Friday, May 14, 2021

Group highlights Filipino bravery during WWII

 


SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KTXL) May 12, 2021 — The history between the Philippines and the United States is deeply rooted in World War II.

It was 1942. World War II had marched into its third year.

The Philippines, like Hawaii, at the time, was a coveted assignment for many American servicemen until the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy invaded.

The Filipino and American militaries joined forces.

Dr. Mickey McGee, the director of the Doctor of Business Administration program at Golden Gate University, told FOX40 his mother was with those forces serving as a guerrilla soldier.

“They were very loyal and courageous allies of the U.S. Army,” McGee said. “The Filipinos, fighting alongside their American comrades, were able to last as long as they could.”

When the Japanese reached the Bataan Peninsula, the Americans and Filipinos held out as long as they could.

“The Filipino and American forces in Bataan were able to disrupt the 50-day time table of the Imperial Japanese army and they held on for 99 days,” said Cecilia Gaerlan, executive director of the Bataan Legacy Historical Society.

“They were instrumental in basically slowing down their attack,” McGee said.

But ultimately, they couldn’t stop the Imperial Japanese Army. The Siege of Bataan would become one of the most devastating military defeats in American history where 76,000 Filipino and American troops were forced to surrender.

They would make what would become known as the Bataan Death March, a 65-mile walk to prison camps with little-to-no food or water.

McGee says his mom tried to help.

“I’ve heard stories of my mom was one of those people on the Bataan Death march,” McGee said. “And many of them got killed while they were trying to help.”

Gaerlan’s father, a lieutenant in the 41st infantry regiment, was a survivor of the death march.

Growing up, she says he’d share bits and pieces about his ordeal in a comedic way.

“He was like a one-man comic with sound effects,” Gaerlan recounted.

One particular story stands out, about what happened before the march, when the Japanese confiscated valuables such as watches and rings from the Filipinos and Americans.

“He had this toothbrush in his pocket. And it looked like a fountain pen. So, he didn’t want to give it away. And the Japanese guard grabbed it. And then, when he saw it was a toothbrush, my father had a grin and then the Japanese got mad at him, and hit him with the butt of a rifle. But the way he told it with his antics,” Gaerlan said.

In the end, only 54,000 of the 76,000 prisoners of war reached the camp.

“Some of the soldiers were writing their farewell letters. And some committed suicide because they couldn’t take it anymore,” Gaerlan said. “When I asked my father, ‘Did this happen?’ He broke down.”

Gaerlan’s father was one of the lucky ones which is why she founded the Bataan Legacy Historical Society.

The goal of the non-profit based in the Bay Area is to share the history of the Filipinos during the war so generations to come will know their sacrifice and bravery.

During her research, she read about an analysis of her dad’s regiment in the army and was moved beyond words

“When I was reading this document, I was crying because I didn’t know what really had happened to him in Bataan. And then when I asked him, well, he broke down. And that’s when I really found out what happened to him,” Gaerlan recalled.

The pain he and so many soldiers experienced in Bataan is what drives Gaerlan and McGee to make sure their parent’s service is never forgotten.

Gaerlan is working to get a Navy warship named for Telesforo Trinidad, the first Filipino sailor to receive the Medal of Honor in 1915.

Remembering President Biden's Uncle

On May 14, 1944 at 5:05pm 2nd Lt. Ambrose J. Finnegan, Jr., 29, an U.S. Army Air Force courier, took off as a passenger aboard an A-20G Havoc (42-86768), "Black Sunday" from Momote Airfield on Los Negros Island in the Admiralty Islands. Los Negros is separated from Manus Island by the narrow loniu Passage.

The airfield had only been wrested from the Japanese in early March during the Admiralty Islands Campaign (Operation Brewer) by the US Army's 1st Cavalry Division.

Momote's 4,000-foot-long runway had been badly damaged by bombing, but it was revitalized by the Seabees of Mobile Construction Battalion 40, who began work on it only a few days after the February 29, 1944 landing. It is worthy of note that they did so while the area was still an active battlefield, a daring feat for which they received the Presidential Unit Citation. Here it is worth noting that the many airfields they and other units built across the Pacific are now abandoned. A little knowledge of the US campaigns during the Pacific War would provide many suggestions on locations and the challenges to rebuild US forces in the Pacific.

The plane was piloted by Rochester, New York native 1st Lt. Harold R. Prince. The crew included gunner TSgt Ashford H. Cardwell and engineer TSgt Anthony Zulkus. They were headed 500 miles across the Bismarck Sea to the then-Headquarters of the Fifth Air Force (15 June – 10 August 1944) at the Nadzab Airfield Complex on New Guinea. The weather was reported as good on the flight route. Before reaching New Guinea's northeast coast, possibly three-quarters toward Nadzab, the plane ran into engine trouble and the pilot attempted a crash landing on the water.

It was a hard landing. Prince, Cardwell, and Finnegan never surfaced. They went down with the plane. Zulkus miraculously survived the crash and was soon rescued. Although interviewed decades later by the founder of the acclaimed Pacific Wrecks website about the crash, his memory was understandably hazy. Prior to the flight, he did not know Lt. Finnegan. [If interested I can put you in contact with this researcher]

When the aircraft failed to arrive it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

MIA Lt. Finnegan was one of President Joe Biden's mother's brothers. The President is his uncle Lt. Finnegan's Primary Next Of Kin (PNOK).

President Biden is also possibly the second president with a MIA family member. Joseph Kennedy, Jr., the older brother of President John F. Kennedy, died in a plane explosion over the English Channel near the North Sea on August 12, 1944 and is listed on the Tablets of the Missing at Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial near Cambridge, England. However, the formal military definition of MIA is someone with whom contact is lost and whose whereabouts are not known, but whose death is not confirmed. Kennedy's death was confirmed, Finnegan's was not.

So, take a moment on May 14th to remember Lt. Finnegan, another hero of the Pacific War.

Lt Finnegan is remembered at the family grave [you can leave a flower or note at this website] and is on the Tablets of the Missing in the American Cemetery in Manila.

For more on MacArthur's New Guinea campaigns, see: 

Island Hopping toward Japan 1943-44, US Army Center of Military History

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Ambassador Mondale's Cousin Jimmy

Mondale loved cigars
The passing of Walter Mondale (1928-2021) this week highlights another POW story. His first cousin James “Jimmy” Cowan died in the Philippines as a prisoner of Imperial Japan. Despite this family connection, the former U.S. Ambassador to Japan (1993-1996), Vice President (1977-81), and U.S. Senator from Minnesota (1964-1916) did very little to assist or defend the American POWs of Japan.

By all accounts, even from the Vice President, Jimmy had a tough life with little help from his aunts and uncles. He lost both parents at an early age. His mother, Claribel Hope Mondale, a sister of Mondale's father died in childbirth when Jimmy was nine. After that he never lived in any one place for long, bouncing from relatives' homes or working as a farm hand.

At 21 in January 1941, Jimmy joined the Army. He was soon on his way to the Philippines, part of the rush to build up troops. He was assigned to the U.S. Army 60th Coast Artillery Corps helping man anti-aircraft guns on Corregidor with Battery F “Flint.”  His commanding officer was Major Robert Douglass Glassburn, West Point ’32, who survived the sinking of Oryoku Maru and Enoura Maru, only to die upon arrival in Japan via the Brazil Maru on January 30, 1945 from malnutrition, exposure, and an infected leg wound.

Jimmy became a prisoner of Japan when the fortress Island fell on May 6, 1942. It can be assumed that he was herded with the 12,000 other POWs to the open-air, rocky beach of the 92nd Garage Area. For two weeks, exposed to the sun with limited water and provisions, he was held at this filthy, sinking few acres. It is possible he was given clean up duties or other tasks assigned by his capturers. 

On May 25, the survivors were ferried to Manila, made to wade ashore, and forced on the “March of Shame” five miles down Dewey Boulevard to Bilibid Prison. Over the next few days the men were loaded into train stock cars for transport to the Cabanatuan POW camp north of Manila. There they joined the survivors of Camp O’Donnell, many of whom endured the Bataan Death March. It is also unknown what assignments or illnesses he had during this period of his captivity.

In mid-December 1944, the Japanese rounded up all ambulatory POWs in the Philippines for transport to Japan. Some researchers believe that this was in preparation to locate all the POWs together in Japan or China to use as hostages in peace negotiations. More than 1,600 men were loaded in the hold of the passenger ship the Oryoku Maru in Manila on December 13, 1945.

By the time the ship got underway and made the 60-some miles up to Subic Bay at least 50 POWs died packed shoulder to shoulder in the dark, sweltering containers. On December 14 and 15, American planes from the USS Hornet and USS Cabot attacked and sank the ship. The first bombs destroyed the forward hold killing 200 men. Among them was Pvt Cowan.

Jimmy’s body rests with the sea. His name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Cemetery in Manila. If he had survived the attack, he would have had to endure a week on a barren, sun exposed tennis court before being put aboard the Enoura Maru or Brazil Maru to Formosa (Taiwan). If he was aboard the Enoura Maru, the same group of planes from the USS Hornet would have bombed the ship while in port. Four hundred men died from that attack. 

The survivors were consolidated on board the Brazil Maru for the trip north to Japan’s frigid port of Moji. Of the 1,619 POWs who had boarded the Oryoku Maru in Manila, the Philippines, less than 600 survived to arrive in Moji, Japan on January 30, 1945. Of those, nearly 200 died in Japanese POW camps in Japan, Korea, and China, with most dying in the first few days at Moji. Only 403 men of the original 1,619 survived to be liberated in August 1945.

I became involved in Pvt Cowan’s story upon reading about the discovery on Corregidor, and subsequent return, of his dogtags to his sister in 2013. The story noted that their mother was former Ambassador Mondale’s aunt. This connection to a soldier on Corregidor was something no one had ever mentioned.

This was of personal interest, because in the spring of 1974, I was one of the first two female Exeter-Andover Washington interns (I was among the first classes of girls to attend Exeter). I was assigned to Mondale’s Senate office. Subsequently, I interned or worked for him while he was vice president and at his pre-presidential campaign law/consulting firm. 

Thus, at a meeting in Washington, I approached him and asked him about his cousin. At first startled that someone knew this connection, he said yes that Jimmy was his cousin who he believed had died on the Death March. Most people think if someone fought in the Philippines they were on the Death March, which is generally not true. 

I said Jimmy was not on the March and offered to put together some basic facts about his cousin. He was a bit hesitant, but agreed. Mr. Mondale, I discovered, had a very fraught relationship with his family. The Depression took a toll on family ties and he was estranged from his brothers. 

In 2018, the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society was planning a memorial ceremony and booklet for the placement of a memorial stone in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii to the men who perished on the Enoura Maru. It occurred to me that Mondale might see the booklet as a way to finally and properly remember his cousin.

Thus, I approached him again asking if he wanted a memorial page to Jimmy and offered to write it for his approval. It was not an easy yes for Mondale. He never asked if he could make a donation and hesitated to even review the draft. Nonetheless, he approved the draft shortly before the booklet was to go to press. It is significant that he did.

As Ambassador to Japan and afterward, Mr. Mondale was a keen and well-rewarded advocate for Japan. At two critical junctures he failed his cousin and undermined progress toward justice for the POWs of Japan. In 1995, when the Japanese government under Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama was putting together the Peace Friendship and Exchange Initiative, the U.S. State Department and Embassy in Tokyo, under his watch,  did nothing to advocate for American POWs to be included in this extensive, multi-million dollar outreach program for Allied POWs. Thus, they were noticeably excluded.

The American POWs were not offered any program until they, themselves, advocated with the Japanese Embassy and the Obama Administration. Trips to Japan for former POWs did not begin until 2010. The result was that only a handful of POWs who survived to their 90s could benefit from Japan’s conciliatory effort. Some of the good feeling generated by the trips was undone by Abe’s April 29, 2015 [Hirohito’s birthday] speech to a joint meeting of Congress where he thanked the POWs for their “tolerance.”

In 2001, a group of American POWs of Japan were suing in the courts and advocating in Congress for a right to sue the 60-some Japanese corporations that benefited from their slave labor. Mondale worked closely with the Bush Administration and the Japanese Embassy to tell legislators and opinion leaders that allowing compensation for the POWs would abrogate the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty and undermine the entire U.S. treaty system. 

Although the Dutch and others had long abrogated the treaty with their own side deals; and the issue of corporate compensation could easily be argued, especially after the 2000 Berlin Accords establishing payments to those who were slave laborers for German companies, the White House and the Japanese prevailed. On September 25, 2001, Mondale and former ambassadors to Japan Thomas S. Foley and Michael H. Armacost issued an op ed in the Washington Post, “Pacific Deal” mirroring a letter circulating in Congress by former Secretary of State George Shultz opposing legislation that would permit POW suits against Japan. The essay repeated Shultz, “I have always supported the best of treatment for our veterans, especially those who were involved in combat. If they are not being adequately taken care of, we should always be ready to do more -- but let us not unravel confidence in the commitment of the United States to a treaty properly negotiated and solemnly ratified with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.” 

The campaign against the POWs was successful. Senator Daniel Inouye and his friend Senator Ted Stevens engineered killing in a November 8, 2001, 4:00 am conference meeting an amendment to the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and related agencies Appropriations Act, 2002, that would have prevented the Departments of State and the Justice from opposing POW lawsuits. And the Bush State Department filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court. Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, the young lawyer and Rhodes Scholar who composed the brief, was even awarded the Department of State’s “Superior Honor Award” in recognition of successful representation of the United States in numerous appeals involving World War II-era claims (2003). 

One of the first things I learned in Senator Mondale’s office was when I was tasked to escort the Senator to a meeting. I was panicked as he seemed to refuse to gather himself to get to the meeting on time. When I worried he was going to be late, he put down his cigar and told the teenage me flatly, that “the important people are always late.”

Yes, Mondale was late to remember his cousin who died in service to his country. But, in the end, he did. Whereas the Japanese have escaped responsibility, he eventually embraced it.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Congresswoman Jahana Hayes honors POW of Japan

Congressional Record Vol. 167, No. 66 (Extensions of Remarks - April 16, 2021)

 RECOGNIZING DANIEL CROWLEY OF SIMSBURY, CONNECTICUT

                 ______

              HON. JAHANA HAYES

              of Connecticut

               in the House of Representatives

                Friday, April 16, 2021

Mrs. HAYES. Madam Speaker, I rise today to call your attention to National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day, which takes place annually on April 9th. This day honors the men and women who fought two battles, one in combat and another in enduring untold brutality by our enemies.

April 9th is also the 79th anniversary of the start of the infamous 1942 Bataan Death March in the Philippines. Invading Imperial Japanese forces forced more than 80,000 American and Filipino soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines to walk 65 miles up the Bataan Peninsula in the tropical heat without food, water, or medical care while subjecting them to beatings, bayonetting, and beheading. Thousands died.

One of my constituents, Daniel Crowley of Simsbury, Connecticut, is a survivor of the Battle of Bataan. A member of the U.S. Army Air Corps, he was sent to Bataan in December 1941 after Japan destroyed the military airfields in the Philippines. He was part of the United States Army's Provisional Air Corps Infantry Regiment and fought in the historic Battle of the Points on the Peninsula.

Daniel avoided the Bataan Death March by swimming from Mariveles on Bataan through three miles of shark-infested and mined waters to the fortress island of Corregidor. There, he became part of the 4th Marines Regimental Reserve who fought a dangerous and desperate shore defense until Corregidor fell to Japan on May 6, 1942.

He was one of 300 Prisoners of War sent to build an airstrip on Palawan Island for the Japanese Army. Today this site serves as the Philippine Air Force's Antonio Bautista Air Base. Daniel was fortunate to be transferred off the island before the December 14, 1944 Palawan Massacre where the 150 Prisoners of War remaining on the island were doused with aircraft fuel, set afire, and machine gunned to death.

Instead, Daniel was shipped to Japan aboard a ``hellship'' to be a laborer in two copper mines: one owned by Hitachi Ltd. and the other, Ashio, owned by the Furukawa Company Group. He labored alongside Japanese and conscripted Korean miners as well as Allied and American Prisoners of War from the United States, United Kingdom, Singapore, Hong Kong, Dutch East Indies, Norway, Australia, and China.

After liberation in September 1945, Daniel returned home to Connecticut. He raised a family and became a storied salesman for Northwestern Mutual.

On January 4, 2021, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont proclaimed "Pacific War Heroes Day" in Daniel's honor. After 76 years, Daniel, 98, finally received his long-denied Combat Infantryman Badge, a Prisoner of War Medal, and his previously unknown 1945 promotion to Sergeant in a ceremony held at the Air National Guard Base outside Hartford, Connecticut.

Madam Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me in honoring now Sergeant Daniel Crowley for his extraordinary service to our country fighting tyranny and oppression. His and the more than 200 American Prisoners of War of Japan from Connecticut have a history we must never forget.

Friday, April 09, 2021

THE Flag returns

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April 9, 2021 by Mindy Kotler

At midnight, beginning April 9,  2021, National Former POW Recognition Day and the 79th Anniversary of the fall of Bataan and the start of the Bataan Death March in the Philippines, President Joe Biden returned the POW/MIA flag atop the White House below the Stars & Stripes. It had flown there everyday since the late-90s, but was removed on Flag Day, June 14, 2020 by the previous occupant of the residence.
Thank you Joe!

The public announcement was made at the daily White House press briefing by Press Secretary Ms. Jen Psaki: 
You may have also noticed another flag flying above the White House today. 
 In keeping with the President and the First Lady’s commitment to honor the sacrifices of all those who serve — including veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors — the President and First Lady have restored the POW/MIA flag to its original location on top of the White House Residence.
In a true display of bipartisanship, Senators Hassan, Warren, and Cotton wrote to the President at the beginning of the administration requesting the POW/MIA flag fly high above the Residence. This follows passage of a bipartisan — bipartisan legislation in 2019, led by those same senators, which requires the flag to be displayed whenever the American flag flies on federal buildings. 
Today, also happens to be National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day — a day when we remember and honor those who were in captivity in service to our nation and recognize those who awaited their return.
Office of the President of the United States

APRIL 9, 2021 

Throughout our Nation’s history, those who have served in our Armed Forces have steadfastly stood in defense of the United States and of freedom throughout the world. Although countless courageous service members and civilians have given their lives for our Nation, more than half a million others have sacrificed their own freedom as prisoners of war so the cause of liberty always prevails.

Enduring with limitless dignity and determination, these former prisoners of war are a powerful reminder that their indomitable spirit could not be broken, even by brutal treatment in contravention of international law and morality. Despite the terrible suffering inflicted upon them by their captors in harsh prisons and camps in Europe and Asia, American prisoners of war steadfastly demonstrated their devotion to duty, honor, and country.

On this day and every day, let us honor all who have borne the hardships of captivity in service to our Nation, remember the brave men and women who were held as prisoners in foreign lands during our Nation’s past conflicts, and recognize those at home who anxiously awaited their loved ones’ return. Their faith in God, love of family, and trust in our Nation are an inspiration to all Americans, and we will always remember their sacrifices.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 9, 2021, as National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day. I call upon all Americans to observe this day by honoring the service and sacrifice of all former prisoners of war as our Nation expresses its eternal gratitude for their sacrifice. I also call upon Federal, State, and local government officials and organizations to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this ninth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fifth.

JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Honor a Filipino hero



USS TELESFORO TRINIDAD CAMPAIGN (USSTTC)

Fireman Second Class Telesforo Trinidad received the Medal of Honor for extraordinary heroism in the line of duty during boiler explosions onboard the USS San Diego (ACR-6) while the ship was underway in the Gulf of California on January 21, 1915. Trinidad brought two crewmembers to safety in spite of his own physical injuries from the explosion.

The USS Telesforo Trinidad Campaign (USSTTC) is an initiative to name the first US Navy warship after an American national of Filipino descent who served in the US Navy. Trinidad holds the distinction of being the first and only Asian American (and first Filipino) in the U.S. Navy to receive a Medal of Honor, in accordance with General Order Number 142 signed by Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels on April 1, 1915.

USSTTC is a U.S. registered non-profit [501 (c)(3)] and a national grassroots advocacy group comprised of serving and retired members of the U.S. military, community leaders, academics, corporate executives, civic leaders and veterans’ families. Its Chairman is Capt. Ronald Ravelo, USN, Ret., former Commander of the USS Abraham Lincoln and Col. Nonie Cabana, USAF-Ret. is its Executive Director.

For more information, please visit Facebook/USSTTC

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

A daughter's story of a father lost

Discovering My Father - Nancy Kragh 

The Friends of World War II Memorial, a private nonprofit, have an educational series of talks on WWII history.

On March 20th, one of the presentations was by the ADBC-MS's former VP Nancy Kragh.
Nancy was instrumental in having a memorial stone to the men of the Enoura Maru placed at the