Saturday, September 08, 2018

Why McCain and all POWs deserve our profound respect and gratitude

Painting by Australian POW Murray Griffin


by Joan Cook, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Yale University, The Conversation, August 28, 2018

On Saturday, John McCain, the U.S. Republican senator from Arizona, a war hero and two-time presidential contender, died. As remembrances of him pour out, let us not focus on partisan politics and which political party currently favored him more.

As a trauma psychologist who has spent the past 20 years working with combat veterans and former prisoners of war, I implore my fellow Americans to say our goodbyes to this American hero in a very different way. As Senator McCain, a man who was held prisoner of war for five-and-a-half years in Vietnam, lost his battle to brain cancer, let us take this opportunity to open our hearts and minds to the men and women who serve in uniform, particularly the diminishing number of former POWs.
Horrors we cannot knowU.S. Army Master Sgt. Finley J. Davis was captured Dec. 1, 1950 in the Korean Conflict. His remains were identified only recently, on Aug. 8, 2017 and were buried in North Charleston, S.C., April 19, 2018. U.S. Department of Defense, via AP

I have had the privilege of clinically working with dozens of former POWs, typically combatants who were taken hostage and held by an enemy power during World War II, the Korean Conflict or the Vietnam War. What many Americans may not know or remember is that fewer combatants are taken hostage nowadays. The reasons for this are many, including the changing nature of combat, such as the lower ability on our enemies’ part to use large amounts of mortar, artillery fire and airstrikes. Compared to World War II, where the number of POWs was over 100,000, the Vietnam War had relatively few, with fewer than 800 Americans known to have been held captive. But when you work with a POW and hear what he went through while in captivity, and the long-standing effects post-captivity, you realize that one is too many.

These men were cut off from the life they used to know, the comforts of home and the arms of their loved ones. They also suffered severe and extended exposure to captivity trauma. The tactics commonly used by captors are isolation, deprivation, abuse and interrogation. Most U.S. POWs were treated very harshly, but imperial Japan, the North Koreans, Chinese and the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong were particularly brutal. Our men, and sometimes women, were actively beaten and tortured. They were forced to stand or kneel for hours and sometimes days on end. They were denied and deprived of food, water and medical care. They were threatened with death and had to see and hear their fellow soldiers being tortured. These men had their arms and leg bound by ropes, ratchet handcuffs, leg irons or stocks, and were stretched for long periods of time. Can you imagine the physical pain and the emotional terror?

And, on top of that, they felt profound loneliness and humiliation.

Understandably, these men were in a hurry to return home. Hardly any received reintegration or rehabilitation upon release. And, the results of their captivity trauma followed them. The lifelong effects of captivity cannot be overstated. The consequences of being a former POW are extensive and well-documented.

These men often have neuropsychological, psychiatric, medical and social difficulties. Their problems include memory deficits, decreased ability to concentrate, gruesome nightmares, interrupted sleep cycles and an exaggerated startle response. Not surprisingly, they have much higher rates of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder than the general population.

They also have higher rates of chronic physical health disorders, particularly those of the peripheral nervous system, joints and back, and an increased rate of peptic ulcers. Because of the physical punishment or treatment with torture devices or procedures, they can also have long-lasting moderate to severe pain. How they live with these long-lasting effects is nothing short of remarkable.
Ongoing effectsA veteran marches in a United War Veterans Council parade on Veterans Day, 2016, in New York City. Glynnis Jones/Shutterstock.com

The enduring and painful psychological toll can also have an impact on their interpersonal relations and the lives of their spouses and children. Former Vietnam War POWs are more likely to divorce, have shorter marriages and have wives with lower marital satisfaction than Vietnam-era service members who did not experience captivity. It makes sense that POWs have greater impairments in connecting with others and a harder time with emotional and sexual intimacy.

Former POWs also have higher rates of verbal and physical aggressiontoward their partners. Many men I have treated over the years have talked about walking point around the perimeter of their homes because of concern that they or their loved ones might be attacked. Some go so far as to sleep with weapons under their pillows. Imagine having a partner with such afflictions.

Now it’s true that some of these men did not experience resulting emotional distress. Most did, however: some with continuous troubles and others with a waxing and waning of difficulties over their lifespan.

I’ve never had the fortune to meet John McCain or had an opportunity to directly assess his mental health. But he talked about his struggles rather candidly at times. And others have commented that he seemed most engaged when he was outraged, perhaps an effect of his captivity.

It doesn’t take a psychologist to tell you while McCain was incredibly resilient, there was also enormous pain. How can people know this about Senator McCain and our nation’s service members and not feel for them, not put ourselves in their shoes for just a second, imagine their agony, show them the respect they deserve and profoundly appreciate their sacrifice? At his passing, I ask other Americans to join me in saying, “Thank you, Senator McCain for serving our country with distinction and honor. America was better for your presence. Rest well, Old Soldier.”

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Hawaii marker to honor hundreds of WWII prisoners of war

LuDan Crowley
POW recounts the inhumanity of Imperial Japan

By WYATT OLSON
STARS AND STRIPES, August 16, 2018

Daniel Crowley often repeats two words as he recounts his experience as a prisoner of war being shipped from the Philippines to Japan in 1944: nightmare and lucky.

“The hellships were nightmarish,” said the 96-year-old. As the Allies prepared to retake the Philippines after more than three years of Japanese occupation, POWs were marched to ports to be shipped to the Japanese mainland. Hundreds of men would be crammed together in the deepest bowels of the ships in sweltering heat and little or no ventilation.

“They would prod you in the ass with their bayonets and force you down into the deepest ‘dragoons’ until they packed human beings so tightly that you couldn’t turn around, sit down, lie down,” Crowley said. “You just sat in the [feces]. It’s beyond your worst nightmare.”

The guards’ “idea of a humane gesture,” he said, was to let a few men each day carry buckets of feces and urine to the top deck and dump it over the side of the Taikoku Maru. “And throw dead bodies over the side,” he said. “They definitely allowed that every day.”

“But actually, I was lucky,” Crowley said, noting that the ship made it to Japan intact in a relatively fast 17 days. Other hellships took many more weeks and were frequently targets of Allied submarines and carrier aircraft because they were not marked as carrying POWs.
Death march

For Crowley and all the other American POWs in the Philippines, the hellships were just one scene from a three-year tribulation steeped in death, deprivation and depravity.

The youngest of six brothers, Crowley was stationed in the Philippines in the spring of 1941 as a private in the U.S. Army Air Corps and worked on servicing aircraft.

With the outbreak of war with Japan that December, he and everyone else in uniform “all turned into infantry grunts,” defending the island with mostly World War I-era weapons.

Four months later, about 78,000 American and Filipino troops made a final stand with their backs against the sea at the tip of Bataan Peninsula. Crowley was among them.

On April 9, 1942, Maj. Gen. Edward King Jr., surrendered those troops, and they were led away on the infamous and deadly Bataan Death March.

Crowley, however, jumped into the sea at night and swam to Corregidor Island, about three miles off the tip of Bataan, which was still held by the U.S. Marines. He fought there until May 6, when Gen. Jonathan Wainwright surrendered. The POWs were marched through the streets of Manila escorted by young Japanese officers on horseback with drawn swords, Crowley said.

At the end of the march, they were loaded into railroad boxcars, where they were crammed together standing for what was about an eight-hour trip.

“Most everyone was suffering from diarrhea,” he said. “Between the urine and the [feces], we were wallowing in it. The floor of the car became a pestilence.

“That was probably the most horrible thing and all those years of incarceration — wallowing in the human waste,” he said.

‘Known mess’

Crowley ended up in a POW camp near the city of Cabanatuan, about 70 miles north of Manila.

“The death rate got to be astronomical,” he said. “Those who were dying were thrown under the barracks to lie in the dirt. That was called the ‘zero ward,’ meaning you weren’t going to come out of there alive.”

With the “known mess” he was in, Crowley said he jumped at the chance to join a work detail that was sent to the southern Philippine island of Palawan, where he spent a year and a half building a runway from jungle using nothing but axes, picks and shovels.

They survived on what was roughly 600 calories a day in the form of rice soup.

“The body stabilizes after a while, and all those who are going to die quickly, die quickly,” he said. “So the death rate was at horrendous levels in the first two months. After about six months, weak from the lack of nutrition and water under the brutal slave labor, you were a living skeleton.

“If you didn’t jump and work your ass off when you were ordered to, they’d just beat you to death if they wanted to. At the very least they’d beat you to pulp.”

“My beard was down to my waist,” he said. “My hair was hanging over my shoulders. My skin was burned black from the sun.”

He feigned insanity, and with the appearance to match it, the work camp’s doctor eventually deemed him “unfit for labor,” Crowley said with a laugh.

Others found a more painful way out of hard labor. He recalled that a guy from Long Island would use a metal bar to break the arms of the willing.

“These fellows would put their arm down on the stump, and he’d shatter it with his metal bar,” he said. “That was 10 cigarettes he charged.”

‘American slaves’

In March 1944, Crowley was shipped to the Japanese mainland where he worked in two separate copper mines, the last one 2,000 feet below the surface.

“We were slaves at the Furukawa copper mine,” he said, recalling the sadistic pleasure the controller of the cable and winch seemed to get in letting the bucket filled with men freefall for 1,900 feet before it careened to a stop.

He recalled walking through waist-deep snow to the wooden hut they were housed in outside the mine.

“They would give us two or three fist-sized clumps of charcoal to heat the whole wooden structure where hundreds of slaves were packed in — American slaves,” he said.

How did Crowley cope with such conditions for long without losing hope?

“I simply believe I was blessed by a strong father with the strong mind who imparted some of his genes to me so that I could make it,” he said. “I just pretended it was normal to get in that bucket with about 20, 25 other people and drop at an alarming rate for brutal slave labor. Every day was a new milestone. It actually got to the point where it was the normal way to live.”

But he also fixated on fantasies of vengeance, with thoughts of making the “sons of bitches pay if I could someday,” he said.

Crowley has had a good life since he was liberated, married 65 years to his first wife with whom he had two children. Living in Connecticut, he remarried recently, and his wife, Kelley, 42 years younger than him, admits that she has a hard time keeping up with him. He laughs often and jokes frequently.

But he will not make peace with his old enemy.

“I couldn’t forgive,” he said. “How could I forgive?"

Monday, August 27, 2018

In memoriam Senator John McCain POW

McCain Memorial in Hanoi
Senator John McCain faced adversity with dignity and honesty. As a POW, he knew the depths of inhumanity as well as the raw joy from an act of kindness. His POW experience sharpened his moral compass and gave him the resolve to stand firm where others would not. I send the heartfelt sympathies of the American POWs of Japan, their descendants, and the members of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society to his wife Cindy and the entire McCain family, and our thanks to God for the life of John McCain.

fac fortia et patere 
[do brave deeds and endure]

Statement August 26, 2018

Ms. Jan Thompson 
President
American Defenders of Bataan & Corregidor Memorial Society
Daughter of PhM2c Robert E. Thompson USN, USS Canopus (AS-9)
Survivor of Corregidor, Bilibid, Oryoku Maru, Enoura Maru, 
Brazil Maru, Fukuoka 3B & Mukden
POW# 2011

The ADBC-MS is the only sanctioned successor to the original American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor organization formed by surviving POWs of Japan in 1946. The mission is to preserve the legacy of the American POWs held in the Pacific during World War II.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Fathers Found, Fathers Honored

unknowns no more

On Wednesday, August 15th at 1:00pm at the Courts of Honor in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl), Honolulu, Hawaii the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society (ADBC-MS) will dedicate a long over-due memorial stone.

The stone recognizes the 400 prisoners of war (POWs) of Imperial Japan who died January 1945 aboard two Japanese hellships, Enoura Maru and Brazil Maru, docked in Takao Harbor, Formosa [Taiwan]. These servicemen and mariners are now buried as “Unknowns” among 20 graves in the Punchbowl.

This will be the first time for the men to be named and honored.

The POWs in the graves, in addition to Americans, include servicemen from Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Norway, and what is now the Czech Republic. They were among thousands captured by the Japanese in the Philippines in 1942. These men were being transported to Japan as hostages or slave laborers in the holds of unmarked ships whose conditions were so abysmal that they were known as “hellships.”

On January 9, 1945, planes from the carrier USS Hornet bombed the freighter Enoura Maru unaware of the Allied POWs aboard. The bombing killed approximately 300 POWs; another 100, aboard both hellships, died of starvation and disease. These 400 were buried in a mass grave near the harbor.

click to order
In 1946, the U.S. military retrieved the remains and sent them to Hawaii for re-interment. Unfortunately, the families of the men who were thought to be in these graves were never informed of either the retrieval or interment. In 2001, the son of one of the dead, Duane Heisinger, discovered in the National Archives the fate of his father and the 400.


It has taken until now for the families and friends of these fallen to fully acknowledge and memorialize their service and deaths.

The new stone on the Memorial Walk at the Punchbowl thus reminds us of the sacrifice made by these POWs, while establishing that they have returned home to American soil.

Governor of Hawaii David Y. Ige has proclaimed August 15, 2018 Pacific Heroes Day in their honor.

The Memorial ceremony will be live-streamed on the ADBC-MS Facebook page.

The program will end with a fly-over of a Globe Swift by Honolulu’s Vintage Aviation. A former POW of Japan, Dan Crowley, who fought on Bataan and Corregidor and survived a hellship to Japan plans to attend the event.

The ADBC-MS welcomes everyone in Hawaii to join in the memorial service.

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
Miramar 
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.