Tuesday, December 16, 2014

In Memorian - Oryoku Maru - December 15, 1944

Two hundred POWs were killed when US planes sunk the Oryoku Maru on December 15, 1944. They were part of a group that was herded onto the ship's dark holds on December 12th who had already endured two years of brutal captivity under the Japanese. Of the approximately 1,619 POWs who had boarded the Oryoku Maru in Manila, the Philippines, 450 survived the voyage to Japan; of those 450 survivors, 161 died in Japanese slave labor camps. Only 271 men of the original 1,619 survived to be liberated in August 1945.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Waiting for Unbroken

On Tuesday, December 9th, NBC Dateline featured a preview of the movie Unbroken about an American Olympian who became a POW of Japan. The TV program focuses on Angelina Jolie the director. The American premiere will be December 15 in Hollywood. There is still time to buy the book by Laura Hillenbrand. The movie will be released throughout the US on Christmas Day.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Remembering Pearl Harbor

After a long absence from both President Bush's and Obama's Pearl Harbor Day proclamations, "Japan" is back in the text. Now Japan is identified as the nation that attacked Pearl Harbor and other American Pacific territories on December 7, 1941. American forgiveness simply emboldened Japan's deniers. Now we wonder how many, if any, American legislators will too remember this day in infamy.

For Immediate Release
December 05, 2014

Presidential Proclamation -- National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, 2014

- - - - - - - 
On the morning of December 7, 1941, Japanese planes thundered over Hawaii, dropping bombs in an unprovoked act of war against the United States.The attack claimed the lives of more than 2,400 Americans.It nearly destroyed our Pacific Fleet, but it could not shake our resolve.While battleships smoldered in the harbor, patriots from across our country enlisted in our Armed Forces, volunteering to take up the fight for freedom and security for which their brothers and sisters made the ultimate sacrifice.On National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, we pay tribute to the souls lost 73 years ago, we salute those who responded with strength and courage in service of our Nation, and we renew our dedication to the ideals for which they so valiantly fought.

In the face of great tragedy at Pearl Harbor -- our first battle of the Second World War -- our Union rallied together, driven by the resilient and unyielding American spirit that defines us.The millions of Americans who signed up and shipped out inspired our Nation and put us on the path to victory in the fight against injustice and oppression around the globe.As they stormed the beaches of Normandy and planted our flag in the sands of Iwo Jima, our brave service members rolled back the tide of tyranny in Europe and throughout the Pacific theater.Because of their actions, nations that once knew only the blinders of fear saw the dawn of liberty.

The men and women of the Greatest Generation went to war and braved hardships to make the world safer, freer, and more just.As we reflect on the lives lost at Pearl Harbor, we remember why America gave so much for the survival of liberty in the war that followed that infamous day.Today, with solemn gratitude, we recall the sacrifice of all who served during World War II, especially those who gave their last full measure of devotion and the families they left behind.As proud heirs to the freedom and progress secured by those who came before us, we pledge to uphold their legacy and honor their memory.

The Congress, by Public Law 103-308, as amended, has designated December 7 of each year as "National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day."

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim December 7, 2014, as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.I encourage all Americans to observe this solemn day of remembrance and to honor our military, past and present, with appropriate ceremonies and activities.I urge all Federal agencies and interested organizations, groups, and individuals to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff this December 7 in honor of those American patriots who died as a result of their service at Pearl Harbor.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifth day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth. 

Sunday, November 02, 2014

In my father’s footsteps on the death railway

Although many memoirs and histories have been written of the POW of Japan experience, few have been consider "literature." The books have not transcended from being a simple record of events to the art of telling a universal cultural tale. This has been in part because few of the stories told have been written with the skill or grace of an Anne Frank or an Elie Wiesel. Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken seems to have begun to fill this void. Hopefully, the related movie to be released this Christmas will provide more art to embed it into the national imagination.

Last month, Richard Flanagan the son of an Australian POW who slaved on the Thai-Burma Death railway was awarded prestigious Man Booker Prize for English Fiction for The Narrow Road to the Deep North. It is a fictionalized account of the building of the Thai-Burma Death railway and living as its survivor.

Unlike Unbroken, it is not about virtue. The book’s hero, a doctor, and one assumes Flanagan too, is not romantic about war. He doesn’t believe that suffering is a kind of grace that lends virtue to the sufferers. Indeed, Evans “hated virtue, hated virtue being admired, hated people who pretended he had virtue or pretended to virtue themselves.” Virtue, he believed, was just “vanity dressed up and waiting for applause.” This book is the next step in embedding the POW story into our national culture.

After slaving on the Burma-Thai Death Railroad, Flanagan's father was shipped to Japan to slave in a coal near Hiroshima on the In-land Sea, Hiroshima #9-B, the Ohama Mine in Onoda. The third book of Australian Ray Parkin's Wartime Trilogy novel of his experience as POW of Japan, The Sword and the Blossom, is an account of moving from the Death Railroad to this mine.

For an excellent analysis of the Flanagan novel, see Ian Buruma in the November 20th New York Review of Books.
To order: http://amzn.to/10cTKsM

Turning his father’s experiences as a Japanese POW into a Booker prize-winning novel became a pilgrimage for Richard Flanagan. Below he writes for the London Times how it took him from the jungles of Thailand and their ghosts to Tokyo, where he met the Lizard, a notorious camp guard. [Richard Flanagan, The Sunday Times (London) Published: 19 October 2014]

Allied prisoners toiling on the railway. (Topham Picturepoint/Press Association)

The Narrow Road to the Deep North is one of the most famous books of all Japanese literature. Written in 1689 by Matsuo Basho, the greatest of all haiku poets, it takes the form of a haibun, a nature journal that records a journey in prose and haiku.

My father was a Japanese prisoner of war, one of those put to work on what in Australia is known as the Death Railway. A pharaonic project, the railway was pushed more than 250 miles through wild jungle in what was then Siam — and is today Thailand — and Burma in less than a year in 1943.

It was built by more than a quarter of a million slave labourers working mostly naked, with almost no machinery and only the most basic of hand tools. Between 100,000 and 200,000 died. More corpses than Hiroshima. More corpses than there are words in my novel.

My father was a survivor of that, of cholera, of the hell ships that took POWs to Japan, of being a slave labourer in a coalmine under the Inland Sea, south of Hiroshima, at the war’s end. If Basho’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North is one of the high points of Japanese culture, my father and his mates’ experience is one of its lowest.

For 12 years I tried to write a novel about that experience and all it suggested to me. And for 12 years other novels came and went as I continued to be unable to write this one. I wrote five wildly different novels attempting somehow to tell this story, all of them failures, all files which I deleted and all manuscripts which I burnt. I understood, although it made no sense, that this was the book I had to write if I was to keep on writing. And yet I could not write it.

Then I realised that my father, by now in his nineties, was growing frail and weak and although there was no logical reason to think such a thing, I felt I had to somehow finish this novel before he died.

Flanagan’s father, Archie, was also a slave labourer in a Japanese coal mine

For a year I visited and called with endless questions about daily life in the camp. What came first, roll call or breakfast? How does a rotting shin bone revealed by a blossoming tropical ulcer smell? What was it like having cholera?

My memories of my father when I was a child are of a sick man, debilitated by his war experience. We grew up with a man of often strange anxieties and deep compassion, whose stories of his POW experiences, while often funny, were compounded of love and pity. But I did not want the book to be about him. As much as his experience and perspective would influence it, I did not want some fictionalised version of his life. As much as it was about my father and me, it had to escape us both.

I went to Thailand and walked up and found the site of my father’s camp, walked that bitter track through the jungle from that camp to what little remained of the railway and the dead, overgrown embankments and cuttings. And I realised that the novel had to be a love story. Why?

Because great love stories seek to demonstrate the great truth about love: that we discover eternity in a moment that dies immediately after. War stories are the great story of death. War illuminates love; while love — if it does not redeem war — is the highest expression of hope, without which any story rings untrue to life.

Friedrich Nietzsche regarded hope as the cruellest of human torments because it prolongs suffering. But it is also the nub of who we are. Not for nothing were the most forsaken in the Nazi death camps the muselmänner, those without hope. Similarly art — when it seeks to speak of darkness but does not allow for hope — will finally fail. Without hope such art is untrue to what we know as a fundamental truth of ourselves.

And I had long been taken by a story my parents were fond of.

A Latvian man they knew, a postwar refugee, caught up in the vast movements of lives that the Second World War had involved, had returned to his home village after the war, to find it razed and his wife, he was told, dead. He searched the wastelands of postwar Europe for her for two years and finally had to accept the truth: that she had perished. He emigrated to Australia, met another woman, married and had children.


In 1957 he visited Sydney. Walking down a crowded street he saw walking towards him his Latvian wife, alive, with a child on either hand. At that moment he had to decide whether he would acknowledge her or walk on.

This beautiful story had always moved me. I started my novel yet again, with this image at its heart. Now it was a love story and its leading character a figure utterly unlike my father — a doctor who is the POW commander in one camp and who, after the war, is celebrated as a war hero but feels himself to be anything but that.

My father worried that people would forget what had happened and he trusted me that I might write something that encouraged people to remember. If my father was helpful with my endless questioning of minute detail, he never asked me what the story was. He allowed me the freedom to write as I have to write.

Yet I felt, rather shamefully, that perhaps I would not be able to finish the novel until he died, as though there was something in all this that held me back.

Towards the end of 2012, with the novel taking its final form, I resolved to visit Japan.

There I searched and found several guards who had worked on the Death Railway. I met a man who had been a Japanese army medical orderly and had been at my father’s camp. It looked, he said, like a Buddhist hell. He recalled skeletons crawling around in the mud. He told me the Australians were very bad with their hygiene. The Japanese took hot baths. The Australians did not. I paid for his tea and taxi home.

Five minutes before meeting another guard who had been on the Death Railway, I realised that he was the one who had been the Ivan the Terrible of my father’s camp, the man the Australians called “the Lizard”. The meeting was to be in the offices of a taxi company owned by his son in outer suburban Tokyo.

The Lizard had been sentenced to death for war crimes after the war. Later he had his death sentence commuted to life imprisonment and then was released in a general amnesty in 1956. He is the only man I have ever heard my father — a gentle, peaceful man — speak of with violent intent.

Lee Hak-rae,  as he is now, was a dignified, gracious and generous old man [Korean Japanese]. Near the end of our meeting I asked him to slap me. Violent face-slapping — known as binta — was the immediate form of punishment in the camps, doled out frequently and viciously.

It was a curious request and the old man took some persuasion. Finally we stood up, facing each other. I asked him to slap me as hard as he could. Of his slaps, I recall only how clean and dry the skin of his aged hand was as it struck me.

On the third blow the taxi office began to shake and toss violently, like a dinghy in a wild sea. For a moment I thought I was going mad. But in one of those coincidences in which reality delights, but fiction — for fear of being unrealistic — is never permitted, a 7.3 Richter scale earthquake had hit Tokyo. For half a minute, as the room swayed and a wall of tossing taxi keys made a shimmering tingle, I saw the Lizard frightened. I saw too that wherever evil is, it was not in that room with that old man and me.

I went south to where my father was a slave labourer and the mayor of Sanyo Onoda city met me in front of television cameras to apologise.  I met villagers who remembered Australians arriving in that terrible winter of late 1944, skeletons in shorts. I met more guards. I was photographed by local media with one guard at the site of the camp where my father thought he would die in the spring of 1945. Below us, where once stood the minehead the POWs would run a gauntlet of sadistic guards to enter, there now stood a love hotel.

It was a bitterly cold day. We put our arms around one another for a photograph. A tiny, frail man, Mr Sato then curled into me in the manner children do when seeking forgiveness. Or perhaps he was just cold. When the photograph was taken, I took my arm away. Mr Sato stayed where he was, curling inwards.

That night I ended up drinking in a Japanese hostess bar with Kenji Yasushige,  the Sanyo Onada city council’s international relations and equal opportunities officer. As Kenji crooned a karaoke ballad to the largely empty bar, one of the hostesses looked at me and, smiling, asked why I was visiting the city.

“My father was a slave labourer here during the war,” I said.

“Really?” she replied, continuing to look at me with her dreamy, anime eyes. “What is slave labourer?”

There is strangeness in the world beyond any words.

My father, who was not a man for such things, rang within a few hours of my returning home. He wanted to know what had happened. He was 98, frail, but his mind was still good, his recall phenomenal. I told him how the Japanese people had been unfailingly kind and generous and how, amazingly, I had met some guards who had been at his camps, including the Lizard. He asked me what they said.

I thought of the earthquake. Of Mr Sato curling inwards. Of the near-empty hostess bar.

I said they talked in detail about all of their lives, except the camps where details seemed to elude them, but that I felt nevertheless that they carried shame, and how each one had expressed their sorrow and apologies for what had happened, and asked me to pass them on to my father.

My father stopped talking. After some time he said he had to go, and hung up.

Later that day my father lost all memory of his time in the POW camps. And yet his pre-war memory remained strong. He knew in an abstract way — as you know you have been in the womb — that he had been in the camps, but no memory remained. It was as though he were finally free.

For the next four months I lived mostly by myself on an island off the coast of Tasmania and I rewrote the novel. I felt I had written all my books in order to write this one book, to somehow communicate the incommunicable.

I emailed the final draft of my novel to my publisher on the Monday before Anzac Day. My father was ill, and I was with him early that morning. He asked how the book was going. I told him it was finally done.

He died that night.

In truth the novel was not quite done. There was some intensive rewriting, as is my way when publication approaches. And I see now what I could not see then, that hanging over it all, shaping everything, were his looming death and the question of love. But you only understand such things — and then only imperfectly — long after you have written the last word.

One thing did not change — the dedication: “To prisoner san byaku san ju go.” It was my father’s Japanese prison number, 335.

He had taught it to me as I was growing up as his son — a child of the narrow road to the deep north.

Friday, October 17, 2014

American POWs of Japan in Japan

At Japan's National Press Club October 15, 2015

5th Delegation of American Former 
POWs of Japan
October 11-20, 2014

 Anthony (Tony) COSTA, 94, lives in Concord, California, the town in which he was born on January 8, 1920.  After graduating from Mt. Diablo High School, he worked in the nearby oil refineries. In December 1939, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps. He became a member of the legendary 4th Marine Regiment, also known as the “China Marines”, stationed in Shanghai on Embassy guard duty. In late November 1941, the China Marines were transferred to Olongapo on The Philippines Islands.  After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, December 7, 1941, the most of the China Marines were moved to Corregidor Island in the Bay of Manila. On reaching Corregidor on 29 December, Pfc Costa was assigned to the newly formed 3d Battalion, Company L to engage in beach defenses until surrender on May 6, 1942. For three weeks, in the tropical sun with little food or water, the Japanese kept the POWs at the 92nd Garage area. Taken to Manila on May 25th, the survivors of Siege of Corregidor were paraded down Dewey Boulevard to Bilibid Prison on what was called the "March of Shamebefore the Filipinos and foreign residents. The following day they were moved by train and foot to the squalid Cabanatuan POW Camp. At Cabanatuan, 2,660 POWs died due to poor sanitation, starvation rations, limited medical care, and abuse.  On November 7, 1942, he was taken by the Hellship Nagato Maru via Formosa to the Japanese port of Moji, the main disembarkation point for most POW transport ships. He arrived by train on November 26th, Thanksgiving Day, in Osaka. He remembers that the rags and loincloths that had been adequate in the Philippines were insufficient for the biting cold found in Japan. The POWs were never given adequate clothing that first winter. With many of the POWs from Nagato Maru, Costa worked for Nippon Express as a slave stevedore in the freight yards in and around the city of Osaka at Umeda Bunsho Camp in Osaka (Osaka 2-D UMEDA). In March 1945, after his POW camp was firebombed, he was transferred to Osaka POW Camp 5-B TSURUGA were he was again a slave stevedore for Nippon Express and Tsuruga Transportation Company. Costa was liberated in September 1945. During the defense of Corregidor, 72 members of the 4th Marines were killed in action. Of the 1,487 members of the 4th Marines captured on the Philippines Islands, 474 died in captivity. Following repatriation, Mr. Costa returned to California where he became a heavy machinery factory worker. In 1949, Mr. Costa built his own house, in which he still lives, and became the construction inspector of his hometown of Concord. He received his Purple Heart and Bronze Star 50 years after the fact, but he is still fighting to receive his back pay for his time as a POW.

Daniel W. CROWLEY, 92, a Connecticut native lives in Simsbury, Connecticut.
In 1940, the age of 18, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps hoping to “take long trip somewhere at the expense of our country. He was sent to The Philippines in January 1941 and stationed in Manila at Nichols Field with the 24th Pursuit Group, V Interceptor Command, 17th Pursuit Squadron. With the start of the war after the after bombing of Pearl Harbor, he was sent to fight on the Bataan Peninsula as part of Provisional Air Corps Infantry Regiment. Although designated as infantry, U.S. Army refuses to this day to recognize the veterans as such and denies them their Combat Infantry badges. After the Bataan Peninsula was surrendered April 9, 1942, his unit made their way to the tip of Bataan and the town of Mariveles to surrender. Refusing to become prisoners, they hide among rocks on the shore and then made their way to Corregidor aboard life boats with sailors from various American ships that had been scuttled in Manila Bay and Mariveles Harbor. On Corregidor he became part of the 4th Marines regimental reserve under Maj. Max Schaeffer working shore defense. On May 6, 1942, he became a POW of Japan with the fall of Corregidor. On May 25th, he and other POWs who were interned in the 92nd Garage Area were paraded through Manila on the “March of Shame.” He was then taken by rail and foot to the POW Camp Cabanatuan. In the summer of 1942, Crowley was sent to the island of Palawan where he labored with other POWs building an airstrip. He was returned to Manila in early 1944. On December 14, 1944, the Japanese, believing an U.S. invasion imminent, herded his friends, the remaining 150 prisoners at Palawan into a shelter, dumped in gasoline, and set them on fire while machine-gunning escapees. Some prisoners did succeed to escape the massacre, but 139 men were killed. Crowley was sent to Japan via Formosa on March 24, 1944 aboard the Hellship, Taikoku Maru arriving April 3rd. He was taken to Hitachi then to Tochigi, Japan where he was a slave laborer mining copper ore for Furukawa Kogyo. (today’s Furukawa Company Group) at Ashio POW Camp Tokyo 9-B until the end of the war. Returning home, Crowley became an insurance agent and raised a family. He says that veterans who were held prisoners of war by the Japanese were stigmatized."Corporations here in the states thought we were nuts," he said. "The majority of us re-joined the Army or worked for the postal service." Crowley believes he enjoyed a good life in Simsbury, but he will never forget the years stolen from him by the Japanese. "It's a living thing with me," he said. "It's not ancient history at all." His most recent efforts to recognize those with whom he served was advocating for the state legislature to name the bridge on Route 185 in Simsbury the “Bataan Corregidor Memorial Bridge” in memory of those soldiers who fought alongside Crowley and who lost their lives at the Battle of Bataan and the Battle of Corregidor. The dedication took place on December 7, 2013.
POW#: 101

Warren JORGENSON, 93, lives in Bennington, Nebraska. He grew up in a small town outside of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. After high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1939 and was stationed in Shanghai by May 1940 with the 4th Marine Regiment, the legendary “China Marines.” They were deployed to the Philippines in November 1941, arriving days before the war began. He was wounded during the defense of Corregidor.. After the surrender of Corregidor on May 6, 1942 he was kept for nearly a year on the Island as a POW laborer and buried the dead. He was moved to Clark Field in 1943 working maintain the air strip. He was sent to Japan on August 27, 1944 aboard the Hellship Noto-Maru. Jorgenson remembers that there was not enough room to even stand up as they were stacked together. The tropical heat created a living hell and then the hatch covers were closed. The hold was airless and the heat unbearable. Sick, starved, and suffocating the POWs had only buckets provided for bathroom facilities. In Japan, he was taken to Sendai #6 (Hanawa) POW camp where he was a slave laborer for Mitsubishi Goushi Company (today’s Mitsubishi Materials) mining cooper ore. The mine closed in 1978 and was turned into a museum, the Osarizawa Mine Historical Site that recounts the 1300-year history of mining the mountain. Visitors can also go through some of the main tunnels. An amusement park and museum were opened in 1982 asMine Land Osarizawa.” In 2008, the site was renovated with the amusement section, Cosmo Adventure [sic], focused on space-themed indoor shooting games. The museum makes no mention of the slave laborers who worked the mine during the war. After repatriation, Mr. Jorgenson received a degree in Commercial Science from Drake University on the G.I. Bill.  He then went on to work in the phonograph music industry first at Capitol Records and then at Musicland.
POW#: 407

Oral C. NICHOLS, 93, lives in Carlsbad, New Mexico.  He is a 1939 graduate of Woodbury College (now Woodbury University) in Burbank, California.  Following graduation, he worked as a bookkeeper and as miner in California. He then joined Morrison-Knudsen, a Boise, Idaho-based construction company that was working to upgrade the airfield on Wake Island in the Pacific. When the war started on December 8, 1941, he participated, as a civilian medic in the legendary defense of Wake Island. For nearly two weeks, a garrison of some 400 Marines and a handful of the 1,500 civilians working on the atoll fought off an invading Japanese armada. It was the only time during the Pacific War that a Japanese amphibious assault was repelled. The battle was a rare example of success in the War's early months. After the island fell on December 23, 1941, the Japanese considered him and all the civilians as prisoners of war. He was sent with the majority of POWs in January 1942 to China. The POWs left on Wake were tasked with finishing the air strip and hard labor. On October 7, 1943, the 98 remaining POWs were bound with barbed wire and machined gunned to death. A lone, still unknown survivor scratched the date on a rock near the massacre. He was tracked down and beheaded. In China, Nichols was first placed at the Woosung Camp  outside of Shanghai. In December 1942, he was moved to Kiangwan another camp in the area. Nichols typing skills garnered him a clerk’s position at Kiangwan’s interpreter’s office. The chief interpreter, Isami Ishihara, was called the Beast of the East as he was exceedingly sadistic and was sentenced to death after the war. Nichols was eventually moved to Japan in May 1945 to Sendai Camp #11 Kamakita near Aomori in Northern Honshu. There he was a slave laborer in an open pit iron mine for Nippon Mining (today’s JX Nippon Mining and Materials). After repatriation, Nichols worked a variety of jobs in California and Arizona before moving back to his family’s ranch in New Mexico. It was not until 1981 that Congress enacted the bill that became a public law granting Nichols and the other civilians on Wake status as war veterans and provided them with honorable discharges and attendant benefits as U.S. Navy veterans.
POW#: 4410 and 4406

William R. “Bill” SANCHEZ, 96, a California native lives in Monterey Park, California. He grew up on the Eastside of Los Angeles.  He went on to study international trade and finance at Woodbury College (now Woodbury University) in Burbank, California and enrolled in graduate classes at the University of Southern California.  Believing that war was on the horizon, in 1940 he enlisted in the U.S. Army and asked to go to The Philippines. "I figured the Philippines is adventure," Sanchez recalled. He became an Army Sergeant with 59th Coast Artillery Regiment, Battery “I” assigned to Corregidor first working intelligence on General Douglas MacArthur’s staff and then harbor defense against the invading Japanese. He remembers he was in combat continually for five months until the island was surrendered on May 6, 1942. Battery “I” was the first to fire on the enemy. After surrender, he and fellow POW Harry Corre appeared in the famous staged photo at the entrance of Malinta Tunnel of the American surrenders with their hands in the air to Japanese forces. He, along with all the Americans captured on Corregidor, was forced to billet for three weeks at the 92nd Garage area on island with no protection from the sun and little food or water before they were moved to the main island. In Manila, the Japanese forced the survivors of Siege of Corregidor onto what is now called the "March of Shamea “parade” through Manila from Dewey Boulevard to Bilibid Prison. From there, he was taken to the POW camp at Cabanatuan.  Sanchez was among the first group of POWs moved to Japan. Deep in the cramped and fifthly hold of Hellship the Tottori Maru, Sanchez began his voyage to Japan on October 8, 1942. The ship traveled to Formosa, then Korea, and finally arrived in Moji, Japan on November 11th.   In Japan, he was sent to Omori Tokyo Base Camp #1 work on reclaiming land.  Sanchez also worked as a slave stevedore for Nippon Tsuun (today’s Nippon Express) at the railway yards in Tokyo. Returning home, he worked for various companies in international trade. His work found him returning to Japan several times. He is an avid Los Angeles Angels baseball fan.
Library of Congress Veterans History Project:  http://lcweb2.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/bib/66895

Jack W. SCHWARTZ, 98, lives in Hanford, California. He graduated from Hollywood High School when he was 15 years old.  At the California Institute of Technology, he earned both his BA and MS degrees in civil engineering. He worked at various engineering jobs until joining the U.S. Navy in 1940 as a lieutenant junior grade in the Civil Engineering Corps. After Schwartz’s first Navy assignment at Pearl Harbor, he was transferred to Guam in January 1941. On Guam, he was a Public Works officer, in charge of maintenance and inspecting new construction. The Japanese Navy attacked Guam several hours after Pearl Harbor on December 8, 1941. The Battle of Guam lasted barely two days with the tiny Marine and Navy garrison quickly overwhelmed by Japan’s invading forces. On 10 December 1941, Guam became the first American territory formally surrendered to an enemy in WWII. One month later, Schwartz and most of the officers on Guam were boarded aboard Mitsui’s passenger ship Argentina Maru and transported to the Japanese port of Tadotsu on the island of Shikoku. Arriving in Japan on January 16, 1942, he was taken to the Zentsuji POW Camp about 400 miles west of Tokyo. During WWII, it held mainly officers plus enlisted ranks from Guam & Wake Island. It was used by the Japanese as a “show camp” for the Red Cross with marginally better conditions than others. At the camp, he was repeatedly beaten and put on reduced rations for asking camp officials for better food and medical supplies. Officers did not have to work and he passed his time doing calculus problems and macramé. Enlisted POWs at the camp were slave stevedores for Nippon Express (still in operation under the same name) at the Sakaide Rail Yards and the Port of Takamatsu. In September 1942, he was transferred to Tokyo 2B Kawasaki (Mitsui Madhouse). Again, as an officer, he was not required to work and did not participate in the slave stevedore work at the camp. However, he was the senior officer and thus was in charge of recording work hours and pay (most of which was never distributed). He was returned to Zentsuji in August of 1944. The camp was dismantled and he was sent in June 1945 to do subsistence farming at POW Camp 11-B Rokuroshi (Camp Mallette) in the Japanese Alps. With severely restricted rations, overcrowding, and no winter clothes, all the men at the camp were convinced that they would not survive the winter. Hidden in the mountains, the POW camp was not liberated until September 8, 1945. After the war, Schwartz remained in the Navy, retiring in 1962. In Hanford, California he was Public Works Director and City Engineer for 18 years.  Since retiring in 1980, Schwartz has been on many city and county work groups, including eight years as a City Planning Commissioner and five years on the Kings County Grand Jury.
POW#: 171

Darrell D. STARK, 91, lives in Stafford Springs, Connecticut. He grew up in a large migrant labor family in Oklahoma and joined the U.S. Army when he was 17 on March 5, 1941. He was assigned to the 31st Infantry Regiment United States, M company and was immediately sent to the Philippines Islands aboard the USAT Republic. He did his basic training on the Philippines where he was assigned to a heavy weapons company and was a weapons carrier and runner. With the Japanese invasion of The Philippines on December 8, 1941, the 31st Infantry covered the withdrawal of American and Filipino forces to the Bataan Peninsula. Despite starvation, disease, no supplies, obsolete weapons, and often dud ammunition, the peninsula’s defenders fought the Japanese to a standstill for four months. On April 9, 1942, Bataan was surrendered to Japan. At the time, Stark was delirious with malaria in Bataan Hospital #2. He did not participate in the 65-mile Bataan Death March and was instead transported by truck to Bilibid Prison in Manila. From there, he was eventually sent to Cabanatuan. Stark was soon sent to work in the Davao Penal Colony, a prison camp on the southern Philippines island of Mindanao, where he and 2,000 other prisoners farmed 1,000 acres of rice and 600 acres of fruits and vegetables. Japan closed the camp on Mindanao in late spring of 1944. On July 4, 1944 Stark was sent to Japan with 1,024 Allied POWs aboard the Hellship Sekiho Maru (also known as the Canadian Inventor or the Mati Mati Maru or slow slow ship). After 62 days, and stops in Formosa and Japan, the freighter arrived at the Japanese port of Moji on September 1, 1944. From there, he was sent to Nagoya #5-B Yokkaichi POW camp where became a slave laborer at a copper foundry owned by Ishihara Sangyo Kaisha in Nagoya, a port city south of Tokyo. Much of the work involved melting down bells seized from churches. Other Allied POW slave laborers at this POW camp mined coal or manufactured sulfuric acid for the company. The Yokkaichi facility and company, Ishihara Sangyo Kaisha (ISK), where Stark slaved still exists. After an earthquake in May 1945, the POWs were moved to Nagoya-07B-Toyama to work as slave laborers for Nihon Sotatsu (Nippon Soda Company. Ltd.). He was liberated on September 5, 1945. Stark returned to the United States and spent 18 months in a San Francisco hospital recovering from disease and injuries. According to Army records, roughly half of his regiment, 1,155 men, died in captivity. He moved to Connecticut working several jobs until he became Deputy Jailer for Tolland County. He went on to become a Captain with the State of Connecticut Department of Corrections, where he set up the Department’s Correctional Transportation Unit (CTU). Since his retirement in 1972, he has spoken widely to students about the history of the defense of the Philippines and to veterans who suffer, like him, from PTSD.
POW#:  563
Library of Congress Veterans History Project: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/bib/11216

Friday, September 19, 2014

National POW/MIA Recognition Day - 2014

Presidential Proclamation --- National POW/MIA Recognition Day, 2014

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America's history shines with patriots who have answered the call to serve.  From Minutemen who gathered on a green in Lexington to a great generation that faced down Communism and all those in our military today, their sacrifices have strengthened our Nation and helped secure more than two centuries of freedom.  As our Armed Forces defend our homeland from new threats in a changing world, we remain committed to a profound obligation that dates back to the earliest days of our founding -- the United States does not ever leave our men and women in uniform behind.  On National POW/MIA Recognition Day, we express the solemn promise of a country and its people to our service members who have not returned home and their families:  you are not forgotten.
My Administration remains dedicated to accounting as fully as possible for our Nation's missing heroes, lost on battlefields where the sounds of war ceased decades ago and in countries where our troops are deployed today.  Whether they are gone for a day or for decades, their absence is felt.  They are missed during holidays and around dinner tables, and their loved ones bear this burden without closure.  Americans who gave their last full measure of devotion deserve to be buried with honor and dignity, and those who are still unaccounted for must be returned to their families.  We will never give up our search for them, and we will continue our work to secure the release of our citizens who are unjustly detained abroad.  Today, we acknowledge that we owe a profound debt of gratitude to all those who have given of themselves to protect our Union and our way of life, and we honor them by working to uphold this sacred trust.
On September 19, 2014, the stark black and white banner symbolizing America's Missing in Action and Prisoners of War will be flown over the White House; the United States Capitol; the Departments of State, Defense, and Veterans Affairs; the
Selective Service System Headquarters; the World War II Memorial; the Korean War Veterans Memorial; the Vietnam Veterans Memorial; United States post offices; national cemeteries; and other locations across our country.  We raise this flag as a solemn reminder of our obligation to always remember the sacrifices made to defend our Nation.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 19, 2014, as National POW/MIA Recognition Day.  I urge all Americans to observe this day of honor and remembrance with appropriate ceremonies and activities. 
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this  eighteenth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.