Sunday, November 22, 2015

The struggle to forgive

'I had resentment for 10 to 15 years,' former POW Leland Chandler (seated left) said at the event at TUJ in Tokyo. 'My wife and I, when we would both go to church, I would hear the minister say, 'Forgive 'em, forgive your neighbor, forgive!' I looked that preacher in the eye and I thought, 'You don't know what you're talking about.'

On their return to Japan, former U.S. POWs recount struggles to forgive and forget
BY SARAI FLORES, The Japan Times, November 18, 2015

There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time for war and a time for peace. — Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Three-quarters of a century have passed since William Chittenden found himself aboard a U.S. Navy ship sailing for China, a freshly enlisted marine of 19 years old in a time of war of the most extreme and brutal kind.

This young man would be thrust into adulthood in the cruelest of ways — serving in the midst of a global conflict that would cut short more than 60 million lives and see more than 140,000 held in prisoner-of-war camps throughout Japan’s nascent empire.

Speaking at a time of peace to an audience of mostly expats in Tokyo, Chittenden, now 95, demonstrated an alarmingly keen memory as he delivered a message of forgiveness and reconciliation in the country where he had once spent years as a prisoner of war.

“I’ve never carried any resentment,” Chittenden said. “I’m a great believer that the little people — and by the little people I mean the people not in charge, the regular population of the Japanese — are very friendly and very good people. Japan had bad leadership and that’s all changed, that’s all history.”

Every year [since 2010] Japan’s Foreign Ministry invites a group of American former POWs to spend a week in Japan and speak about their experiences during World War II [see HERE for the profiles of this year's group]. Last year’s talk at Temple University Japan had an underlying theme of the horrors of their bitter fight for survival in the POW camps in the 1940s. This year, much of the talk among the nine visitors was of forgiveness.

Chittenden, in particular, spoke of his amazement at how far Japan has come since the end of the war.

“There are several things that have struck me: one, the courtesy of Japanese people — they’re a charming population,” he said. “I’m amazed at the great architecture I see in the country, from their bridges to their buildings. I would just like to say I appreciate the opportunity to return to Japan as I have this week, and it’s been an education to me.”

When Chittenden enlisted as a naive teenager in 1939, he probably did not consider the possibility that his decision would land him in a POW camp along with 1,200 U.S. military and civilians in Woo Sung, China, in February 1942. He would go on to labor in a total of five POW camps during his 3½ years in captivity.

In March 1940, Chittenden’s journey began aboard the USS Henderson, sailing for Peking, where he had been assigned to protect the U.S. Embassy. On Dec. 8, 1941, just after the Pearl Harbor attack dragged the U.S. into the war, the Japanese overran the embassy and took Chittenden and 140 other marines prisoner, herding them aboard freight cars for a four-day journey to the Woo Sung POW camp near Shanghai.

Chittenden and 1,200 other POWs labored at Woo Sung until December 1942, when they were moved to the nearby Kiangwan camp. In August 1943 the Japanese put a group of men from the camp on a boat to Kawasaki. Chittenden was among the group that endured that harsh four-day journey across the East China Sea.

Chittenden worked at a steel mill in Kawasaki for two years [ POW Camp Tokyo 5-D Kawasaki, which was across from the main gate of a steel mill owned by Nippon Steel Tube & Mining Company (Nippon Kokan, today’s JFE Engineering Corporation)], unloading cargo from freight ships, until mid-April 1945, when U.S. B-29 bombers leveled whole areas of the city.

“I was in a bomb shelter across the street from our POW barracks. It was built under a series of railroad tracks,” recalled Chittenden. “We had a four-hour incendiary night that night. . . . When we went back to our barracks the next morning, we saw that the whole town had been burned to the ground.”

Chittenden and 500 surviving prisoners were then moved to Kobe aboard one of the notorious “hell ships.” In June 1945 Chittenden was moved to yet another POW camp, in Niigata, where he worked as a stevedore until the Japanese surrender on Aug. 14. Weeks later, Chittenden was flown back home, finally arriving in the U.S. as a free man on Sept. 12.

“My thoughts were, ‘Thank God I lived through it,’ ” said Chittenden, “because there were many times when I didn’t know that I would, because every man in the camp had beriberi. We had practically no medicine, we were all starving and we were hungry. My normal weight was 150 pounds (68 kg) and I weighed about 100 pounds when the war was over. And that was true of everybody — everybody lost weight, everybody had beriberi and pellagra and all these diseases.”

Chittenden enrolled at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and graduated in 1949. He went on to work in the men’s clothing department at a Sears store until 1989, got married and had three children.

Fifty years after his liberation, Chittenden published a memoir about his wartime experiences. In the years following his release, he used this writing as a coping mechanism, and Chittenden feels it helped him come to terms with his ordeal while he was still a young man. [ From China Marine to JAP POW: My 1,346 Day Journey Through Hell.]

Sitting a few feet away from Chittenden at the talk in Tokyo was 92-year-old Leland Chandler, another former U.S. POW who, unlike Chittenden, needed a number of years to recover from his horrific experiences in the war.

“When I arrived back in the United States, I was so happy to be back that at that particular time, I did not talk about my experiences very much,” explained Chandler. “Once in a while I would say something, but most of the time it took me several months. With the exception of my immediate family, I did not feel comfortable talking to strangers about it, so I learned how to keep my mouth shut.”

Chandler served with the 60th Artillery anti-aircraft regiment on Corregidor Island in the Philippines. After U.S. forces on the island surrendered to the Japanese in April 1942, Chandler spent his first six months as a POW at Camp Cabanatuan. After that, Chandler and nearly 1,500 American POWs were sent to Japan aboard the Nagata Maru hell ship. More than 200 men perished during the journey. On his arrival in Osaka, Chandler began working as a slave laborer at a steel mill [for Yodogawa Tekkojo, today’s Yodokawa Steel Works, Ltd.] at the Osaka 3-D Yodogawa POW Camp], where says he had to fight to survive.

“People always asked me, why did I survive and how did I survive? And I always said, ‘I’m going to live long enough to come home and get some back tail.'”

Chandler’s next stop was the Oeyama POW camp, where he worked as a stevedore for 10 months at Miyazu Harbor until the end of the war. Several years after returning to the U.S., Chandler married, and he worked as a fire chief until his retirement in 1974.

“I had resentment for 10 to 15 years,” Chandler said. “My wife and I, when we would both go to church, I would hear the minister say, ‘Forgive ‘em, forgive your neighbor, forgive!’ I looked that preacher in the eye and I thought, ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about.’

“About a week later at church, the preacher was talking about ‘forgive.’ I got up in front of the entire congregation, and I said, ‘I forgive all the Japanese people. I will treat them equally, there is no difference between us, all in the past has been forgotten,” said Chandler. “I have felt better to this day and I won’t go back.”

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Veterans Day Justice Elusive

On Veterans Day, One World War II POW Is Still Seeking Justice

by Dr. Lester Tenney, past National Commander of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor

first published on Veterans Day, November 11, 2015 on the National Interest

For seventy years I dealt with my PTSD by looking forward, or as I say, “for the next carabao.” This is how I learned to survive the Bataan Death March and over three years of brutal captivity on the Philippines and Japan. It is a lesson I like to share.

After the surrender of Bataan to the Japanese in April 1942, 70,000 American and Filipino troops began a sixty-five-mile forced march up the Bataan Peninsula. We walked in the tropical heat with no food, little water and rare relief. I bear a shoulder wound from a botched beheading.

From time to time, we passed carabao, the water buffalo that is the national animal of the Philippines, trying to keep cool in swamps and rice paddies. I knew that once I saw one carabao, there would be another one up the road. If I could just make it to the next carabao and then the next, I would make it to the end.

I made it through the March and through the ordeals of the next three-and-a-half years. But we surviving POWs are still looking for the last carabao.

click to order
Seven years ago, on Veterans Day 2008, I found the next one. I had just completed laying the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor’s last memorial wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. As I started to leave, my cell phone rang. It was Japan’s ambassador to the United States, Ichiro Fujisaki. He asked to see me.

For decades, I had harbored anger and resentment toward both the Japanese who tortured me and the American government that refused me justice. The Army prohibited me from talking about the horrors I endured, and the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty barred me from seeking redress for my slave labor. Multimillion-dollar lobbying campaigns by Japan and a White House intent on protecting its Japanese ally stymied all Congressional efforts to help the POWs.

It is hard to explain my excitement at the call. Never before had any Japanese official been willing to meet with a former POW. My wife and I took a taxi directly from the cemetery to the ambassador’s residence.

Ambassador Fujisaki met us at the door. In an extraordinary gesture, Mrs. Fujisaki met us with a bow and extended both her hands. She then led us on a tour of her home. She stayed with her husband to listen. A Washington “Japan hand” told me not to smile. That was advice I ignored.

I was not there to negotiate. I was there to tell my story, to share the pain of the Death March, the Hellship and the Mitsui coal mine; to describe the torture, mistreatment and starvation; and to explain why 40 percent of the nearly 28,000 Americans who were POWs of Japan did not return home. I wanted to know why the Japanese government did not include Americans in their $14 million-plus outreach programs for hundreds of British, Australian and Dutch former POWs and their families.

Ambassador Fujisaki listened. He heard that, even for decades after the war, we American POWs had been denied our dignity and humanity. But Red Cross boxes could not be delivered or medicines administered to the dead. Japan could not undo its lobbying campaign or retrieve the $12 million it had paid to Washington lobbyists. But he wanted to know how we could move beyond this and forward together to reach the next “carabao.”

To me, it was simple: an official government apology for all the POWs. For the survivors, a chance to participate in Japan’s POW visitation program. And for all the POWs who slaved at the mines, docks and factories of over sixty well-known corporations, apologies from those companies to restore a measure of dignity.

For the first time, I had been heard.

The next month, Ambassador Fujisaki wrote me that the Government of Japan offered its apology to “those who have undergone tragic experiences in the Bataan Peninsula and Corregidor Island in the Philippines.” By February 2009, a Cabinet Decision [Japanese] confirmed the statement, saying that the government extended “a heartfelt apology for our country having caused tremendous damage and suffering to many people, including prisoners of wars, those who have undergone tragic experiences in the Bataan Peninsula, Corregidor Island, in the Philippines, and other places.” This inclusive statement for all the POWs of Japan is one of only four official, Cabinet-approved apologies for any of Imperial Japan’s excessives and aggression.

In April 2009, my friend Ambassador Fujisaki accepted my invitation to repeat this apology before my fellow POWs at the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor’s last convention in San Antonio, Texas. Not all were ready to let go of their anger, but everyone admired his courage.

That fall, the new Obama administration built on this progress. With the Japanese government, they established a program for former POWs to visit Japan and their former POW camps. I led the first group of seven in September 2010, where we received an apology directly from the foreign minister. The seventh delegation will travel to Japan next month.

My last carabao is elusive. It is an apology from the Mitsui Corporation for forcing me into a dangerous coal mine and allowing their employees to beat me. Baron Mitsui often motored into my camp [Fukuoka #17 Omuta] to examine his Western charges in the primitive, if not primal, confines of his facility. Today, this mine is an UNESCO World Industrial Heritage site. There is no mention of the mine’s history of slave labor.

I hope I can still make it to this last one. On this Veterans Day, my friend Congressman Mike Honda from California has arranged for me to have breakfast at the White House. He wants me to tell the President about my carabao and to not forget World War II vets like me.

Dr. Lester Tenney was a member of the 192nd Tank Battalion on Bataan, The Philippines.The 192nd was deployed to the Philippines on October 27 and arrived on November 20, 1941. Tenney was part of American defensive efforts to hold the islands, but he was taken captive on April 9, 1942. As Japanese prisoners, he took part in the infamous Bataan Death March. Liberated in September of 1945, Tenney went to the University of Southern California where he received his BA, MA and PhD. He became a professor of finance and insurance at Arizona State University. After he retired as a professor emeritus, Tenney wrote his memoir My Hitch in Hell, about his experiences as a POW under the Japanese.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Sixth American POW Delegation to Japan

The following are profiles of the nine former POWs of Japan visiting Japan October 11-19, 2015 as guests of the Japanese government. They will hold an open meeting on October 14th.

All the men are in their 90s. One was captured in a hospital on Java after his U.S. Army Air Corps B-17 squadron evacuated in March 1942. Another fought on Corregidor AND the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in Korea. Four are “China Marines.” Another, a survivor of the Bataan Death March, was Rev. Jerry Falwell’s treasurer and has an award named after him at Liberty University. Three were slave laborers at POW camps that were factories and mines that are now part of Japan's new UNESCO World Industrial Heritage sites.

DIALOGUE WITH FORMER US PRISONERS OF WAR IN JAPAN 2015. 10/14, 6:30pm, Tokyo, Japan. Sponsor: Temple University. Speakers: Nine former US POWs - Leland Chandler, William Howard Chittenden, Carl Dyer, Arthur Gruenberg, George Hirschkamp, George Rogers, Jack Warner, Clifford Warren, Joseph Demott; Moderator: Robert Dujarric, Director, Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies (ICAS), Temple University.

Initial Press Coverage by AP.

LELAND CHANDLER, 92, lives in Galesburg, Illinois. A farm boy from Table Grove, Illinois, he enlisted in the U.S. Army on February 4, 1941. He was 18. On April 1st , he boarded the USAT Republic at San Francisco with 2,200 other soldiers headed for Manila. Arriving on April 22nd, he was assigned to the 60th Coast Artillery at Fort Mills on Corregidor Island at the entrance to Manila Bay. There he was a member of “H” or “Harford Battery” on Herring Field, Middleside helping man 3-inch anti-aircraft guns under the command of Capt. Warren Starr. Starting on December 8th (December 7th in Hawaii), with the Japanese invasion, Corregidor was bombed four to five times a day during the six-month long siege. The Americans surrendered on May 6, 1942. Capt. Starr recorded that his “battery fired about 875 rounds of 3-inch ammunition, and obtained observed hits on 14 planes.” Like most of the 12,000 men on Corregidor, Chandler was crowded into a small open area, the 92nd Garage, to wait nearly three weeks in the tropical sun with little food or water to be sent by boat to Manila. The men were then made to wade ashore before being paraded six miles down Dewey Boulevard on a “Victory March" to the old Spanish-built prison of Bilibid. Within a few days they were moved by train and foot to the squalid Cabanatuan POW Camp. On November 7, 1942, Mr. Chandler and over 1,400 American POWs were transferred to Japan via Formosa by the Hellship Nagato Maru. Initially, Mr. Chandler was a slave laborer for Yodogawa Tekkojo (today’s Yodokawa Steel Works, Ltd.) at the Osaka 3-D Yodogawa POW Camp He was a steel cutter in the steel mill working 12 to 15 hours each day on only two small bowls of rice a day. He was transferred in mid-May 1945 to Osaka 3-B Oeyama POW Camp where he toiled as a stevedore for Nippon Yakin Kogyo (today’s Nippon Yakin Kogyo Co., Ltd. or NYK) at Miyazu Harbor until the end of the war. After the Japanese guards disappeared and barrels of food descended from new B-29s, the prisoners decided to commandeer a Japanese train to Yokohama. There the POWs were deloused and fed and put on a ship to the Philippines and then back to San Francisco. The 5’11” Chandler weighed 185 pounds when captured, but only 85 pounds when liberated. He recalls “I made up my mind I was going to live, thank the good Lord,” and when “I broke my arm when a load of steel fell on it, I had another prisoner set it and I kept working. If you didn’t work you didn’t eat.” He spent seven months recuperating in hospitals before being discharged on April 7, 1946, at Fort Sheridan, Illinois. The next day he was hired by the Rock Island Arsenal and assigned to the Moline Airport (today’s Quad City International Airport) to provide fire protection for Army medical evacuations. After this service was discontinued, he joined the University of Illinois fire department. Two years later he joined the fire department at Chanute Air Force Base (decommissioned in 1993). He retired as Fire Chief from Chanute in 1974. For many years, Chandler and his wife enjoyed travel and RV camping. He likes woodworking and tinkering with projects in the shop/garage. He volunteers with the Care Committee at Church. He runs the CD player and sound system for the nursing home chapel services by his wife. He has been married to Ruth Chandler for 66 years.
POW# 389
Philippines POW# 1-10197

WILLIAM HOWARD CHITTENDEN, 95, resides in Wheaton, Illinois. Mr. Chittenden grew up in Chillicothe, Missouri. He enlisted in United States Marine Corps in1939 and started his basic training on October 30, 1939 at Twentynine Palms, San Diego. He was sent to China on May 5, 1940 aboard the USS Henderson (AP-1) with the 4th Regiment of the United States Marine Corp—also known as the China Marines—to be a guard at the U.S. Embassy in Peking (Beijing). Chittenden was captured with the 203 other Embassy Marine guards on December 8, 1941. He was first sent with all that were now called the North China Marines to Tientsin, and then on to the Woosung POW Camp outside Shanghai. In December 1942, he was moved to Kiangwan POW Camp, another suburb of Shanghai. There the POWs repaired roads and built a huge mountain for a military firing range that they referred to as Mt Fuji. On August 20, 1943, he was transferred from Kiangwan in Shanghai to Japan with 524 POWs to Osaka. He was taken to the POW Camp Tokyo 5-D Kawasaki, which was across from the main gate of a steel mill owned by Nippon Steel Tube & Mining Company (Nippon Kokan, today’s JFE Engineering Corporation). In this primitive and hazardous facility, he worked as a lathe operator and grinder operator. In June 1945, following the American bombings of the Kawasaki area, the POWs were moved to Niigata. Chittenden found himself at POW Camp Tokyo 5-B Niigata as a slave laborer loading and unloading cargo for Niigata Sea and Land Transportation Company or Niigata Kairiku Unso (today’s Rinko Corporation) until the end of the war. The camp Commandant, Lt. Tetsutaro Kato, was a particularly sadistic overseer who personally executed a POW (Frank Spear who is in a famous picture of three men on the Bataan Death March). Although sentenced to death at the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, he was released with time served in 1952. Kato wrote I Want To Be A Shellfish [Watashi wa Kai ni Naritai] a novel (and two films) dramatizing and justifying his wartime experiences.  He was liberated on September 4, 1945, and put on a train to Yokohama. He was flown across the Pacific to Oakland, California arriving September 12th. Mr. Chittendan was discharged from the Marines Corps on February 16, 1946, as a Platoon Sergeant. He used the GI Bill to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing in 1949, from the University of Notre Dame and where he met his wife, Peggy, who was a student at the neighboring St. Mary’s. He went to work after graduation at the national headquarters of Sears, Roebuck & Company in downtown Chicago. He was quality assurance manager for the company until he retired in 1980. In retirement, he wrote and published his autobiography, From China Marine to JAP POW: My 1,346 Day Journey Through Hell. He enjoys travel, golf, tennis, scuba diving, and spending time with his family. Mr. Chittenden, a widower, was married for 59 years and had three children, two sons and a daughter
POW# 233

JOSEPH DEMOTT, 97, lives in Lititz, Pennsylvania. He grew up in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on August 29, 1939 at Chanute Field in Rantoul, Illinois. He trained as a radio operator with the 10th Air Force, 7th Bombardment Group 22nd Squadron. Mr. DeMott was part of the 22nd Squadron that flew on the Dec 17-18, 1941 from Hamilton Field, California to Hickam Field, Hawaii. As part of Major Kenneth Hobson’s B-17 crew, he helped pioneer the “Pacific route” from Hawaii on January 2, 1942 down through the South Pacific to Australia. Form there, they went to Malang, Java to join the rest of the 22nd on January 14th to reinforce Allied forces in the Netherlands East Indies. On the 15th, the ABDACOM (Australian British Dutch American Command) was formed with the mission to defend the Malay Barrier, which was defined as a line connecting the Malay Peninsula-Sumatra-Java-North Australia. On February 3rd, during a mission over Balikpapan (today’s Jakarta), Mr. DeMott was severely wounded in his leg and sent to a Dutch military hospital in Malang. Confined to hospital bed, he was unable to evacuate with his squadron at the end of February to Australia. The invading Japanese captured him on March 8, 1942. After several months when he was able to walk without crutches, he was sent to the western mountains of Java to a large POW camp for Dutch and British near Bandoeng (today’s Bandung), near Tjimahi that sent details out to do farming. This camp was possibly the Baros 5 Camp near the plantations of Lewigadjah. In late 1943, he was sent to “Bicycle Camp” in Batavia, Java. This camp had housed the Dutch 10th Infantry Battalion in Batavia, and took its name from the battalion’s use of bicycles for transportation. There he helped build fences and dig ditches as well as work on the docks. The prisoners never received official word that the war had ended. They simply realized something had changed when their treatment improved, they were allowed to go outside the Camp, and the Japanese officers no longer carried swords. On September 19, 1945, US Army Special Forces liberated the Camp. Mr. DeMott, starved, beaten and having temporarily lost his eyesight, never lost hope. He flew back to the States via Calcutta, Egypt, the Azores Islands, and Canada. In late October 1945, he arrived at LaGuardia Airport in New York. He was hospitalized on Staten Island, New York before going to Fletcher General Hospital in Cambridge, Ohio. He was discharged from the U.S. Army on May 20, 1946 with two Purple Hearts. Returning home, he used the GI Bill to obtain a BS in Engineering in 1949, from Pennsylvania State University and became an electrical engineer. After graduation, he worked at Sylvania Electric Products Inc. as a production engineer and then in telemetry for the Applied Science Corporation of Princeton (ASCOP). He retired from RCA as design developer, but went on to work as a plant manager in Lancaster, Pennsylvania for Champion Blower & Forge Co. (today’s Champion Fan) for an additional five years. In July 1979, he took full retirement. A Ham radio operator most of his life, he also enjoyed gardening. His wife of 67 years, Kate, died in August 2015.
POW# - unknown

CARL DYER, 91, resides in Oglesby, Illinois. He grew up in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Not a fan of schoolwork, Mr. Dyer at 16 convinced the U.S. Army recruiter that he was 18 and enlisted. Sworn in on March 17, 1941 at Camp Joseph T. Robinson in Little Rock, he was sent immediately to California and Fort McDowell (Angel Island). Barely a month later he was on a troop transport to Manila, arriving May 12, 1941. He was stationed with at Fort William McKinley as a member of the 12th Quartermaster Regiment Philippine Scouts supplying gasoline to the troops on Bataan. After Bataan was surrendered on April 9, 1942, he escaped the next day to Corregidor aboard a fresh water barge from Sisiman Cove near Mariveles—where most of the surrendered troops on Bataan began the Bataan Death March. On Corregidor, he was assigned to the defense of Monkey Point. After surrender on May 6th, he joined thousands of other POW on a small open area, the 92nd Garage, to wait nearly three weeks in the tropical sun with little food or water to be sent by boat to Manila. The men were then made to wade ashore before being paraded six miles down Dewey Boulevard on a “Victory March" to the old Spanish-built prison of Bilibid. Within a few days they were moved by train and foot to the squalid Cabanatuan #3 POW Camp. On November 7, 1942, Mr. Dyer and over 1,400 American POWs were transferred to Japan via Formosa by the Hellship Nagato Maruto. After arriving at the Port of Moji, Mr. Dyer was sent to POW Camp Osaka 4-B Tanagawa where he was a slave laborer for Tobishima-gumi (today’s Tobishima Corporation). There he helped build breakwater for a primitive dry-dock and submarine base. This camp was noted for the severe malnutrition of its prisonsers and an excessive death rate. It was closed March 20, 1945, and he was then moved to Osaka 8-D Naruo a POW camp to provide slave labor for Showa Denkyoku (Showa Electrode Company, Ltd., today’s SEC Carbon, Ltd.) for a graphite factory. This camp was closed in May and he was transferred Osaka 5-B Tsuruga on the Sea of Japan to be a slave stevedore for Tsuruga Harbor Transportation Company (company no longer exists). After the docks were bombed in June, the POWs were shifted between a brickyard and the port. It was at the dock that he listened with the Japanese workers to the Emperor say that the war had ended. After the first food airdrops into his POW camp, he and a number of fellow POWs walked out of the camp and commandeered a train to Tokyo. From there they were flown to Manila on August 29th and then boarded USS Rodman to San Francisco arriving there October 3, 1946. After a check up at Letterman Army Hospital, he was sent home to Fort Smith, Arkansas. He spent several more months at the Hot Springs Army-Navy General Hospital before he was discharged from the Army on March 15, 1946. He took advantage of the GI Bill by taking courses on mechanics at the Fort Smith High School. Mr. Dyer first worked at the Lowell Brickyard in Chicago and then as a tractor operator at the Caterpillar plant in Aurora, Illinois. After retiring in 1985, he and his wife moved to Hawaii, but returned to Illinois in September of 2000. Mr. Dyer was widowed in 2009 after 63 years of marriage to Jean, an Army nurse he met at the Letterman Army Hospital.
POW# 459
Philippines POW# 1-9778

ARTHUR GRUENBERG, 94, lives in Everett, Washington State. Mr. Gruenberg grew up on Long Island, New York and Colorado. He enlisted in the Marine Corps August 1, 1940, in Denver, Colorado and took his training at San Diego’s Marine Corps Recruit Depot. He was soon sent aboard the USS Chaumont (AP-5) via Manila to Shanghai to be part of A Company 1st Battalion of the 4th Marines—best known as the China Marines—that provided security for the Americans in the international settlement. As with most of the China Marines he was evacuated (either SS President Harrison or SS President Madison) November 27-28 to the Philippines to reinforce the defenses of the Islands. Prior to boarding the ship, he volunteered to test a new typhus vaccine with the result he arrived in the Philippines sick with typhus. Sent to Olongapo Naval Station on Subic Bay, he recovered. When war started he was sent to Corregidor and assigned to the 1st Battalion as a runner and telephone messenger through the siege of Corregidor. On May 6th, he delivered the surrender message from Major General Jonathan Wainwright to Lt Colonel Curtis T Beecher who commanded the 1st Battalion on East Sector-From Malinta Hill (inclusive) to the tail of the island. Like most of the 12,000 men on Corregidor, Mr. Gruenberg was crowded into a small open area, the 92nd Garage, to wait nearly three weeks in the tropical sun with little food or water to be sent by boat to Manila. The men were then made to wade ashore before being paraded six miles down Dewey Boulevard on a “Victory March" to the old Spanish-built prison of Bilibid. Within a few days they were moved by train and foot to the squalid Cabanatuan POW Camp #1. He arrived blind due to a vitamin A deficiency. US Army Dr Samuel Bloom was able to save his right eye’s site (this eye remains 20/20), but not the left. Mr. Gruenberg was eventually able to be sent to do farm work and other labor until he contracted malaria. In July 1944, Mr. Gruenberg, along with 1,540 other POWs, was taken aboard the Hellship Nissyo Maru via Formosa to Japan. After arriving at the port of Moji, Japan, he was sent to the POW Camp Fukuoka 7-B Futase (known as Shin-Iizuka) to be a slave laborer for Japan Iron & Steel Co., Ltd, (Nippon Seitetsu, today’s Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation. The camp is associated with the Fukuoka-Yamaguichi area awarded UNESCO World Industrial Heritage status this past July, albeit without mention of the hundreds of POW slave laborers who toiled there. At first assigned to build air raid shelters, he eventually ended up mining coal. His camp was liberated on September 16, 1945, and the POWs were put on trains to Nagasaki where many boarded Navy transport ships to San Francisco. Returning to the U.S., he spent approximately one year in three military hospitals: Oak Knoll, California; Glenwood Springs, Colorado; and St Albans Military Hospital, New York where they operated, ultimately, unsuccessfully on his left eye. Now a staff sergeant, he was able to reenlist in the Marine Corps under a waiver in September 1946. He was first sent to Washington, DC as a guard at the Naval Shipyard’s Naval Communications Annex. In Washington, he married and had two daughters. He was eventually assigned to the Brooklyn Naval Shipyard graves registration to escort WWII dead home. In the summer of 1950, he was transferred to Camp Pendleton and then to Korea. He arrived in time to participate in the legendary battle of the Chosin Reservoir. He was one of the handful of survivors of Fox Company’s (2n Battalion 7 Marine Rgt 1st ) bitter battle from November 27 through December 2, 1950 to protect, at all costs, a thin Toktong Pass escape route through the steep Nang­nim Mountains(See: The Last Stand of Fox Company: A True Story of U.S. Marines in Combat).Wounded shortly after this battle, he returned to the front in May until August 1951. Discharged September 10, 1952, he eventually went to work for the Denver water department and in 1954 founded his own excavating company. Moving to Seattle in 1966, he joined the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 302 working on construction project throughout the fast-growing region. He retired in 1980, to travel, fish, and enjoy life. Mr. Gruenberg oral history can be found as part of the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress.
POW# 599
Philippines PO# 1-9596

GEORGE HIRSCHKAMP, 95, resides in Sandpoint, Idaho. Born in Germany, he came to the U.S. with his mother in 1928, and settled in the Chicago suburb of Berwyn. At 18, he enlisted in the Marine Corps in February 1938, and took his basic training at the San Diego Marine Corps Recruit Depot. He was sent to the San Francisco Naval Station for instruction on becoming a radio communications operator. He was assigned mid-1940 to the 4th Marines as part of a detachment to the U.S. Embassy in Peking to work as a radio operator—part of a small, 130-man support unit stationed there before the war. December 8, 1941, they were all taken prisoner on what was the first day of the war. They were then transferred to Tientsin, followed by Woosung and then Kiangwan, the later two suburbs of Shanghai. At Woosung, Hirschkamp repaired Japanese vehicles and helped build a huge mountain for a military firing range that the POWs referred to as Mt Fuji. In July 1945, he was transferred to Japan via Manchuria and Pusan to northern Japan. He was fist sent to Hokodate #2 Akahira to be a slave laborer for an Asano coal mine owned by Sumitomo Mining (today’s Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation) and then to Hakodate 3-B Utashinai, he also mined coal, this time for the Sorachi Office of Hokkaido Shipping and Mining Company, Ltd., which is today’s Hokkaido Colliery & Steamship Co., Ltd. He was liberated from this camp on September 15, 1945. The POWs at this camp learned of the end of the war when the camp commander “ lined us up on the parade ground and informed us that hostilities had ceased,” Hirschkamp recalled. “Then we all had a drink of sake. The war had ended. The next morning, we woke up and - lo and behold - they were all gone,” he continued. They had abandoned us. From then on, everything became sweet.” The POWs left the camp on September 17th, and were put aboard a British destroyer and taken to Tokyo for processing before a long ship voyage to the States. After returning from Japan, he used the GI Bill to complete his GED and study mathematics at Morton College in Cicero, Illinois. He also married the woman who waited seven years for him to return from the Marines. Mr. Hirschkamp likes to recount that “When I got home, we dated a couple times and she had the brass to ask me, ‘When are we going to get married, George?’ “I stammered and stuttered and she finally said, ‘It’s June 1 [1946] or never.’ So we got married.” He worked for International Harvester in Illinois and eventually at Ford Aerospace’s plant in Newport Beach, California. He retired in 1980 and traveled the country until his wife of 62 years, Lorraine, passed away.
POW# unknown

GEORGE W. ROGERS, 96, resides in Lynchburg, Virginia. Mr. Rogers grew up in St Louis, Missouri and enlisted in the U.S. Army August 20, 1941, at Jefferson Barracks. He arrived on the Philippines October 1 and was assigned to 4th Chemical Company. At first a clerk/typist at Fort McKinley, he was soon fighting in the defense of Bataan with L Company of the 31st Infantry Regiment (US) after Japan’s December 8 invasion. American forces were short of food, ammunition, and reinforcements throughout the campaign against the better equipped and trained Japanese. All forces on Bataan were surrendered on April 9, 1942, and most were forced on the infamous Bataan Death March. Mr. Rogers endured the 65-mile trek up the Bataan Peninsula experiencing starvation, exhaustion, and beatings while witnessing merciless murders and torture. At the Camp O’Donnell where 1,500 Americans died over four months, he was a gravedigger. In August, he was moved to Cabanatuan #3 to farm rice and vegetables as well as duty building an airfield. On top of the beatings he received from the camp guards, Mr. Rogers and his fellow soldiers suffered through extreme pain in their feet and legs due primarily to dry or dry beriberi, a disease affecting the nerves and muscles. He also survived malaria and spent six months quarantined for what was thought to be amoebic dysentery. On July 17, 1944, he was one of 1541 POWs taken to Japan via Formosa aboard the Hellship Nissyo Maru. During the 18-day trip with barely any food or clean drinking water, extreme heat, rampant illness — both physical and mental—he said,  “I almost lost it, and then … I got a peace that came over me, and I just felt everything is going to be alright, just relax”; Rogers said. “As far as I’m concerned, God was at work again.” After arriving at the port of Moji, Japan, he was sent to POW Camp Fukuoka 3-B Yawata Japan Iron & Steel Co., Ltd. (Nippon Seitetsu; today’s Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation) to work in the Yawata steel mill for the rest of the war. Yawata featured Japan’s first blast furnace and was one the Empire’s most important armament makers. It was the primary target for the second atomic bomb. Cloud cover from aerial bombing on August 8, 1945, prevented this, but succeed in destroying key production facilities and ending prisoner work at the mill. In July 2015, the site was given UNESCO World Industrial Heritage status, albeit without mention of the hundreds of POW slave laborers—American, British, Australian, Dutch, Portuguese, Jamaican, Indian, Malay, Chinese, and Arabians at the site. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the facilities of Yawata Steel Works in July 2014, to encourage the UNESCO application. On August 15, 1945, the camp commander announced that the war had ended and the guards disappear. The camp was liberated on September 13th. Mr. Rogers returned to the U.S. a gaunt, 6-foot-3, 85 pounds. Military doctors told him that it was unlikely that he would live past 45 or 50, keep his teeth, or have children. At 96, he retains his teeth, has five children, and displays “a contagious joy.” Mr. Rogers used the G.I. Bill to obtain an accounting degree from St. Louis University. Starting in 1973, Mr. Rogers was the CFO for Reverend Jerry Falwell (founder of the Moral Majority) overseeing his Old Time Gospel Hour television ministry and the Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. He became Liberty University’s vice president of finance and administration in 1999, through to Rev Falwell’s death in 2007. In 2010, Liberty University named an award in Rogers' honor. The George Rogers Champion of Freedom Award is given annually to a man or woman who served in the United States Armed Forces and went above the call of duty, displaying extraordinary heroism while serving. The award is presented at a Flames football game during Liberty's Military Emphasis Week, held near Veterans Day. A bust of Rogers stands at the gate of Williams Stadium, the home of the Liberty Flames football team, as a tribute to Rogers for his sacrifices. Mr. Rogers was married 67 year to Barbara,who passed away this August.
POW# unknown
Philippines POW# 1-06096

JACK DOYLE WARNER, 94, lives in Elk City, Oklahoma. Mr. Warner grew up in western Oklahoma and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on October 18, 1939. After basic training at San Diego’s Marine Corps Recruit Depot his first duty was at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, 25 miles north of San Francisco. In the summer of 1940, he was on a 148-day voyage to Shanghai to be part of A Company 1st Battalion of the 4th Marines—best known as the China Marines—that provided security for the Americans in the international settlement. In late November 1941, Mr. Warner thinking he was returning to the U.S. found instead that he and the regiment were being sent to the Philippines to defend the island of Corregidor from a potential Japanese invasion. Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese bombed Corregidor. He was stationed at Kindley Airstrip as a rifleman with the 2nd Marine Battalion. With the fall of Corregidor on May 6th, he and most of the 12,000 men on Corregidor were crowded into a small open area, the 92nd Garage, to wait nearly three weeks in the tropical sun with little food or water to be sent by boat to Manila. The men were then made to wade ashore before being paraded six miles down Dewey Boulevard on a “Victory March" to the old Spanish-built prison of Bilibid. Within a few days they were moved by train and foot to the squalid Cabanatuan POW Camp. In August 1942, his Japanese captors forced him and hundreds of surviving American troops to strip naked to be examined by Japanese military doctors. Warner and 300 Americans picked to be the first group of POWs to go to Japan. On September 21, the POWs were sent to Formosa aboard the Hellship Lima Maru. They spent two months there, ostensibly to learn Japanese. From Taiwan, the POWs were shipped aboard the Dainichi Maru arriving in Moji, Japan on November 25th. At first, Mr. Warner was a slave laborer at POW Camp Tokyo 1-D Yokohama, providing riveter labor for shipyard and ship construction. He was also forced to repair German ships that docked outside the Yokohama harbor. However, he said the Germans fed him better than the Japanese, who limited the POW diet to small amounts of rice and fish heads. “When we went out and riveted on a German ship, we always liked that because they carried hogs on their ships and they fed us two meals,” said Warner, “We got our ration plus what they gave us and we usually carried ours back to give to our buddies.” After the docks were bombed by in May 1945, he was sent to POW Camp Sendai 5-B Kamaishi, and toiled as a mechanic repairing slag cars at iron mill works owned by Japan Iron & Steel Co., Ltd, (today’s Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation). At the camp, Warner volunteered to take a beating for a Navy sailor who he said was in bad shape. “I don’t know what he had done, but he was a good kid and I knew him,” said Warner. “We knew he couldn’t take it if they give him a real beating.” In August 1945, he twice escaped from the camp. Miraculously, Camp Commander Makoto Inaki (from April 1944) did not have the escapees executed, but instead had them beaten and confined to the guardhouse. The second time he escaped, the war ended and he was advised by local Japanese to return to the camp for repatriation. He and a buddy jumped the evacuation team to Sendai and made their way to Yokohama. After a series of adventures included a tour of the city sanctioned by the commanding general, they flew out of Tokyo and island hopped to Oakland. On May 24, 1946 he returned to civilian life. After returning to his home, Mr. Warner used the G.I. Bill education benefits to take vocational agricultural classes at Hammon, Oklahoma’s high school. For 17 years he farmed until 1961 when his property became part of Foss Lake reservoir. He joined the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Retiring in 1982, he travelled with his wife, June, to all 50 states and many foreign countries. Married 68 years, he was widowed in 2014.
POW# 4463
Taiwan POW# 972

CLIFFORD WARREN, 91, resides in Shepherd, Texas. At 16, Mr. Warren left the family farm near Houston, Texas without his parent’s permission and enlisted in the U.S. Army in February 1941. Leaving behind the family’s farm was an easy decision, considering they had already experienced three crop failures, including two floods and one fire. His parents did not know where he was until he arrived in the Philippines aboard the USAT Republic on April 22, 1941. There he immediately sent his parents a letter explaining where he was and how long he believed he would be there. He became a member of the 60th Coast Artillery Regiment, 1st Battalion Battery “D” or “Denver” manning 3”anti-aircraft guns near Kindley Field on Corregidor Island. This battery was the first confront Japanese invading amphibious forces in May 1944. Unfortunately, shelling from Bataan had killed their commanding officer in last part of April, which undermined their effectiveness. With the fall of Corregidor on May 6th, he and most of the 12,000 men on Corregidor were crowded into a small open area, the 92nd Garage, to wait nearly three weeks in the tropical sun with little food or water to be sent by boat to Manila. The men were then made to wade ashore before being paraded six miles down Dewey Boulevard on a “Victory March" to the old Spanish-built prison of Bilibid. Within a few days they were moved by train and foot to the squalid Cabanatuan POW Camp. He was placed at a work detail to build an airfield in Lipa City in Batangas Province for 18 months. Most of the men were transferred from here in March of 1944 to construct another runway at Camp Murphy. In the summer of 1944, he was shipped to Japan via the Hellship Nissyo Maru. Upon arrival he was sent to POW Camp Nagoya 1-B Kamioka, where he was a slave laborer to mine lead and zinc for Mitsui Mining Co., the predecessor of today’s Nippon Coke & Engineering Co., Ltd. In July 2015, the site was given UNESCO World Industrial Heritage status, albeit without mention of the hundreds of POW slave laborers who toiled there. The camp, reportedly was for “hard cases” who were difficult for the Japanese to manage. Mr. Warner recalls that the POWs were repeatedly told that they would be killed if and when the country was invaded. Twice, he said, the guards would take them out and have them sit on the roads alongside the mountain. Then set up machine guns at either end of the road. After awhile they would dismantle the guns and take them back to work. He thinks they were practicing what they would do if there had been a land invasion. Toward end of August the Japanese camp commander escorted the POWs south by train. On the middle of the third day they could go no further due to track damage, but American forces were waiting there to truck any POW's who arrived back to Tokyo. From there they were flown to Okinawa. He remembers being able to smell beef stew on the airfield there from the field kitchens near the beach. But the first thing he wanted was coffee as he had not had any in four years! Five days later they were flown on B-24s to the Philippines. In the Philippines he was actually able to connect with a brother, Willie Kelso Warren, who he had not seen since before the war. He went by troop ship from there to San Francisco. He turned 21 the day they sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge October 15, 1945. After two days in San Francisco, he was sent by train to the McCloskey General Hospital in Temple, Texas (today’s Olin E. Teague Veterans' Medical Center in Temple, Texas). He was to be there for three months but was soon furloughed to spend the time at his parent's in Leggitt, Texas or in Beaumont, Texas courting, Ivene, his wife to be. He was discharged at Fort Sam Houston January 29, 1946, and married Ivene on October 6, 1946. Mr. Warren tried night school at the University of Houston and working days at Ford Motor Company. Severe PTSD made this difficult. He switched to working various positions operating machinery and in 1965 went to work for Brown & Root Engineering and Construction (today’s KBR Inc.) He helped run the engine rooms for the big offshore derrick barges. Later he was in the first group of Safety Officers Brown & Root trained to meet the new OSHA safety regulations. He in 1986 retired as the #2 Safety Man for Brown & Root construction of the nuclear power plant at Glen Rose, Texas, known as Comanche Peak. He was widowed in 1990 and remarried in 1997 to Myrtle Emmons.
POW# 488
Philippines POW# 1-11350

Friday, September 18, 2015

ADBC & National POW/MIA Recognition Day

American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, Memorial Society Inc. 

National POW/MIA Recognition Day 

September 18, 2015 

Today, National POW/MIA Recognition Day, is a time of reflection for the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society. Today, we honor our family members and friends who were prisoners of war of Japan, especially the many who did not return. We also wish to credit the hard work of descendants, researchers, scholars, and government officials who have labored to ensure that the history of the American POWs of Japan is remembered and respected.

On this 70th anniversary year of the end of World War II, we were heartened by and appreciative of the recognition of our POWs by the governments of both Japan and the United States. In his September 2nd VJ day statement, U.S. President Barak Obama remembered “those who endured unimaginable suffering as prisoners of war.” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in his war anniversary statement on August 14th recognized “the former POWs who experienced unbearable sufferings caused by the Japanese military.”

This October will see the sixth iteration of the Japan/POW Friendship Program. Nine American former POWs of Japan will be guests of the Japanese government as emissaries of peace, understanding, and reconciliation. There will be a seventh trip in December to ensure that this year all former POWs of Japan who are able and want to visit Japan can do so.

The ordeal of the American POWs of Japan is not just another facet of war history. Nor is it simply another saga of WWII suffering. It is a history of resilience, survival, and the human spirit, good and bad. And it has become an example of a path toward mutual understanding between Japan and its former victims.

We appreciate the efforts of the Abe Administration to recognize our shared past by continuing this important visitation program and we hope it will continue past 2015 and include descendants and widows as originally designed. It has done much to heal injured psyches, humanize past adversaries, and enlighten new generations. The program is the embodiment of Prime Minister Abe’s call to his citizens that “…we Japanese, across generations, must squarely face the history of the past. We have the responsibility to inherit the past, in all humbleness, and pass it on to the future.”

Saturday, September 12, 2015

At Last in Nagaski

Memorial Unveiling and Peace Ceremony 

Koyagi Junior High School
Koyagi-machi, Nagasaki City

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Hosted by
Committee of the Memorial Dedication for Fukuoka POW Camp 2-B
Representative Tomonaga Masao (朝長万左男)

At Fukuoka POW Camp 2-B (Koyagi Camp), 499 British, Dutch, Australian and American POWs were liberated in September 1945. A total of 73 POWs perished before liberation due to disease and abuse. The POWs were slave laborers for Kawanami Koyagi Shipbuilding Co., which was purchased by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in 1967. MHI still owns a facility at the site.

With the understanding and support from Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Embassy of the Netherlands, Embassy of the United Kingdom, Embassy of Australia and Embassy of the United States in Japan, the Committee of the Memorial Dedication built this memorial, engraved on it the names of all who died, and sent their hearts out to all who were victimized by the war including returnees. See this Daily Telegraph article on the British POWs at the camp.

This is a particularly interesting camp as the POWs were affected by the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and some even get medical compensation from Japan. More interesting, it held the the one Japanese-American POW who did not receive a Gold Medal for being a Japanese American in combat. Frank Fujita was with the Texas National Guard and the Lost Battalion that fought and was captured on Java in March 1942. He was not discovered as Japanese until June 1, 1944. 

The Memorial Unveiling and Peace Ceremony will be held as follows:
10:00 am - Chartered buses depart from Nagasaki Station to pick up people at hotels to take them to Koyagi-machi

10:45 am - Opening Ceremony

11:00~Noon - Ceremony
· Silent prayer

· Opening Speech by Committee Representative Tomonaga Masao

· Memorial Unveiling

· Guest Speech by representative from Ministry of Foreign Affairs

· Guest Speech by representative of survivors

· Guest Speech by Nagasaki Prefectural Governor

· Guest Speech by Mayor of Nagasaki city

· Flower tributes by

Committee Representative Tomonaga Masao
Representative from Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Representative of survivors
Nagasaki Prefectural Governor
Mayor of Nagasaki city
Representative from Embassy of the Netherlands in Japan
Representative from Embassy of the United Kingdom in Japan
Representative from Embassy of the Australia in Japan
Representative from Embassy of the United States in Japan
Representative of the bereaved family
Representative from POW Research Network Japan
Representative of the region
Student representative

12:15~12:40 p.m. Move to Hotel Yasuragi Iojima by bus
12:40~02:00 p.m. Reception (Yasuragi Iojima)
· Host Speech

· Speeches by representatives of four embassies

· Speech by representative of the bereaved family

· Speech by representative from POW Research Network Japan

· Toast

02:15~04:00 p.m. Friendly talk
04:10 p.m. Leave for Nagasaki city by bus
05:00 p.m. Dismiss at Nagasaki Station