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.

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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
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:

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 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

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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.

Paper Lanterns - POWs in Hiroshima

Paper Lanterns Trailer from barry frechette on Vimeo.

New Mexico Screening

Saturday, May 5, 2018


Franciscan Ballroom
800 Rio Grande Blvd. NW
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Free and Open to the Public

Screening is part of the annual convention of the 

Award winning documentary (60 minutes) on the quest of a Hiroshima survivor to discover the identities and honor the memory of the 12 American POWs who were killed in the bombing of Hiroshima

Friday, April 27, 2018

POW Convention May 3-5 in New Mexico

May 3-5 in Albuquerque, NM
A leading voice for Pacific War veterans and their families, the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor MemorialSociety (ADBC-MS)/, holds its annual convention Thursday, May 3 through Saturday, May 5 at the Hotel Albuquerque Old Town in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Convention features a panel discussion with former POWs and family members who traveled to Japan last year as guests of the Japanese government. There will also be presentations on the Texas Lost Battalion, a Texas National Guard unit surrendered on Java in early 1942, on the life of a New Mexico survivor of the Bataan Death March, and on the fate of 19 members the 27th Bomb Group, who evaded capture on Bataan by hiding in the Filipino jungles.
Keynote speakers will be Dr. Frank Blazich, curator for the Division of Armed Forces History at the National Museum of American History (Smithsonian), discussing his new book, Bataan Survivor, in a talk entitled, Dapecol: the Davao Penal Colony as Experienced by Col. David L. Hardee and Major General NM Kenneth A. Nava, The Adjutant General, New Mexico National Guard. Two New Mexico National Guard units, the 515th Coast Artillery and the 200th Coast Artillery, fought in the defense the Philippine Islands.
Free and open to the public will be a screening on Saturday, May 5 at 2:30pm of Paper Lanterns (60 minutes), an award winning documentary on the quest of a Hiroshima survivor to discover the identities and honor the memory of the 12 American POWs who were killed in the bombing of Hiroshima.
The ADBC-MS promotes education and scholarship about the POW experience in the Pacific and supports programs of reconciliation and understanding.  The ADBC-MS is the point of contact for all official U.S. government activities affecting American POWs of Japan, such as the annual Japan/POW Friendship visits to Japan and the annual White House Veterans Breakfast.
Over 26,000 Americans were POWs of Imperial Japan. Nearly 11,000 died in POW camps, aboard “hell ships,” or as slave laborers to Japanese companies. Only an estimated 15,000 returned home.

POWs speak to Congress


to the

Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee

Hearing on the Fiscal Year 2019 Budget for Veterans’ Programs

and Fiscal Year 2020 Advance Appropriations Requests




Jan Thompson


American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society

21 March 2018


Chairmen Isakson, Ranking Member Tester, and Members of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, thank you for allowing us to present the unique concerns of veterans of World War II’s Pacific Theater to Congress. The American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society (ADBC-MS) represents surviving POWs of Japan, their families, and descendants, as well as scholars, researchers, and archivists. Our goal is to preserve the history of the American POW experience in the Pacific and to teach future generations of the POWs’ sacrifice, courage, determination, and faith—the American spirit.

Today, I want to speak to you about how integral the American POW history with Japan is to our greater understanding of how we need to care for and remember all our veterans. These veterans had the highest rate of post-conflict hospitalizations and psychiatric disorders of any generation. Their traumas have had multi-generational consequences. Their history of perseverance and patriotism speaks to the need for the civic remembrance of our country’s veterans.

Our history
April 9th will mark the 76th anniversary of the Bataan Death March. By March 1942, Imperial Japanese Armed forces had destroyed the U.S. Asiatic Fleet and the U.S. Far East Air Force. On May 6, 1942, all the Philippines fell. These were the greatest military setbacks in American history and all happened in Asia where Imperial Japan started WWII for the United States.

On December 7, 1941, Imperial Japan attacked not only Pearl Harbor but also the Philippine Islands, Guam, Wake Island, Howland Island, Midway, Malaya, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Three days later, Guam became the first American territory to fall to Japan. Although the aim of the December 7th surprise attack on Hawaii's Pearl Harbor was to destroy the U.S. Pacific Fleet in its homeport and to discourage U.S. action in Asia, the other strikes served as preludes to full-scale invasions and military occupation.

Only in the Philippines did combined U.S.-Filipino units mount a prolonged resistance to Imperial Japan’s invasion. They held out for five months. On April 9, 1942, approximately 10,000 Americans and 70,000 Filipinos became POWs with the surrender of the Bataan Peninsula. April 9th also marked the beginning the 65-mile Bataan Death March. Thousands died and hundreds have never been accounted for from the March and its immediate aftermath.

By June 1942, most of the estimated 27,000 Americans ultimately held as military POWs of Imperial Japan had been surrendered. If Filipino soldiers, who were released before the end of 1942, and American civilians in Japan and throughout the Pacific are also counted, this number is closer to 36,000. By the War’s end, 40 percent or over 12,000 Americans had died in squalid POW camps, in the fetid holds of “Hell ships,” or as slave laborers for Japanese corporations.

Surviving as a POW of Japan was the beginning of new battles: that of acceptance into society and living with then-nameless mental and physical ailments. In the first six years after the war, deaths of American POWs of Japan were more than twice those of the comparably-aged white male population. These deaths were disproportionally due to tuberculosis, suicides, accidents, and cirrhosis. In contrast, 1.5 percent of Americans in Nazi POW camps died (as noted above this number was 40 percent as POWs of Japan) and in the first six years after liberation Nazi POW camp survivors deaths were one-third of those who survived Japanese POW camps.

Meet the special needs of all veterans
As the representative of veterans with the highest rate of post-conflict hospitalizations and psychiatric disorders, we encourage Congress to fight for adequate medical care, disability benefits, housing, and job training. We are especially supportive of the DAV’s efforts to expand access to the VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) to severely disabled veterans.

And we applaud the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee for approving S. 2193, the Caring for Our Veterans Act of 2017 that extends caregiver benefits, which includes provisions to improve and phase in expanded eligibility for the VA’s Comprehensive Program for family caregivers. We also recognize Chairman Roe for his leadership in the House to address this inequity and encourage him to introduce companion legislation.

The VA’s current rule of granting benefits only to families of veterans injured on or after September 11, 2001 is plainly dismissive of members of our Greatest Generation, those veterans of WWII. Surviving POWs of Japan know well that their caregivers—their families—were instrumental in their reintegration into their communities and their ability to achieve the highest levels of recovery and quality of life. Family caregivers are critical members of every veteran’s health care. The American POWs of Japan and their families know intimately the difficulty of re-incorporation into civil society with little support as well as the toll PTSD and war-related illnesses takes on the entire family.

My members would welcome opportunities to discuss with you their caregiving experiences so that Senators and Members of Congress can better understand the importance of expanding caregiver assistance to all generations of veterans.

Progress Toward Remembrance, Reconciliation, and Preservation
An important aspect of showing respect and acceptance to returning servicemen and women is to ensure that they are not forgotten. This is the primary mission of the ADBC-MS. To this end, we have had a number of significant achievements in the last decade.

Friday, April 20, 2018

April 18, 1942, Doolittle Raid on Tokyo

On April 18, 1942, 16 B-25 bombers took off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet to attack Tokyo and other Japanese cities. The Hornet became infamous in POW history for its planes sinking Hell ships carrying hundreds of American POWs. The famous Doolittle Raid lifted American morale in the early days of the Second World War, and while it inflicted very little damage, there were unexpected consequences.

Eight men were captured by the Japanese, three of them were executed, one starved to death in a prisoner of war camp; the other four survived until the end of the war, forever broken from the torture they endured.
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The rest of Doolittle’s raiders made it back to Allied lines with the help of Chinese villagers and missionaries. In retaliation, Japanese forces killed an estimated 250,000 Chinese, an atrocity on the scale of the infamous Rape of Nanking.

Target Tokyo: Jimmy Doolittle and the Raid That Avenged Pearl Harbor by James M. Scott (featured above) is a new history of the daring raid. The author details the Japanese reaction and their cruel revenge.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Honoring the men of the USS Houston (CA-30)

Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 44 (Tuesday, March 13, 2018)]
[Extensions of Remarks] [Pages E306-E307]

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Mr. GENE GREEN of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to bring your attention to a memorial ceremony for the men who served aboard the USS Houston (CA-30) held this month in Sam Houston Park in my hometown of Houston. Descendants of the sailors and Marines of the "Flagship" of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet that was sunk by Imperial Japanese Naval forces on March 1, 1942 which honored their bravery and determination. Seventy-six years ago, the American heavy cruiser USS Houston (CA-30) and Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth, outnumbered and outgunned by an Imperial Japanese Navy Battle Fleet, fought to the last in the Sunda Strait between Sumatra and Java. Both went down with their captains aboard and their guns still firing. Nearly 1,000 Allied servicemen perished. It marked the end of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet and the naval forces of the American-British-Dutch-Australian (ABDA) Command. As the crews abandoned the sinking ships, Japanese sailors machine- gunned the decks and the men in the oil-soaked sea. Only 368 sailors and Marines, including four Chinese stewards and mess attendants from the Houston, made it to shore where they were taken as POWs of Japan. Some were held in a POW camp on Java, eight officers were sent to Japan to corporate POW camps, and others to the infamous Changi Prison in Singapore. Most, 220 of the survivors were shipped to Burma to be slave laborers constructing the Thai-Burma Death Railway. 

For the next three and one-half years, the surviving men of the Houston and Perth suffered together through humiliation, degradation, physical and mental torture, starvation and horrible tropical diseases. Only 291 men from the Houston's complement of 1008, and 214 of the Perth's complement of 681, returned home after the War. This shared history speaks to the American spirit and grit as well as to our enduring alliance with Australia. Back in Houston, Texas, news of the destruction of the warship hit the city hard. The result was a mass recruiting drive for volunteers to replace the lost crew. On Memorial Day 1942, a crowd of nearly 200,000 witnessed 1,000 ``Houston Volunteers'' inducted into the Navy. An accompanying bond drive raised over $85 million, enough to pay for a new cruiser and an aircraft carrier, the USS San Jacinto. According to a 1949 Houston Chronicle article commemorating the event, word of the ship's fate ``aroused a fever pitch of patriotism'' in the city. ``Her loss made the war something more of a personal conflict to more than half a million people,'' the article reads. "Official news of her destruction . . . slapped the city squarely between the eyes, and set off a series of events that stands unequaled in the nation." So this week, we pause to remember the brave men of the USS Houston (CA-30) who inspired their country and who gave so much to fight tyranny in the Pacific. They who "Still Stand Watch Over Sunda Strait" represent our enduring commitment to liberty. And I thank the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society and the USS Houston CA-30 Survivors' Association and Next Generations for ensuring that the sacrifice and lessons of this greatest generation is remembered and honored.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Remembering the Oryoku Maru

Oryoku Maru sinking off Subic Bay
Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 20 (Tuesday, January 30, 2018)] [
Extensions of Remarks] [Page E120]

Mr. BOST. Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to pause to remember the American POWs who arrived in Japan 73 years ago today. These heroes were survivors of the infamous "death cruise" of the Oryoku Maru. The men were prisoners since the American territory fell to the Japanese in the spring of 1942. Of the over 1,600 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and civilians who left Manila on December 13, 1944, barely 400 arrived at the port of Moji, Japan on January 30, 1945. "Hell Ship"' is simply the only way to describe the vessels and conditions the POWs endured. These men were packed in dark holds of freighters, usually with coal or animal waste. They were given little water, food, or fresh air. Sanitation was non-existent. Men driven insane were quickly and brutally quieted. I became familiar with this story by assisting my constituent, Ms. Jan Thompson, who is the daughter of a survivor of the Oryoku Maru journey and is the President of American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society. Her father, Robert E. Thompson, was a Navy Pharmacist's Mate who had been assigned to a submarine tender in Manila Bay, the USS Canopus. He was surrendered on Corregidor. It has been my honor to help preserve the memory of the American POWs of Japan and of their experience aboard the Hell Ships to Japan. The 400-plus men who died during the stop at Takao Harbor, Formosa are currently buried in 20 graves marked simply as "Unknowns" at Hawaii's National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Soon there will be a memorial plaque on the Memorial Walk at this Cemetery to these men who died aboard the Enoura Maru in Formosa on January 9, 1945, which was one of the Hell Ships that took part in the Oryoku Maru journey.