Pfc. Klein was one of 449 Marines who fought in one of the first battles of World War II. Although out-gunned, out-manned, and out-supplied, the Marines, with a handful of civilian contractors who were on Wake to fortify the island and Pan American Airways Chamorro flight attendants, held Wake Island in the Pacific. For over two weeks, December 8 to 22, 1941, these men did the impossible. They stopped an invading Japanese armada.
Naoetsu was liberated in September 1945 and Art, barely 85 pounds, returned to the U.S. to spend months in a military hospital recovering from the trauma, beatings, illnesses, and malnutrition. He had survived nearly four years of the worst that Imperial Japan could deliver.
As a Marine it is said he had an advantage. U.S. Marines, according Professor Urwin, had the discipline and esprit de corps that helped them survive the merciless POW camps. Eighteen Wake Island Marines died as prisoners, fixing that group's death rate at 4.46 percent, whereas the overall death rate for American POWs of Japan was nearly 40 percent.
|Naoetsu Peace Park|
After being a Marine and POW of Japan, there were few challenges that Art could not overcome. Staying optimistic is what Art attributed to his longevity. The next challenge is for us, Americans and Japanese, to remember him and understand the important role he played in American history. Rarely does his name appear in camp rosters, histories, or memoirs. Hopefully, this will now change. He helps us fill in many blanks in the American experience with Japan.