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.