Saturday, July 07, 2018

Finally, a funeral for the Rabbi of Cabanatuan

On Friday, June 29, 2018 at Arlington National Cemetery the Kaddish--the Jewish prayer to remember the dead--was finally and officially chanted for Army Corps of Engineers Master Sgt. Aaron Kliatchko, the Rabbi of Cabanatuan.  Although there was no body to occupy his grave, a tombstone now stands to honor him. After the formal military funeral, which included a Rabbi, a Priest, and the Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region U.S. Army Military District of Washington Command Chaplain Col. Terry Austin, a reception was held at the National Museum of Jewish Military History in Washington, DC,

Aaron Kliatchko
died on December 31, 1944 aboard the Japanese hellship Brazil Maru as it arrived in Takao Harbor, Formosa from the Philippines bringing the last of the Allied POWs from the Philipines to Japan. His remains have never been accounted for.

Kliatchko was born in 1887 to an Orthodox Jewish family in Minsk, the capital of today’s Belarus. As a teenager he was forced to serve in the Russian Imperial Army during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05). He was only 17 when he became a prisoner of war of Imperial Japan.

After the war, he studied to become a Cantor, a singer of Jewish liturgical music. Instead, in 1907, he emigrated to the United States. Finding work in the lower East Side of Manhattan must have been a challenge. Thus, in February 1910, he enlisted in the U.S. Army at the Fort Slocum, New York recruiting depot. He was assigned to the Coastal Artillery Corps and stationed in New London, Connecticut and at Fort Terry, New York

During his enlistment and after his discharge in February 1913, Kliatchko studied for and completed an engineering correspondence course. This distinction allowed him to reenlist in the U.S. Army in December 1914 with Army Corps of Engineers. He had become a U.S. citizen in July 1913.

Kliatchko’s records show that he was assigned to the First Battalion, Company C at Washington Barracks, Washington, DC where he became a Corporal in May 1915. The First Battalion became the First Engineers with the U.S. entry into World War I.

It is unclear where he was stationed when the U.S. entered World War I in April 1917. He spoke of being sent to France in June 1917 with the first engineers to join the American Expeditionary Forces. While teaching math to young neighbors on the Philippines, Kliatchko retold many stories of battles in France, including the Battle of Argonne Forest, the final Allied offensive of the War, which ended November 11, 1918. His accounts were so vivid that many may have thought he was there.

There is a record, however, that he was aboard the troop transport USAT Thomas in November 1915 to the Philippine Islands. On December 7, 1917, he was promoted in the Philippines to Sergeant First Class of Company A, 3rd Engineers. This regiment was stationed there to help modernize the fortress island of Corregidor in Manila Bay and the infrastructure of the Philippine Islands, a territory of the United States since 1898.

On October 15, 1918, shortly before the end of WWI, he was promoted to Master Engineer, Junior Grade. Discharged in August 1919, Kliatchko remained in the Philippines where he worked with the then-American construction and engineering company Atlantic Gulf & Pacific Co (today’s AG&P). He was the project engineer for the Angat Dam that supplies water to Metro Manila and irrigation in Bulacan.

Kliatchko retired in the early 1930s to become a gentleman farmer. He married and raised a family of ten. When the Japanese invaded the Philippines in December 1941, the former solider, now 55, reportedly volunteered as an American intelligence agent under the codename “K.V.” In March 1942, he left his family and joined American troops fighting the invading Japanese on the Bataan peninsula. There he re-enlisted with the U.S. Army and was designated the rank of Master Sergeant with the Army Corps of Engineers. Some records simply note he was a “surveyor,” to protect his identity.

He was on Bataan when U.S. forces were surrendered on April 9, 1942 and, at 55, for the second time he became a prisoner of Imperial Japan. Kliatchko then survived one of the most infamous war crimes of WWII, the Bataan Death March. He also survived the squalid, makeshift POW Camp O’Donnell where men died at the rate of 300 per day.

In June 1942, after the Japanese released the captured Filipino soldiers, the surviving American POWs were moved to the Cabanatuan Prison Camp. Conditions were better than at O’Donnell, but not by much. Food, clothing, water, and medicine remained scarce. There he remained until December 1944.

According to records, as of June 1943, Cabanatuan had 121 Jewish prisoners. Kliatchko, who had been trained as a Cantor, found a calling to help lead Jewish services and funerals. With his long white beard and impressive bass voice, he soon became known as the “Rabbi of Cabanatuan.” His singing of the Jewish prayers comforted Jew and Gentile alike.

At the camp, the Japanese assigned him to shepherd carabaos (water buffalo) that transported supplies from the town to the POW camp. The task gave him the opportunity to smuggle notes, money, and medicines for his fellow prisoners. Unfortunately, his Japanese captors eventually discovered his courier service and subjected him to months of solitary confinement with reduced rations.

On December 13, 1944, Kliatchko was among more than 1,600 prisoners, mostly officers and medical personnel, who were boarded in the holds of the hellship Oryoku Maru, destined for slave labor in Japan. It was the last hellship from the Philippines to Japan. Barely a day out of Manila, near Subic Bay, American bombers off the carrier USS Hornet sunk the ship. Dodging bullets from Japanese soldiers, the survivors made it to shore. There they were kept a week on an abandoned tennis court exposed to the tropical sun with little water and no food.

Finally moved inland and then to a new dock north of Subic Bay, the men were put aboard two other hellships to continue the voyage north. Kliatchko died from his wounds on December 31, 1944 aboard the Brazil Maru as it arrived in Takeo Harbor, Formosa. 

It is unknown where his body rests. Ordinarily, the Japanese, with no ceremony, would throw the dead into the sea. It is possible, however, his remains are among those buried on shore in Formosa after the American bombing of the Enoura Maru.

These men were disinterred after the war and reburied in graves marked “Unknowns” in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. 

Less than 600 of the original shipment prisoners from the Oyroku Maru survived to voyage’s destination of Moji, Japan on January 30, 1945. Many died of wounds and exposure as the days became increasingly cold. At least 100 died the first few days on Japanese soil. Those remaining were soon put on new hellships to Korea and then taken by train to a POW camp at Mukden in northern China. 

Barely 400 of these men survived the war. Some believe the Americans were taken to China not to be slave laborers, but to be hostages. All the senior military officials from surrendered Allied forces were moved to or near Mukden by 1945. There is no extant documentation, however, of this theory.

In 1948, Master Sgt. Kliatchko was posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom, the highest honor the U.S. can give a civilian. 

Monday, June 18, 2018

Another California POW passes

POW Memorial at
Services are scheduled for Robert J. Vogler, Jr., 97, of Rancho Bernardo, San Diego, on June 20, 2018 at 11:00am at Miramar National Cemetery.

He led the second POW visitation program to Japan in 2011 and visited the Mitsui mine where he was liberated.

He joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in January 1940 at the age of 19. Stationed in Manila as part of the 24th Pursuit Group 17th Pursuit Squadron, he completed aircraft instrument training and attended the University of Philippines to study engineering. He serviced aircraft unitl the invading Japanese destroyed the planes and air fields in the December 1942. He was then assigned to the infantry wehre fought on Bataan. 

As a POW, he survived the Bataan Death March, Camp O'Donnell, and Cabanatuan in the Philippines. He was shipped to Mukden, China (today's Shenyang) in October 1942 aboard Mitsubishi's hellship Tottori Maru via Korea to Manchuria. Vogler was a slave laborer at MKK factory (Manshu Kosaku Kikai, which some researchers believe was owned by Mitsubishi and known as Manchuria Mitsubishi Machine Tool Company, Ltd.), working as a grinding specialist. He believes that the multiple shots and rectal probes that he received while at Mukden were human medical experiments conducted by the Imperial Army's 731st Biological Warfare Unit

In May 1944, he and 150 American "difficult" POWs were transferred to Nagoya-1B-Kamioka, Japan as punishment for bad behavior to be slave laborers for Mitsui Mining (now Kamioka Kogyo, a 100% subsidiary of Mitsui Mining & Smelting Co., Ltd.) mining lead and zinc. Mitsui now operates a recycling center at the former POW camp site. The mine was also the source of one of Japan's four major cases of mass industrial poisoning in the 1960s. 

After the war, he remained in the U.S. Air Force, retiring in 1960. He was then employed by General Dynamics as a manufacturing and development engineer, but was forced to retire in 1976 due to health issues caused by his POW experience. In 2000, Mr. Volger and his wife returned to Kamioka to a warm welcome from mine representatives, town officials, citizens, and school children. He said that the visit brought him to tears and helped rest the many demons that haunted him from his maltreatment in Japan's POW camps.
POW#138 and #0336

Robert Vogler Jr., Bataan Death March survivor who made peace with the Japanese, dies at 97

San Diego Union-Tribune, June 8, 2018

Robert Vogler Jr. liked to eat. Nobody blamed him.

Mr. Vogler had survived the Bataan Death March, one of World War II’s signature horrors, and spent more than three years in Japanese prison camps. When the war ended in 1945 and he was freed, his weight had dropped from 210 pounds to 80.

So he was hungry. And not just for food.

Mr. Vogler, who died June 1 at age 97 at his home in Rancho Bernardo, was also hungry for peace. He had nightmares about his war experiences, and while he never wanted to forget what happened, he hoped to learn how to forgive.

He and his wife invited a Japanese girl into their home for several weeks as a foreign-exchange student. He tracked down a Japanese prison guard he credited with saving his life, and eventually traveled to Japan to visit the man’s family. He returned to the lead mine where he’d been forced to work during the war.

“I feel a lot better now,” he told the Union-Tribune in June 1997, shortly after returning from Japan. “I think I left a little of the garbage back there.”

His family noticed a change. “I used to tease him,” said his wife, Berni. “I told him: ‘Your stone heart has been softened.’”

Mr. Vogler was born May 1, 1921, in Seattle. His father, Robert Sr., worked for the electric company, and his mother, Faith, was a homemaker. At age 19, he enlisted in what was known as the Army Air Corps (later the Air Force) and was sent to the Philippines, where he worked on airplanes as an instrument specialist.

After Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, they invaded the Philippines. Allied forces — about 10,000 Americans and 60,000 Filipinos — retreated to the Bataan Peninsula and fought for more than three months before they ran out of food and ammunition and were ordered by their commander to surrender.

The captives were forced to march in 100-degree heat for about a week with almost no water or food. Those who stopped walking or complained were stabbed with bayonets, shot or beheaded. By the time the march ended some 70 miles later at a prison camp, thousands had died.

Mr. Vogler was then packed with other prisoners into the hold of a “hell ship” and sent to Manchuria, where they were put to work in a Mitsubishi factory making parts for the Japanese war machine. Covertly, he and the others built defects into the parts.

When the Japanese figured out the sabotage, they scattered the captives to other camps. Mr. Vogler wound up at a lead mine near Kamioka, a mountain village. There, he befriended a guard, Masao Okada, who would occasionally slip him extra food and cigarettes and intervene to shorten beatings.

After the war, Mr. Vogler stayed in the Air Force as a supply sergeant and served at bases in the United States and abroad for 20 years. He then moved to San Diego and worked at General Dynamics for about 15 years.

In retirement, he enjoyed tinkering with anything electrical, gardening, square-dancing, reading Westerns — and eating. “He’d been nearly starved to death so he made up for it,” said Julie Sutton, his stepdaughter.

At night, in bed, just before he turned off the lights, he would often ask his wife, “What are we having for dinner tomorrow?”

Through letters, Mr. Vogler stayed in touch with Okada. A couple of times he tried to go visit him in Japan, but found it too hard emotionally. By the time he was finally ready, the guard had died.

He went anyway, with his wife, in May 1997. They met government officials and visited a school, where Mr. Vogler read a short speech he had prepared:

“I come to Kamioka a free man — as one who came to remember that other man who showed me that humanity can still exist despite opposing sides and different cultures. He recognized that I, too, was an individual of worth and not some faceless vile creature. He treated me with a degree of respect that I have never forgotten.”

The Voglers traveled to Okada’s home and met his widow and three sons. Mr. Vogler was given a gift: One of the late guard’s kimonos. He put it on, went over to a shrine set up near the living room, and bowed.

“That was a moment,” he told the Union-Tribune later. “I let them know that when I am gone, the robe will return to the family.”

His wife said she will keep that promise.

Among his other survivors are two stepchildren, Kyle Andrews (Pam) of Englewood, Fla., and Julie Sutton (Jim) of Lakeside; seven grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Remembering Eddie Fung

Typical labouring scene. Shows Hammer
and Tap, Embankment. Labouring, Timber felling
and an excavated cutting by Lt Fred "Smudger" Smit
At the entrance of the Yushukan, the museum at the Yasukuni Shrine to selected members of Japan's war dead in Tokyo, sits Nippon Sharyo's engine C5631. It is infamous for having pulled the first train over the Thai-Burma Death Railway in October 1943. Reportedly, Korean Comfort Women were the train's first cargo.

The Japanese forced over 200,000 Asian conscripts (romusha) and over 60,000 Allied POWs to construct the Railway. Among the Allied POWs were some 30,000 British including colonial troops, 13,000 Australians, 18,000 Dutch, and 700 Americans. Between June 1942 and October 1943 the POWs and forced laborers laid some 258 miles (415 km) of track from Ban Pong, Thailand (roughly 45 miles [72 km] west of Bangkok), to Thanbyuzayat, Burma (roughly 35 miles [56 km] south of Mawlamyine). During this time, prisoners suffered from disease, malnutrition, injury, and cruel forms of punishment and torture inflicted by the Japanese.

One of the Americans was Eddie Fung. He was a private with the Texas Lost Battalion that fought the Japanese on Java in early March 1942. 

Dr. Fung, 96, died peacefully at home in his sleep on March 25, 2018. He will be buried with full military honors at Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Colma, California on June 20, 2018. All are welcome to attend.

Dr. Fung had nothing less than an “extraordinary” life. 

Eddie became the only Chinese-American soldier captured by Imperial Japanese forces during World War II. His battalion—all white Texans, except for Frank Fujita, a Japanese-American from Abilene, Texas—became known as the “Lost Battalion” as it was surrendered on March 8, 1942 by its Dutch Commanders on Java and its fate unknown until near the end of the war.

In the statement below inserted in the Congressional Record on June 14th by US Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), the quote by Eddie is incomplete. It should continue on with:

click to order
 When people ask if I’ve had a good day, and I know them fairly well, I’ll say that I’ve never had a bad day since August 19, 1945 [his liberation in Burma], because nothing can be as bad as those camp days.  Whenever I start feeling sorry for myself, I can always say, ‘No, no, Ed, you’ve got a short memory, you’ve forgotten the lessons that you have undergone.’  One lesson I’ve learned well is that every moment that you’re alive, you’d better take advantage of the fact and enjoy it.


[Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 99 (Thursday, June 14, 2018)] [Page S3949]

Ms. HARRIS. Mr. President, California and the nation lost a trailblazer and a war hero. Mr. Eddie Fung served our country bravely throughout his tour with the Army National Guard as part of the 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery of the 36th Infantry Division, including 3\1/2\ years in a Japanese prisoners of war camp. Mr. Fung will be buried with full military honors at Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Colma, CA, on June 20, 2018. 

Born in San Francisco in 1922, Eddie left home at 16 to become a cowboy in Texas. He joined the National Guard at 17, and his unit was activated in November 1941 as part of the 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery of the 36th Infantry Division that was sent to Java, now part of Indonesia, to fight the invading Japanese in the early months of WWII. 

Eddie became the only Chinese-American soldier captured by Imperial Japan during World War II. His battalion was known as the Lost Battalion, as it was not until near the end of the war that there was any news of what happened to the men. 

Of the 558 men and officers who landed on Java on January 11, 1942, 534 became prisoners of war, POWs. Ninety-nine were sent to Japan to be slave laborers at Japanese factories and mines, and 435, including Eddie, were sent to work on the Thai-Burma "Death'' Railway that was made famous by the film "The Bridge on the River Kwai.'' Eddie endured nearly 4 years of grueling work, near-starvation, beatings, and tropical diseases as he worked on the infamous railroad project that resulted in the loss of over 12,000 Allied POW and 70,000 Asian lives. Eighty-nine of the men from the battalion died in captivity. 

Although Eddie said his capture was a defining moment in his life, the horrific experience is just one aspect of his long and rich life. It includes his Chinese-American upbringing and his life after the war, when he studied chemistry at Stanford University on the GI bill. He also worked as a metallurgist at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory and became a Tai Chi master after retirement. 

As he concluded in his autobiography, "The Adventures of Eddie Fung: Chinatown Kid, Texas Cowboy, Prisoner of War,'' University of Washington Press: ``Taking my life as a whole, I've had many more good days than I've had bad ones. But even the bad days serve a purpose. They remind me of how good I have it now, in the sense that if you have never known hunger, you will not appreciate food; if you have never been enslaved, you will not appreciate what it means to be free.'' 

Eddie Fung is a hero and a role model, and we will miss his vibrant spirit. The thoughts of San Franciscans and Californians are with his wife, Judy Yung of Santa Cruz.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Congress acknowledges the POWs who died in Hiroshima


of Massachusetts 
in the House of Representatives 
Thursday, May 24, 2018 

Ms. TSONGAS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to bring to your attention a unique monument that is about to be installed in my district on Memorial Day. On May 28th a ceremony will be held at the Centralville Memorial Park in Lowell, Massachusetts to place a memorial stone in honor of the 12 American Army and Naval aviators who died as POWs from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Participating in the remembrance will be Mr. Shigeaki Mori from Japan, a Hiroshima survivor (a hibakusha) who has devoted nearly half his life to identifying these men and notifying their families of their fate. 

One of the POWs was 19-year-old Navy Airman 3rd-class Norman Brissette from Lowell, Massachusetts. He was among the 12 American airmen who survived the downing of four planes while on missions over Hiroshima and Kure on July 28, 1945. At the memorial ceremony, the Brissette family and friends will be joined by the family of another Hiroshima POW Army Air Corps Staff Sgt. Ralph J. Neal from Corbin, Kentucky. Both families were featured in the documentary film, Paper Lanterns, about Mr. Mori's quest to honor the memory and bravery of these American POWs. 

Mr. Mori was eight years old when he survived the bombing of Hiroshima, then a military city. His elementary school became a temporary hospital and soon a crematory. As an adult, haunted by the horror and doubting the official number of 800 dead, Mr. Mori sought to find out how many people had died at his school. The actual number was 2,300. During his research, he also discovered that 12 American POWs were among the 100,000 who perished in Hiroshima. 

The Americans were prisoners of the Kempeitai and held in Hiroshima's Chugoku Military Police Headquarters near the atomic blast's epicenter. Mr. Mori has spent decades identifying these Americans and locating their surviving family members in the United States. With the family's permission, he had the names of each of the 12 airman inscribed in Hiroshima's Register of the Names of the Fallen Atomic Bomb Victims. In July 1998, Mr. Mori placed a memorial plaque to the men on the building that was their prison. It is the only memorial in Hiroshima dedicated to the Americans killed there. 

On May 27, 2016 President Barack Obama became the first sitting president to visit Hiroshima. After the ceremony, the President hugged a tearful Mr. Mori and thanked him for his work on behalf of the American POWs. The image of President Obama and embracing Mr. Mori has come to define friendship and reconciliation between the United States and Japan. 

I welcome Mr. Mori and his wife Kayoko to my district and thank them for their dedication to peace and to making a world free of nuclear weapons. As President Obama said at Hiroshima, ``we have a shared responsibility to look directly into the eye of history and ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again.'' This is what the Moris have done.

N.B. by editor: These airmen would have soon been executed if they had not been killed by the atomic bomb. The most senior among them, 1st. Lt. Thomas Cartwright, pilot of the Lonesome Lady was sent to Tokyo. Since mid-April 1945, Japanese military authorities had ordered that only pilots and senior officers were to be sent to Tokyo for interrogation. Others were to be "suitably disposed of."

See this website UNDER THE ATOMIC BOMB: AMERICAN POWS IN HIROSHIMA for more of the story of the men and their planes. It is a translation of Mr. Mori's book on his quest.

Monday, May 21, 2018

POWS in Hiroshima remembered

May 28th, 2018. MEMORIAL DAY POW PLAQUE UNVEILING IN LOWELL, MA HONORING AMERICAN POWS OF JAPAN. Centralville Veterans dedicate a new plaque honoring the 12 Americans killed in and from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, August 6, 1945. The new memorial joins the nine others in the park, which collectively display the names of over 3,000 service members. Special guests will be Mr. and Mrs. Shigeaki Mori from Japan, the subject of the documentary film, Paper Lanterns, that recounts Mr. Mori’s 35-year quest to identify the American POW aviators who perished and to notify their families. Mr. Mori was the Hiroshima survivor that President Barack Obama hugged at his speech in Hiroshima. The families and friends of two of the POWs he identified--Normand Brissette, U.S. Navy and Ralph Neal, USAAC--will be at the ceremony. The event will begin at 9:00AM. Location: Centralville Memorial Park, 700 Aiken Street, Lowell, MA 01850, at the intersection of Aiken and Ennell Streets, at the foot of Aiken Bridge, MAP  

PAPER LANTERNS: FILM SCREENING. 5/24, 7:00–9:00pm, San Francisco, CA. Sponsor: Asian Art Museum. Speakers: The film’s subject, Mr. Shigeaki Mori, a Japanese historian and atomic bomb survivor, who spent 35 years finding the families of 12 American POWs who perished during the Hiroshima bombing. Location: Asian Art Museum, Samsung Hall, 200 Larkin Street.

PAPER LANTERNS: FILM SCREENING. 5/25, 6:00–7:30pm, Mountain View, CA. Sponsor: Community School of Music and Arts. Speakers: The film’s subject, Mr. Shigeaki Mori, a Japanese historian and atomic bomb survivor, who spent 35 years finding the families of 12 American POWs who perished during the Hiroshima bombing. Location: Community School of Music and Arts, 230 San Antonio Circle.

PAPER LANTERNS: FILM SCREENING. 5/30, 7:30–9:15pm, Boston, MA. Sponsor: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Speakers: The film’s subject, Mr. Shigeaki Mori, a Japanese historian and atomic bomb survivor, who spent 35 years finding the families of 12 American POWs who perished during the Hiroshima bombing. Location: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Harry and Mildred Remis Auditorium (Auditorium 161), Avenue of the Arts, 465 Huntington Avenue.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

If you are on Guam on May 18

click to order book
Book Signing

May 18, 2018, 10:00am-Noon

T. Stell Newman Visitor Center
War in the Pacific
National Historic Park, Guam 

Don A. Farrell, a historian of the Marianas, chronicles the important and often overlooked role Tinian in the Mariana Islands played in the atomic bombing of Japan at the end of World War II. As part of the Manhattan Project, Project Alberta and Operation Centerboard, Tinian was integral in the plan to drop atomic bombs on Japan. The book captures this history as gathered from documents and images held in the National Archives, Record Group 77. The book documents how the Army Corps of Engineers, guided by the Los Alamos Laboratory in cooperation with the US Army Air Forces and the US Navy and its Seabees, constructed facilitates on Tinian capable of assembling and delivering as many atomic bombs as necessary to bring WWII to a successful end without an invasion of the Japanese home islands. As predicted, two atomic bombs, one uranium and one plutonium, were launched from Tinian and dropped in rapid succession, resulting in the unconditional surrender of Japanese military forces.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Bataan Survivor--A book talk May 5

click to order
Dr. Frank Blazich, curator for the Division of Armed Forces History at the National Museum of American History (Smithsonian), will discuss a POW memoir that he edited for publication, Bataan Survivor: A POWs Account of Japanese Captivity in WWII in a talk entitled,  Dapecol: the Davao Penal Colony as Experienced by Col. David L. Hardee on May 5, 2018 at the annual convention of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

2:30pm - Hotel Albuquerque Old Town in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Franciscan Ballroom

Colonel David L. Hardee, drafted his memoir at sea aboard the SS Cape Meares (C1-B) from April-May 1945 following his liberation from Japanese captivity. A career infantry officer, Hardee fought during the Battle of Bataan as executive officer of the Provisional Air Corps Regiment. Surrendered on April 9, 1942, a wounded Hardee survived the Bataan Death March and proceeded to endure a series of squalid prison camps on the Philippines. 

He spent most of his time at "Dapecol"-- an abbreviation for the Davao Penal Colony, a POW farm labor camp on Mindanao. In June 1944, he was sent to Mania to be imprisoned in Bilibid where he was liberated on February 4, 1945.

A debilitating hernia left Hardee too ill to travel to Japan during 1944 with most of the remaining POW officers on the Philippines. He was one of the few lieutenant colonels to remain in the Philippines and subsequently survive the war.

As a primary account written almost immediately after his liberation, Hardee’s memoir is fresh, vivid, and devoid of decades of faded memories or contemporary influences associated with memoirs written years after an experience. This once-forgotten memoir has been carefully edited, illustrated and annotated to unlock the true depths of Hardee’s experience as a soldier, prisoner, and liberated survivor of the Pacific War.

In April 2018, Dr. Blazich made a podcast on the book for the MacArthur Memorial. You can hear it here.