By the time we were in Korea, the guards were Japanese.
When we were in Korea we had to work for our food.
We had the jobs of making some very flimsy khaki jackets. We had to
make four button holes and put four buttons on. We had to use like
six threads per hole, and so many threads per button. Now some of
the fellows would double up on the threads on the buttons so they
were too thick. We had a two wheeled cart to take the finished garments
up the street away and pick up the load for the next day. If we were
assigned to the cart, we didn't have to do the sewing, and if we did
the sewing, we didn't have to pull the cart. And that was about all
we were fit to do.
After the war, we waited about a month before the
Americans got to us. We had a compound, a pretty big building, that
we lived in. There was an area a little bit bigger than the building
beside it and in that open place we had a garden. There was a path
around the inside of the fence, which was about eight foot high, and
the Japanese guards would walk around this path. One day we were called
into assembly outside, and the commandant of the camp said that the
war was over, and that they would protect us until our people got
there to get us. So after that the guards walked around the perimeter
on the outside of the fence instead of the inside. We learned later
that if the Russians had come into Korea for us, we would have been
executed by the Japanese before they got there.
Once we were taken by the Japanese with some guards
up a hill someplace to see a shrine or something as a sightseeing
There were two outfits of B-29s, I don't know where
they were from, that dropped us supplies. You could tell they were
two different outfits by the markings on the planes. They'd take two
53-gallon drums and knock the head out of one and the bottom out of
another, fill them with stuff they thought we could use, welded them
together and parachute them to us. We'd go out, and take the Japanese
guards out with us to pick up what they dropped to us. I guess they
had no idea how many men that we had in camp, but they must have thought
it more than the hundred that were there. Less than a hundred. Anyway,
one load was 156 gallons of chewing gum! I still have some clothing
that was my share of what they dropped, that I've never worn. The
one thing that they never dropped that I would have liked was milk.
We never got any of that.
Like I said, the first thing the Japanese did after
the war ended was give us our back pay in occupation script. After
we got paid, we went out with two of the Japanese and bought a bull,
so we had meat.
Finally the Seventh Fleet came in to Inchon, and
they decided to make a practice landing to get the troops off the
ship to stretch their legs. Of course, I don't know how long they'd
been at sea. Well, we were at the beach to meet them.
first taken out to a Navy Hospital ship with a big Red Cross painted
on the side, and our bags were all sprayed with de-lousing spray,
and we were sent to the shower and de-loused, and put on clean clothes.
We spent the night aboard the hospital ship. Then the next day we
were transferred to a troop transport ship. Then we were transferred
back to the hospital ship. Then finally they decided we'd go back
on the troop ship. So we were released from the fleet, and we went
down to Manila.
They had a bunch of officers on board. We were practically
all officers by this time, you see, because all the enlisted personnel
had been shipped out of the Philippines early. We had company grade
officers mostly, though we did have three or four Lieutenant Colonels
and several Majors with us. By this time I was pretty much one of
the senior officers. So I palled up with a graduate of Penn State
who was an Army Engineer Captain at the time, and we ate at the second
officers' mess. They said we could have seconds to eat if we wanted,
but the mess stewards didn't think we should have seconds, and were
nowhere to be seen when we wanted seconds. So Gil and I decided we'd
do something about that. So we went down to the enlisted men's mess
for our second helpings. And of course, as you'd leave the mess there
was a box of apples or a box of oranges and you could take one with
you. They'd opened a small store so we could get candy bars in the
middle of the morning. Same thing in the afternoon and in the middle
of the night. They couldn't make ice cream fast enough to give us
every day, but we got ice cream every other day. In the 29 days between
when we were picked up and got to Manila I put on thirty pounds.
I flew back to the states from there on a PBM gull-winged
seaplane. Every place we stopped there was a Red Cross person there
breaking out the gear and we could have anything we wanted. Now Kay
had it different. She came back to the States in February or March
of 1945 on the USS Capps, which was manned with a Coast Guard crew.
When she got to Leyte, she didn't have any shoes or money. I don't
know how she bought her shoes because the Red Cross wouldn't give
her any. From then on she was after me every time I mentioned the
Red Cross. She didn't like it at all. When we got to Honolulu, they
got us down to the airport pretty early. I was with a Navy Warrant
that I'd been through the camps with, and we got the Red Cross busy
cutting us slices of pineapple. We ate more pineapple.
In the States, they put us in a hospital in Sacramento.
When it came to mealtime, they'd bring us just a little skimpy portion
of whatever it was, and we asked, "What's this?" And the nurse said
you can't eat too much food, you can't rush things. I just couldn't
convince her that she was thirty pounds too late. They only kept us
there a couple days and then we flew back to Washington.
I had a big parade in my honor: Kay, Mary Ann, and
Scott came to meet me. I was still attached to the hospital out in
Bethesda, and they wanted me to go to work getting ready to go take
command of the Tampa office. I was working in the office
for two or three weeks before I was discharged from the Naval Hospital.
I got four years back pay. I took what they gave
me and signed for what I got. When I was Chief of Party, and was paying
the men on the Party, I had to be darned careful about the money,
and I figured that I didn't have to worry about how much I got paid.
Whoever had to pay out that money had to be just as careful about
it as I was. When you're dispensing government money you don't make
mistakes, at the level I worked at. Or you didn't in those days, anyway.
I think Kay got paid a dollar a day for the time she was in the camp.
years ago I got from our director the Coast Survey Asiatic Service
Medal and one other, but they were both service medals. So I wrote
and asked about the Bronze Star, the P.O.W. Medal and the Purple Heart,
which I believed I was eligible for. I got back quite a pile of letters
showing my service. One of the letters said that enclosed was the
Purple Heart and the Certificate. Now this was the first I'd ever
heard of the letter or the award. I certainly never received it. I
still have not received the medal or certificate. Then there was something
dated in the forties from someone connected with the War Department
in some way saying I was not eligible for the Prisoner of War Medal
nor the Bronze Star, but I'd never received that letter either. They
based that decision on the fact that I had never been officially transferred
to the Navy. I had reported for duty and was accepted on the local
level on Corregidor, but that's where it started and ended. I was
considered an officer of the Navy all during the war and on the way
home. I was recognized by both the Americans and the Japanese as being
an officer of the Navy. For example, as far as I know, the civilians
were never put on work details, although we had civilians in, and
to my knowledge, no civilian was taken from our camp and sent to Japan,
Korea or Manchuria. Even after I'd gotten back, until I was discharged
from Bethesda Naval Hospital. But on the record, I'd gotten all my
back pay from the Coast Survey.
When I was in about the third grade in Minneapolis,
I started saving money. The Farmers and Mechanics bank in Minneapolis
started a program where every other week or maybe once a month you
could bring in your pennies and get savings stamps. When you had a
dollar worth of stamps, you could turn them in and get a dollar, or
start a savings account. So I started a savings account when I was
in third grade. I kept that up, and by the time I was in the Philippines
I had about $5,000 in that account. Kay used my passbook with Chinese
merchants in Manila and forged my name on the withdrawal forms. Kay
was allowed to stay out of Santo Tomas until November of 1942, when
Scott turned one year old, and she used the money to buy food and
supplies during that time, and to stock up with things to take inside
when she went in. I guess she also used the money to buy things when
she was inside the camp. She established a friendship with some of
those people, and kept in touch with them after the war, though of
course I never knew any of them. I was back maybe six months or so
when I got a letter from the bank asking about Kay's draft, which
the merchant had sent in for payment, and I said go ahead and honor
What do I think of the Japanese? Well, if history
is correct, an American who was pretty well known in his time used
to say, "War is Hell." I agree. If the price differential didn't enter
into it, I'd own a Honda, rather than a Hyundai.
Do I ever see any of my fellow prisoners? Yes. There's
one I correspond with at Christmas time, Gilbert Radcliff, up in York
Pennsylvania. He's a retired Colonel in the Army Engineers. He was
a captain in prison camp, and a graduate of Penn State. He wrote me
a couple of years ago and wanted me to tell him about that
sugar incident, but I never have. Maybe this will do it.
long did it take me to get back in the swing of things after I got
back to the States? A couple of days. I can't remember ever getting