our historic alliance with the Philippines. Most of the POWs murdered at Palawan are buried in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, Missouri. In Hawaii, there is a memorial stone to the Enoura Maru dead at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific and a memorial to all who endured the hellships stands at Subic Bay in the Philippines. Never Forgotten

Put a virtual flower at the graves of some of the men massacred on Palawan HERE.

Put a virtual flower at the graves of some of the men who died during the Orokyu Maru's multiple ship voyage to Japan HERE.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Pearl Harbor, Midway and the American POWs of Japan

This year is the 78th anniversary of the "date that will live in infamy" -- December 7, 1941.

Few know that Japan bombed not only Pearl Harbor that day, but also the U.S. territories of The Philippine Islands, Wake, Midway, Guam, and Howland Island, as well as Hong Kong, Bangkok, Shanghai, Malaya, and Singapore.

The June 1942 Battle of Midway has been recently in the news as a new film has come out and two of the sunken Japanese aircraft carriers have been found. I have seen the movie and it is not as bad as many have said. It does its job and shows the incredible bravery of the young men who took to the seas and skies to fight the Japanese onslaught. However, it is helpful to know the history, and the dialogue is horrid. Here is a Smithsonian article comparing the various Midway movies,

The film correctly depicts the capture and murder of one American airman. There were actually three, maybe four POWs who were held by the Japan's Imperial Navy from this battle. Three were from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) and executed aboard the Imperial Japanese Navy destroyer Makigumo. After a brutal interrogation, they were bound with ropes, tied to weighted fuel cans, and then thrown overboard to drown. The Makigumo hit a mine off Guadalcanal in 1943 and sank. One POW, Ensign Osmus was from the USS Yorktown and captured by the Arashi. He was thrown overboard, but managed to grab the chain railing. A fire axe was then employed to complete the execution.


The above link to the POWs' "Find a Grave" site
Please visit and add a flower of remembrance

Friday, November 22, 2019

Guaranteeing a rest in peace




Tuesday, November 19, 2019 - 2:00pm
House Committee on Oversight and Reform

The hearing will help inform the public about the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s (DPAA) accounting efforts and allow the Subcommittee to conduct oversight of DPAA’s performance. The hearing will also examine whether DPAA has the necessary resources to carry out its mission, as well as whether it has used these resources effectively since its formation in 2015.

In fiscal year 2019, the DPAA recorded 218 identifications, the highest yearly total reached by the agency or its predecessor organizations, bringing important closure to family and loved ones.

Panel One
Kelly McKeague
Director
Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

Panel Two
Mark Noah
Chief Executive Officer
History Flight

Vincent “B.J.” Lawrence
Washington Office Executive Director
Veterans of Foreign Wars

Jo Anne Shirley
Former Chair
National League of POW/MIA Families