While in Japan, both men joined with members of the delegation to speak to students at Temple University in Tokyo on October 5, 2017. Below is a video of the presentation as well as profiles of their fathers. Never forgotten.
CHARLES D. BROWN
Joseph Brown, 75, the youngest son of the late Charles D. Brown lives in Temecula, California. He was born in Manila on March 3, 1942 in the midst of the Japanese invasion of the Philippines. He is a Vietnam veteran with a career in law enforcement who has participated 13 times in the White Sands, New Mexico Bataan Memorial Death March and attended this year’s 75th anniversary ceremonies in the Philippines for the Bataan Death March. He carries with him a bracelet his father crafted for his first birthday while in POW camp on the Philippines.
Charles D. Brown was born June 6, 1903 in Monterey, Mexico while his father was a doctor for the Mexican National Railway. The family returned to Brownsville, Texas where he attended high school and worked in a number of clerical positions before enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1932. Sent to the Philippines, Brown was assigned to the 31st Infantry Regiment, stationed at Fort Santiago with the regimental headquarters in Manila. By 1941, the 25th anniversary of the regiment, he was a Staff Sergeant and a member of the Color Guard.
In April 1937, he married Lolita Penabella, a Spanish citizen whose family were residents of Manila. They had four children with the youngest, Joseph, born three months after the war started. Brown last saw his pregnant wife and three children—Loretta, Charles and Elizabeth—on December 26, 1941. At the war’s start, he was promoted to Warrant Officer and was part of the 31st Infantry’s planned defense of U.S. forces’ withdrawal into the Bataan Peninsula.
On April 9, 1942, Major General Edward King surrendered the peninsula to Japanese forces. This was the start of the 65-mile Bataan Death March of over 75,000 sick and starving American and Filipino POWs up from the tip of Bataan to the train junction at San Fernando. In the words of Colonel Harold W. Glattly, the chief Luzon Force surgeon, the men were “patients rather than prisoners.” This ordeal compounded by the guards withholding water, food, and rest while randomly beating, stabbing, and murdering the men extended the transfer north from days into weeks.
At San Fernando, the survivors received a bowl of rice each and some water, before being jammed standing into unventilated boxcars for a 24-mile journey into the Tarlac Province. From the station, the dazed men walked another 3.5 miles to Camp O’Donnell. Including the men, who died in the boxcars, as many as 650 Americans and 5,000 to 10,000 Filipinos perished on the March. Camp O’Donnell was a half-completed training camp for Philippine Army recruits. Its bamboo and nipa structures had unfinished roofs and unconnected water pipes. No utilities had been installed, and the septic system was only partially complete. Situated in the barren piedmont of the Zambales Mountains, the camp was surrounded by a heavy growth of mosquito-infested cogon grass. Here the over 10,000 American and 50,000 Filipino survivors of the Death March endured days of burning sun without adequate food, water, or medicine. It is estimated that 1,550 Americans and 22,000 Filipinos died at Camp O’Donnell, the overwhelming majority within the first eight weeks.
After most Americans were moved from Camp O’Donnell to Camp Cabanatuan in June 1942, Brown he and others did agricultural slave labor. On his son’s first birthday, he crafted him a bracelet from an aluminum scrap that he inscribed, “J.W. Brown, Daddy 3-3-43.” He gave it to Fr. Theodore (Padre Doro) Buttenbruch SVD, the first priest of The Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, who was working with his wife to smuggle money, tobacco, and medicine to the POWs. The bracelet was successfully delivered. Fr. Buttenbruch, however, was eventually caught by the Kempeitai and executed.
On October 11, 1944, he and 1,781 other prisoners were loaded into two holds of the Mitsui-built “Hell ship” Arisan Maru. To avoid air raids, the freighter first sailed south from Manila to Palawan and then back. The Arisan Maru left Manila October 21 in convoy of seven ships for Formosa and Japan. On October 24th, some 225 miles from Formosa in the Bashi Strait, the convoy was attacked by three submarine wolfpacks. It is believed that the Arisan Maru was torpedoed and sunk by either the USS Shark II (SS-314) or the USS Snook (SS-279). The Japanese guards cut the rope ladders to the holds. The abandoned men eventually found their way to the deck only to drown in the choppy, cold water. Sailors from nearby Japanese destroyers clubbed and machine-gunned American survivors in the water and the ships deliberately pulled away from the men struggling to reach them. In all, there were 1,773 POW casualties. A Japanese freighter later picked up four survivors. Another five managed to find an abandoned lifeboat, a sail, a water barrel, and a box of hardtack. Miraculously, they navigated to China and Chinese guerrillas who brought them to American forces in Kunming.
Brown’s wife and four children were considered Spanish citizens, and thus, never interned during the war. They survived the Battle of Manila and sailed to the United States in September 1945 aboard the USS Admiral E. W. Eberle (AP-123) to Tacoma, Washington. Following Charles Brown’s wishes, the family went to Horton, Kansas to live with his sister Bessie.
A memorial marker to Warrant Officer Brown is in the Miramar National Cemetery, San Diego California. His name is also engraved upon the Walls of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery.
Philippines POW#: 1-7548
Congressman: Duncan Hunter (R-CA 50th)
COLLIN B. WHITEHURST, Jr.,
John Collin Whitehurst, 76, the only child of the late Collin B. Whitehurst, was born October 28, 1940 in Manila. His mother Rose and he were evacuated from the Philippines with other military families on May 5, 1941 and he has lived mostly in Texas since 1942. He worked as an accountant before finding his true passion in social work. He has attended American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society conventions since 2002 and is currently on their Board of Directors. He has returned to the Philippines twice, in 2002 and in January 2006 when he attended the dedication of the Hell Ship Memorial at Subic Bay.
Collin B. Whitehurst, Jr. was born on February 3, 1914 in Richmond, Virginia. He grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio graduating from Hughes High School in 1932. He attended the University of Cincinnati, but in 1934 received an appointment to the U. S. Military Academy at West Point. At the Academy, he was in the Chapel Choir all four years, the Glee Club for one year, Manager of Goat Football for two years, and a Pistol Marksman. He enjoyed West Point and graduated 300 out of 301. His first assignment after graduation in 1938 was to Fort Thomas, Kentucky, with Headquarters Company, 10th Infantry Regiment. In December 1939, he married an officer’s daughter, Rose Eva Knuebel, daughter of Colonel and Mrs. John H. Knuebel. They sailed for the Philippines in June 1940.
First stationed at Fort McKinley near Manila, he was assigned to 45th Infantry Regiment, Philippine Scouts. At the end of August 1941, Whitehurst was sent temporarily to the 81st Infantry Regiment, Philippine Army, as an instructor on Bohol, an island province of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas. Later that fall, he was with the Ninth Military District on Leyte supervising inter-island shipping. Promoted to Major on December 19, 1941, after the war began, he was assigned to the staff of the Commanding General of the Visayan-Mindanao Force, Major General William F. Sharp on Mindanao.
General Sharp, with great reluctance and under the threat of a massacre of all the POWs on Corregidor, surrendered his forces on Mindanao on May 10, 1942. Upon surrender, Whitehurst entrusted his West Point ring to Rev. J. E. Haggerty who was the Headquarters Chaplain. Haggerty reverted to civilian status and served as chaplain to recognized guerilla forces under the legendary Colonel Wendell W. Fertig. Haggerty returned the ring to Whitehurst’s widow after the war.
Whitehurst and the POWs on Mindanao were first kept at Camp Casisang south of Malaybalay and then to the Davao Penal Colony #502 (DAPECOL). During the 21 months Whitehurst was imprisoned at Davao, he became close friends with the acting Episcopalian chaplain, Capt. John J. Morrett (d. 2011). Together, they organized and trained a choir for religious services that helped lift the spirits of the camp.
In June 1944, some 1,200 of the Davao Penal Colony POWs were moved to Manila for dispersal to other work sites on Luzon or in Japan. Whitehurst was briefly held at Bilibid Prison and then at Cabanatuan where he was again doing agriculture labor. On October 11, 1944, he and 1,781 prisoners were loaded into two holds of the Mitsui-built “Hell ship” Arisan Maru. The holds, with one holding some coal, were so small that the men first had to stand. Room was created by the deaths of men from heat and disease. To avoid air raids, the freighter first sailed south from Manila to Palawan and then back. The Arisan Maru finally left Manila on October 21 in a convoy of seven ships for Formosa and Japan. On October 24, some 225 miles from Formosa in the Bashi Strait the convoy was attacked by three American submarine wolfpacks. It is believed that the Arisan Maru was torpedoed and sunk possibly by either the USS Shark II (SS-314) or the USS Snook (SS-279). The Japanese guards cut the rope ladders to the holds. The abandoned men eventually found their way to the deck only to drown in the choppy, cold water. Sailors from nearby Japanese destroyers clubbed and machine-gunned American survivors in the water and the ships deliberately pulled away from the men struggling to reach them. In all, there were 1,773 POW casualties and only nine survivors.
Following his liberation, Major General William F. Sharp, commander, Visayan-Mindanao Force, wrote to Whitehurst’s parents: “Your son was a fine, loyal officer who did excellent work while serving with my Command. He was always cheerful and willing; he made a lasting impression on all with whom he came into contact. Collin’s spirit never wavered during the long months of his imprisonment. We few still living who knew him cherish his memory.”
The Whitehurst family on October 25, 2004, 60 years and a day after Major Collin Whitehurst’s death on the Arisan Maru, dedicated a memorial marker in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery commemorating his life and service. His name is also engraved on the Walls of the Missing in the Manila American Cemetery.
Philippines POW#: 2-0235s
Congressman: Joaquin Castro (D-TX 20th)