2023 POW FRIENDSHIP VISITATION PROGRAM
PARTICIPANT/POW CONCISE PROFILES
FEBRUARY 11 TO 16, 2023
This past February, the Japanese government again invited children of POWs of Japan to the country to work on reconciliation and their parent's ordeal with Imperial Japan's armed forces. This was the first trip that included a daughter of a female Army officer, a nurse on Corregidor. It is also the first trip that highlighted a POW camp where POW slave labor was for a company, Ube Industries, owned by the current Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi. His great grandfather founded the conglomerate.They met with the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel. They also visited with Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki, president of the America-Japan Society, who helped initiate the program in 2009 while he was ambassador to the United States. Sadly, he was unwilling to host a program for his visitors with his members or at the Nakasone Peace Institute where he is president.
This may also be the last trip the Japanese feel necessary to host. Its multi-million dollar kakehashi program to bring Americans to Japan is focused on Japanese-Americans, high school students, and cultivating the next generation of American Japan experts. As American policymakers are now reluctant to mention that Japan was an enemy or an unrepentant perpetrator of war atrocities, it seems likely that this reconciliation program will disappear.
The following children visited Japan. For fuller biographies of their POW parent, see this LINK.
Ms. Margaret A. GARCIA , 72, lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is the daughter of CPL Evangelisto “Evans” R. Garcia (June 19, 1913 – January 29, 2011), a corporal in New Mexico’s 200th Coast Artillery. They were the first to fire on the invading Japanese on December 8, 1941. He fought in the Bataan Peninsula and endured the Bataan Death March. He was sent to Japan in 1943 to be a slave laborer in Mitsui’s Omuta coal mine outside Nagasaki. Today, the mine is a UNESCO World Industrial Heritage site.
Ms. Sandra Harding, 70, of Santa Fe, New Mexico, is the daughter of two U.S. Army officers who were prisoners of war of Japan surrendered in the Philippines: Lt. Earlyn Black Harding (September 8, 1918 – August 16, 2007) and Lt. Col. Harry J. Harding (March 22, 1919 – October 30, 1987). Lt. Black was an Army Nurse on Corregidor who was interned at Santo Tomas in Manila. Lt. Col. Harding was with the 63rd Infantry Regiment (Philippine Army) on Panay. He was sent to Japan and imprisoned in Kobe House POW Camp, Zentsuji, and Rokuroshi. Ms. Harding was an elementary school art teacher for the Santa Fe Public Schools and recently retired as a freelance graphic artist.
Mr. Thomas J. Hoskins, Jr., 75, lives in San Antonio, Texas. He is the son of Staff Sergeant Thomas J. Hoskins (April 6, 1918 – April 18, 1995) who was a member of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. His father operated one of the two working radar units in the Philippines when Japan attacked on December 8, 1941. As a POW, his father was forced to build an airfield on Palawan Island in the Philippines. He was taken to Japan to be a slave laborer in various Kawasaki area POW camps near Tokyo. After the war, his father continued to serve in the military until his retirement in 1959 as a Master Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force.
Ms. Linda McDavitt, 76, lives in Austin, Texas where she is President/CEO of the Genevieve and Ward Orsinger Foundation and Sail Training Commander of the Austin Yacht Club. She is the daughter of Capt. Jerome A. McDavitt (February 10, 1912-May 3, 1982) the 24th Field Artillery Regiment (Philippine Scouts). Surrendered on Corregidor, he was sent to Japan in 1944 where he was the POW commanding officer at the Hiroshima #6B - Omine POW camp that provided slave labor for a coal mine owned by Ube Industries. He was one of 89 Texas Aggies (graduates of Texas A&M) involved in the defense of Bataan and Corregidor.
Ms. Lorna Nielsen Murray, 64, lives in South Jordan, Utah. She is the daughter of PFC Eugene P. Nielsen, (January 23, 1916 - February 3, 2011) a member of the 59th Coast Artillery who fought on Corregidor. Nielsen was one of only 11 survivors of the 1944 Palawan Massacre of 139 American POWs. They were on Palawan Island in the Philippines to build an airfield for the Imperial Japanese Army. Today, this airfield is the foundation for the island’s Antonio Bautista Air Base. On November 22, 2023, Vice President Kamala Harris laid flowers at the memorial to the victims of this Japanese war crime. Ms. Murray is also a cousin to Lt. Col. Chase J. Nielsen, one of the famed “Tokyo Doolittle Raiders” and one of the eight who were captured by Japan. He was one of the four POWs who survived.
Dr. Gail Yoella Small, 68, lives in Reno, Nevada and is the daughter of Major George Small (February 28, 1908 – December 15, 2007) who was with the Chemical Warfare Service, 7th Chemical Company, Aviation, at Clark Field in the Philippines. After the Far East Air Force in early December 1941 was destroyed, he was assigned as an officer with the 31st Infantry Division, Company F of the 2nd Battalion that fought on Bataan. He survived the Bataan Death March, Camp O’Donnell, and the Cabanatuan POW Camp in the Philippines. In Japan, he was imprisoned at Osaka POW Camp 2-D UMEDA, Zentsuji, and Rokuroshi.
Ms. Karen Brady Smith, 73, lives in Kent, Washington. She is the daughter of Major Jack E. Brady (February 26, 1921 – August 11, 2008) who was a member of the 228th Army Signal Company in the Philippines. He survived the Bataan Death March, Camp O’Donnell, and Cabanatuan POW Camp. He was on one of the first hellships, Tottori Maru, to Japan, enduring a 38-day journey via Formosa, Mako, and Korea to Japan. He was held at the Omori POW Camp in Tokyo, used as stevedore for Nippon Express and worked at an iron smelter in Iwate at Sendai #10-B for Tokyo Shibaura Denki K.K. (Tohoku Denki Seitetsu Kabushiki Kaisha).