Saturday, April 27, 2013

Remembering Pfc. Arthur A. Klein, USMC

Our hero passed yesterday evening at 4:10.

Thus read the email announcing Pfc. Arthur A. Klein, Wake Island Detachment, 1st Defense Battalion, U.S. Marine Corp, 91, death on Monday, April 16th in Billings, Montana.

He was indeed a hero. Little in neither his obituary in the Billings Gazette nor the tribute given him by U.S. Senator John Testor (D-MT) in the Congressional Record conveys just how much.

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.

According to historian Gregory Urwin, author of Victory in Defeat: The Wake Island Defenders in Captivity, the Wake Island Marines exhibited “a heroism that inspired millions of their countrymen, they defended their tiny outpost for sixteen days, beating off seventeen air raids and an amphibious landing attempt.” Their fierce defense of the tiny atoll is said to be the only time in military history that an amphibious assault was successfully repelled.
Incredibly, only 46 Marines, three sailors, and 75 civilians died in Wake’s defense. The 1,593 Wake Islanders still alive at the time of the surrender, which included 35 Chamorros and 403 Marines, became prisoners of war of Imperial Japan.  Japanese losses, on the other hand, easily topped 900 dead, plus two destroyers, two patrol boats, one submarine, and 21 aircraft.

In January 1942, the majority of Wake’s POWs (1,187 in all) including Art were herded onto a former Japanese ocean liner, the Nitta Maru, and sailed first to Yokohama and eventually to Shanghai. Others were shipped to Japan later, leaving 98 civilians on Wake to work as slave laborers. The Japanese massacred these men on October 7, 1944.

Nitta Maru
The Nitta Maru was a Hellship. It was like many others, built and operated by NYK Lines (Mitsubishi) and unmarked as carrying POWs. Japanese ship operators bid on and profited from transport contracts with Japan's military. One thousand starving, dehydrated, sick men crammed into her dark, airless hold, which at best was only large enough for 400. Art remembers they “were so crowded that we could not even sit or lie down.” The smell of death and waste hung in the air.

After departing Yokohama, the Japanese took five men topside as retribution for the hundreds of their comrades who had fallen to the defenders of Wake. Art may have listened as five fellow Marines (see Master Technical Sergeant Earl Raymond Hannum and Technical Sergeant Vincent Bailey) were tortured and clumsily beheaded. Their torsos were mutilated with bayonets and thrown overboard. These men are among the 3,000 WWII Marines whose bodies have never been recovered.
In China, Art was taken first to the Shanghai War Prisoners Camp (Kiangwan ).Then he was transferred to Woosung POW Camp also in Shanghai. Although neither camp was humanitarian or comfortable, Art said that it was better than any he had heard about and “it was certainly far better than anythat we had in Japan.” For awhile, the expat community in Shanghai was allowed to provide food and clothing to the POWs. Labor was building a mountain-like firing range that Art called Fujiyama [Mt. Fuji].

It is unclear when Art was sent to Japan. It is likely that he was among the maybe 400 POWs shipped from Shanghai in August 1943 to Tsumori POW Camp 13-B near Osaka. The camp was operated to provide slave labor for the Fujinagata Shipbuilding &Engineering Co., Ltd. Founded in the 17th Century, Fujinagata was shipyard and railroad car manufacturer in Osaka. Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding acquired the company in the 1960s.

The book ConductUnder Fire describes the five barracks at Tsumori as wooden structures 150 to 200 ft long and 30 to 40 ft wide. Three times a day the POWs received rice or a mixture of barley and millet. Greens and root vegetables were added for the evening meal.

Art first slaved as a stevedore hauling rocks and unloading pig iron. He was eventually moved inside to work as a welder. He was grateful for this, as it was warm. The winter of 1943-44 was very cold with temperatures ranging between 32 and 45 degrees. The winter of 1944-45 was the coldest in 50 years. His clothing and bedding was cotton and fuel to heat the barracks was always minimal. That meant only enough to fuel small fires in the barracks for a few hours-if any fuel at all. Body heat was what kept the POWs warm at night as buddies wrapped themselves together in the bedding they had.
About Naoestu
American firebombing raids prompted the Japanese to abandon Tsumori on May 15, 1945. The surviving Wake Islanders and other POWs were sent to Tokyo 4-B Naoetsu to serve as slave laborers for ShinetsuChemical and NipponStainless [both companies still exist with their original names]. This POW camp was considered the worst and most notorious in Japan, More guards (15) were tried and executed (8) than any other POW Camp on the mainland.

At this camp, Art witnessed the many beatings and humiliations of Airman and Olympian Louis Zamperini. The horror of the capricious brutality by the Japanese guards is immortalized in the bestselling book Unbroken. Art’s testimony for the Yokohama Class B and C War Crimes Trials, as footnoted in the book, helped indict a number of the more sadistic camp guards. 

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
In 1995, the citizens of Naoetsu and families of former POWs dediated the Naoetsu Peace Memorial Park & Museum on the site of the former Naoetsu POW camp. It is one of the very few memorials in Japan to acknowledge the suffering of Japan's victims and Japanese responsibility.

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.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Memorial to POW slave laborers for Hitachi

Col. James C. Stewart
Onomichi site serves as POW memorial

DVIDS - News - April 26, 2013

IWAKUNI, Japan - War is a horrendous business; families torn apart, relationships put asunder and service members killed or taken captive. Dignitaries attended a memorial relocation and dedication ceremony held April 15, 2013, to pay homage and honor to enemy prisoners who were captives at Hiroshima Prisoner of War Sub-Camp No. 4 [Hiroshima 4-B MUKAIJIMA (Mukaishima)] during World War II.

On a stretch of bustling road in the heart of Onomichi City, in the Mitsugi District of Hiroshima prefecture, Japan, sits a very unassuming grocery store named “Every.” Right outside its walls stands a stoic monument to Hiroshima Prisoner of War Sub- Camp No. 4. The ground the store occupies was once the camp. As the saying goes, if we do not know our history, we are doomed to repeat it, that only by learning from our mistakes can we understand ourselves and grow as a people.

“Any site of rest and memory to those service members who have gone before us and who have made the ultimate sacrifice warrants our continued visitation and remembrance,” said Col. James C. Stewart, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni commanding officer.

“Today’s ceremony signifies the collective remembrance and dedication of all nations to those military service memebers who have endured the privation of detention during conflict.” The part of Onomichi where the memorial stands was once known as Mukaishima, and it is here where more than 200 Allied service members toiled in shipyards [Owned by Hitachi Zosen], carrying materials until the war’s end in 1945.

Dainichi Maru
Most of these men were brought there aboard Japanese “hell ships,” war-era transports especially known for their dreadful living conditions and barbaric treatment toward captives [and unmarked as POW transports]. One hundred British airmen arrived at the POW camp in November 1942 by way of the hell ship, Dainichi Maru [Operated by Mitsui], along with another 100 American troops who came from the Philippines by way of the Noto Maru in September 1944. Twenty-four of those 200 died from the combination of backbreaking labor, inhumane treatment and conditions suffered in that time period. One of those was U.S. Army Air Force Pfc. George B. Scott, who died from his wounds Feb. 13, 1945. An additional 10 POWs arrived Aug. 8, 1945, when a U.S. B-29 bomber crashed into the Japanese Sea 50 miles off the coast. At the end of the war, all surviving members were transported back to their homelands.

Mukaishima POWs
The ceremony opened with a guitar rendition of “Amazing Grace,” followed by remarks by Mitsuo Minamizawa, Onomichi Red Brick Society and Japan-U.K. Friendship Monument Society chairman, followed by both a Christian and Buddhist invocation.

Once unveiled, a floral tribute commenced with bouquets laid at the base of the memorial, followed by guest remarks and a song by students from the Mukaishima Chuo Elementary School.

The theme of the ceremony focused on passing an understanding of the sacrifices made by the departed to future generations. “I greatly hope from this occasion today this memorial plate will be a symbol of peace and friendship and extend friendship amongst our people,” said Yuko Hiratani, Onomichi City mayor. “I sincerely hope our wish for eternal peace is passed down to future generations.”

Noto Maru
Etched in one of the memorial’s plated faces are the names of the British troops. Old Glory, the Union Jack and the Hinomaru (circle of the sun) flapped in the wind above, silent guardians to the memory of the dead and an example of the continued unified support of the three nations toward everlasting peace.

“It is important for us to continue to remember the men and women from all nations who fought in the great conflict,” said Stewart. “This memorial will stand as a reminder of their tremendous sacrifice and our desire for world peace. Today, Japan and the United States and the United Kingdom form the strongest and most important security alliance in the world.”

After nearly 70 years, representatives from the three nations continued to reflect and sustain the hope for abstinence from war, the endurance of their alliance, and the wish to never need similar monuments in the future.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Recovery of POW remains in India Delayed

Crash Site in India
According to India's Express News Service, April 16"

An expedition by the US department of defence to recover remains of over 55 airmen from a World War II plane crash in Tripura in May has been postponed, with India reportedly not yet ready to give the go-ahead.

Sixty-seven years after the C47 43-48308 transport plane went missing, a team from the department’s Joint POW/MIA (Prisoners of War/Missing in Action) Accounting Command was reportedly planning to visit Tripura to recover the remains of US soldiers and return them to American soil for burial. The transport plane went missing on May 17, 1946 during a flight from Rangoon to Calcutta. Along with a three-member flight crew, it was carrying eight US military investigators and unusually, remains of 47 soldiers who had died as POWs of the Japanese.

But, as the families of the missing airmen were hoping to finally get a sense of closure, they received a notice from the US defence department that the recovery operations had been postponed indefinitely. “Recovery operations in India have been postponed until further notice from the Government of India,” said W Montague Winfield, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for POW/MIA Affairs. “We will continue to work with the Indians in hopes of conducting recovery operations there in the near future,” he said.

As per the US official, there are around “400 unaccounted-for US service members in India as a result of air crashes in World War II”.

According to official sources, the US side had been pushing for the expedition to reach Tripura by a specific date, but since arrangements by Indian authorities were not finished, the expedition was not given the green signal.

Sources said the expedition has only been postponed till a new date is fixed, and can take place this year depending on local conditions. The US first made a request to restart the recovery missions that had been suspended in 2009, during the political-military dialogue in April, 2012. At that time, India had said it was looking into the “possibility of agreeing to the proposal”.

Although the above article suggests that India is delaying, Military.Com notes that JPAC (Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command) recoveries are being hit hard by sequestration. The Indians may be simply frustrated that they are not getting paid. Nevertheless, American officials privately say it is taking time to build relationships with Indian officials as this would be the first recovery mission in India. They contrast the situation with Vietnam, which they characterize as going very well. Apparently diplomacy with India is very touchy.

The plane crash site was first discovered in 2009 by Clayton Kuhles, founder and leader of MIA Recoveries.

Here is Mr. Kuhles' report as it appears on his website. The list of POW remains, all having likely perished in Burma as POWs, is especially interesting for readers.

C-47B #43-48308 Missing Aircrew Report Site Report: 05 Nov 2009
This C-47 aircraft of the 10th Air Force was assigned to the post-war American Graves Registration Service (AGRS). Very early in the morning on 17 May 1946, it departed Mingaladon airport at Rangoon, Burma for Barrackpore / Calcutta, India. The aircraft had a crew of 3 from the 1304th Air Force Base Unit and 8 passengers, including a 6-man AGRS team. This aircraft was transporting possibly as many as 43 sets of US remains which were recently recovered by the AGRS team from POW cemeteries in southern Burma.
A heavy storm was developing over the Bay of Bengal that day, and it was moving to the N - NE. The aircraft would unavoidably be running into the storm along its route to Barrackpore. The standard flight route from Rangoon to Barrackpore required flying over the NE corner of the Bay of Bengal between Akyab, Burma and Calcutta. The pilot was known to dislike flying over water; furthermore, before departing Mingaladon, the pilot told airport personnel he could not fly over water on this flight because he did not have enough life jackets aboard. The pilot stated he would instead follow the coast, and if he encountered a storm over Akyab, he would fly N or NE to skirt around it.
The pilot radioed Barrackpore at 0610Z to report he had passed over Akyab at 0530Z, was flying on instruments and he expected to arrive at Barrackpore at 0800Z. At 0615Z the pilot radioed Barrackpore for a weather update, and Barrackpore had to respond to him twice due to heavy atmospheric interference. At 0705Z the pilot mistakenly responded to a call from Barrackpore to another aircraft and said he had nothing to report. This was the last contact with C-47B #43-48308. The plane was never heard from again and its location is unknown. Dead: 11 plus possibly as many as 43 sets of US POW remains.

Pilot: 1st Lt. Horace J. Gabbart, xxxx9790
Check Pilot: 1st Lt. Melvin L. Power, xxxx3431
Radio Operator: Pfc. Eugene F. Ryan, xxxx4187
Passenger: Lt. Cmdr. James T. Campbell, xxxx5425
Passenger: Capt. Roy W. Corley, xxxx7766
Passenger: 1st Lt. Harry Chan, xxxx7552
Passenger: 1st Lt. Henry E. Derbyshire, xxxx6766
Passenger: 1st Lt. Donald S. Dutton, xxxx8713
Passenger: SSgt. Glenn F. Cox, Jr., xxxx1684
Passenger: Sgt. Warren R. Haines, xxxx3730
Passenger: Cpl. Wallace J. Davis, xxxx1295

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Visiting Outliers

Lt. Gen. Tachibani surrendering
Iwo Jima and Chichijima are islands on the edges of Japan. Barely 150 miles apart, both have unique histories. Neither was ever fully Japanese nor returned to Japan at the end of the Occupation. Both are remembered for their bloody legacies from the last months of the Pacific War.

Two best-selling books by James Bradley tell the wartime histories of these small islands, Flags of Our Fathers (2000) and Flyboys: A True Story of Courage (2003).

Chichijima is best known for being the site of one of the worst crimes against American POWs, which is the subject of Mr. Bradley's latter book.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to visit both this Sunday, April 14th. It is a trip of reparation.

After declaring that April 28th is Sovereignty Restoration Day commemorating the end of the US Occupation of Japan in 1952, Abe Administration had to backtrack. Neither the Ryukyu (Iwo Jima) nor Ogasawara (Chichijima) island chains were returned at that time. Both used to host U.S. military facilities, the latter had to wait until 1968 and the former until 1972.

Hoping to placate protesters so that they will accept his narrow definition of sovereignty, Abe plans to visit Iwo Jima (now called Iwoto) to honor the Japanese dead from one the bloodiest battles of WWII and then fly to Chichijima, first settled by Westerners in the 1600s, to talk with its residents. On both islands he will be haunted by these islands' complicated war histories.

The Battle of Iwo Jima is well-known and memorialized. What happened on Chichijima is considered best forgotten. Although Chichijima was never invaded, it is the site of infamous war crimes against American POWs for which four Japanese officers were hanged.

During the Battle of Iwo Jima, U.S. United States Navy pilots tried to bomb Chichijima's two strategic radio stations. Nine crewmen survived after being shot down in the raids. One, Lieutenant George H. W. Bush, was rescued by an American submarine. The others were captured by the Japanese and tortured. And as chronicled by Chester G. Hearn in Sorties into Hell: The Hidden War on Chichi Jima, these POWs were then executed and partially eaten by both Imperial Army and Navy officers. Their livers were fried for a dinner party.

Cannibalism toward POWs or even dead fellow soldiers was reportedly not unusual among Japanese troops. The trials and convictions of 30 Japanese soldiers and four officers on Guam, including the commanding General Joshio Taichibana for war crimes was unusual.

Aides to Abe said the visit to Chichijima was intended to show consideration for those areas that were not covered under the San Fransico Peace Treaty's restoration of sovereignty. But will he show consideration to the reasons for the need for the treaty?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bataan Death March Memorial Walk

Marine Color Guard preparing 
The Weirton Daily Times published the following article on April 10th about Wellsburg, West Virginia's annual Bataan Death March walk of remembrance. The Walk was held on the anniversary of the surrender of Bataan and the beginning of the March.

WELLSBURG - Area residents and visitors of various ages participated in a walk along Wellsburg's Yankee Trail and city streets Tuesday to remember the many Americans who died or suffered atrocities as participants in the Bataan Death March during World War II.

Leaders of the Brooke County Public Library and its American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Museum organized the event to promote awareness of the march, in which about 70,000 American and Filipino troops were forced to walk 65 miles through subtropical heat, without food or water.

After fighting for three months against Japanese invaders of the Philippine Islands, many were suffering already from fatigue, malaria or dysentery and succumbed to illness or exhaustion.

DEATH MARCH REMEMBERED — Marine Corps League Detachment 726, a group of retired Marines from the Pittsburgh area, led area residents and visitors in a walk Tuesday to commemorate the 71st anniversary of the Bataan Death March. The event was sponsored by the Brooke County Public Library and its American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Museum to promote awareness of the thousands of Americans and Filipinos who died or suffered atrocities during the march and as prisoners of war -- Warren Scott

"They didn't have any help. They were isolated. It was a very bad time," said Bill Burruss of Richmond, a member of the 59th Coast Artillery Echo Battery, a re-enactment group that brought two World War II-era Army Jeeps and an encampment to the library for the occasion.

Some were shot, stabbed with bayonets and beheaded with swords along the march.

Those who survived were transported to prisoner of war camps where they were forced to work for the Japanese war effort.

An estimated 600 to 650 Americans and 5,000 to 10,000 Filipinos died, said Jane Kraina, the museum's coordinator.

It's the second year the library and museum have held the walk. This year it drew many visitors from Pennsylvania, including the Marine Corps League Detachment 726, a group of retired Marines in the Pittsburgh area who perform military honors at several funerals each week.

Before forming a color guard to lead the walk, members visited the museum within the library.

"This is great," said Bob Daley, the group's commandant, as he surveyed the display created by Ed Jackfert, a local veteran who served in the Philippines [and was a POW of Japan]; and his wife, Henrietta.

"My brother was killed in Bataan as part of a work detail and I have a feeling for this," he added.

The display traces the experiences of the death march participants, from their capture, transport aboard crowded trains and "Hell ships" unknowingly targeted by fellow Allied forces and captivity in work camps, usually in support of the Japanese war effort.

Mary McCourts Blaine of Harrisburg, Pa. said her father, John, was among the POWs and once told her he felt fortunate to be involved in smelting copper because at least it kept him warm. He also recalled seeing a friend die while working on a ship for the Japanese, she said.

McCourts was among many who carried pictures of Death March participants, an addition to this year's walk aimed at making the event more personal.

Photos of Death March survivor Abie Abraham, a Butler, Pa. man who was recruited to help locate the remains of fallen American troops in the Philippines following the war, were displayed by Francis Dennison of Wellsburg and Abraham's widow, Christine.

A strong supporter and frequent visitor to the museum, Abraham died last year, and Brooke County's first Bataan Death March Walk was held in his honor.

Joe Vader of McKees Rocks, Pa., another strong supporter of the museum, also was on hand for this year's event. Vader encouraged many other veterans and their families to donate items for the museum as editor of The Quan, the newsletter of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, a nationwide group of veterans who served on the two Philippine islands.

He also donated the German box camera he acquired following his release from a POW camp and the photos he took of Japan before returning to the U.S.

Vader said of the walk, "I think it's great to give thanks to the men who lost their lives there."

He said he and other survivors "were lucky. We have a lot to be thankful for."

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Hug a former POW today

Dr. Lester Tenney, survivor of the Bataan Death March, a Hell Ship, and
a Mitsui coal mine on CNN 's Human Factor today.  
He was instrumental in encouraging Japan in 2009 
to apologize to the American POWs of Japan.

In 2009, President Barak Obama proclaimed April 9th to be National Former POW Recognition Day. This is an especially historic day for American and Filipino POWs of Japan.

On April 9, 1942, after four months of brutal fighting against a superior Japanese invasion force, exhausted, starving, and out of ammunition American forces on Bataan, The Philippines were surrendered by their commanding officers. It was the beginning of the infamous Bataan Death March--65 miles of Hell resulting in thousands of deaths of unarmed, sick American and Filipino prisoners of war. Japanese troops tortured, starved, looted, raped, humiliated, and murdered the POWs at will.

In Washington, DC, the Embassy of The Philippines will hold its annual memorial to the heroes of Bataan at the World War II Memorial followed by a reception and a showing of the documentary Forgotten Soldiers about the Filipino Scouts.

Over the weekend, in Chicago, the documentary film of the POW experience, Never the Same premiered. It will show again on May 25th at the MacArthur Museum in Norfolk, Virginia.

- - - - - - -

From the days of the Revolutionary War to the trials of our times, America has been blessed with an unbroken chain of patriots who have always stepped forward to serve. Whenever our country has come under attack, our men and women in uniform have risen to its defense. And whenever our freedoms have been threatened, they have responded with unyielding resolve -- sometimes trading their liberty to secure our own.

Today, we pay tribute to former prisoners of war who made that profound sacrifice. Caught behind enemy lines and stripped of their rights, these service members endured trials few of us can imagine. Many lost their lives. But in reflecting on the tragic price they paid, we also remember how their courage lit up even the darkest night. Where others might have given up or broken down, they dug in. They summoned an iron will. In their strength, we see the measure of their character; in their sacrifice, we see the spirit of a Nation.

As we express our gratitude to heroes who gave so much for their country, we remain mindful that no one gesture is enough to truly honor their service. For that, we must recommit to serving our veterans as well as they served us -- not just today, but every day. We must pursue a full accounting of those who are still missing. And for service members who have come home, we must never stop fighting to give them the stability and the support they have earned. That is the promise we renew today -- for former prisoners of war, for their families, and for every American who has sworn an oath to protect and defend.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, 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, 2013, as National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day. I call upon all Americans to observe this day of remembrance by honoring all American prisoners of war, our service members, and our veterans. 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 eighth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.