Friday, October 17, 2014

American POWs of Japan in Japan

At Japan's National Press Club October 15, 2015

5th Delegation of American Former 
POWs of Japan
October 11-20, 2014

 Anthony (Tony) COSTA, 94, lives in Concord, California, the town in which he was born on January 8, 1920.  After graduating from Mt. Diablo High School, he worked in the nearby oil refineries. In December 1939, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps. He became a member of the legendary 4th Marine Regiment, also known as the “China Marines”, stationed in Shanghai on Embassy guard duty. In late November 1941, the China Marines were transferred to Olongapo on The Philippines Islands.  After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, December 7, 1941, the most of the China Marines were moved to Corregidor Island in the Bay of Manila. On reaching Corregidor on 29 December, Pfc Costa was assigned to the newly formed 3d Battalion, Company L to engage in beach defenses until surrender on May 6, 1942. For three weeks, in the tropical sun with little food or water, the Japanese kept the POWs at the 92nd Garage area. Taken to Manila on May 25th, the survivors of Siege of Corregidor were paraded down Dewey Boulevard to Bilibid Prison on what was called the "March of Shamebefore the Filipinos and foreign residents. The following day they were moved by train and foot to the squalid Cabanatuan POW Camp. At Cabanatuan, 2,660 POWs died due to poor sanitation, starvation rations, limited medical care, and abuse.  On November 7, 1942, he was taken by the Hellship Nagato Maru via Formosa to the Japanese port of Moji, the main disembarkation point for most POW transport ships. He arrived by train on November 26th, Thanksgiving Day, in Osaka. He remembers that the rags and loincloths that had been adequate in the Philippines were insufficient for the biting cold found in Japan. The POWs were never given adequate clothing that first winter. With many of the POWs from Nagato Maru, Costa worked for Nippon Express as a slave stevedore in the freight yards in and around the city of Osaka at Umeda Bunsho Camp in Osaka (Osaka 2-D UMEDA). In March 1945, after his POW camp was firebombed, he was transferred to Osaka POW Camp 5-B TSURUGA were he was again a slave stevedore for Nippon Express and Tsuruga Transportation Company. Costa was liberated in September 1945. During the defense of Corregidor, 72 members of the 4th Marines were killed in action. Of the 1,487 members of the 4th Marines captured on the Philippines Islands, 474 died in captivity. Following repatriation, Mr. Costa returned to California where he became a heavy machinery factory worker. In 1949, Mr. Costa built his own house, in which he still lives, and became the construction inspector of his hometown of Concord. He received his Purple Heart and Bronze Star 50 years after the fact, but he is still fighting to receive his back pay for his time as a POW.

Daniel W. CROWLEY, 92, a Connecticut native lives in Simsbury, Connecticut.
In 1940, the age of 18, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps hoping to “take long trip somewhere at the expense of our country. He was sent to The Philippines in January 1941 and stationed in Manila at Nichols Field with the 24th Pursuit Group, V Interceptor Command, 17th Pursuit Squadron. With the start of the war after the after bombing of Pearl Harbor, he was sent to fight on the Bataan Peninsula as part of Provisional Air Corps Infantry Regiment. Although designated as infantry, U.S. Army refuses to this day to recognize the veterans as such and denies them their Combat Infantry badges. After the Bataan Peninsula was surrendered April 9, 1942, his unit made their way to the tip of Bataan and the town of Mariveles to surrender. Refusing to become prisoners, they hide among rocks on the shore and then made their way to Corregidor aboard life boats with sailors from various American ships that had been scuttled in Manila Bay and Mariveles Harbor. On Corregidor he became part of the 4th Marines regimental reserve under Maj. Max Schaeffer working shore defense. On May 6, 1942, he became a POW of Japan with the fall of Corregidor. On May 25th, he and other POWs who were interned in the 92nd Garage Area were paraded through Manila on the “March of Shame.” He was then taken by rail and foot to the POW Camp Cabanatuan. In the summer of 1942, Crowley was sent to the island of Palawan where he labored with other POWs building an airstrip. He was returned to Manila in early 1944. On December 14, 1944, the Japanese, believing an U.S. invasion imminent, herded his friends, the remaining 150 prisoners at Palawan into a shelter, dumped in gasoline, and set them on fire while machine-gunning escapees. Some prisoners did succeed to escape the massacre, but 139 men were killed. Crowley was sent to Japan via Formosa on March 24, 1944 aboard the Hellship, Taikoku Maru arriving April 3rd. He was taken to Hitachi then to Tochigi, Japan where he was a slave laborer mining copper ore for Furukawa Kogyo. (today’s Furukawa Company Group) at Ashio POW Camp Tokyo 9-B until the end of the war. Returning home, Crowley became an insurance agent and raised a family. He says that veterans who were held prisoners of war by the Japanese were stigmatized."Corporations here in the states thought we were nuts," he said. "The majority of us re-joined the Army or worked for the postal service." Crowley believes he enjoyed a good life in Simsbury, but he will never forget the years stolen from him by the Japanese. "It's a living thing with me," he said. "It's not ancient history at all." His most recent efforts to recognize those with whom he served was advocating for the state legislature to name the bridge on Route 185 in Simsbury the “Bataan Corregidor Memorial Bridge” in memory of those soldiers who fought alongside Crowley and who lost their lives at the Battle of Bataan and the Battle of Corregidor. The dedication took place on December 7, 2013.
POW#: 101

Warren JORGENSON, 93, lives in Bennington, Nebraska. He grew up in a small town outside of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. After high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1939 and was stationed in Shanghai by May 1940 with the 4th Marine Regiment, the legendary “China Marines.” They were deployed to the Philippines in November 1941, arriving days before the war began. He was wounded during the defense of Corregidor.. After the surrender of Corregidor on May 6, 1942 he was kept for nearly a year on the Island as a POW laborer and buried the dead. He was moved to Clark Field in 1943 working maintain the air strip. He was sent to Japan on August 27, 1944 aboard the Hellship Noto-Maru. Jorgenson remembers that there was not enough room to even stand up as they were stacked together. The tropical heat created a living hell and then the hatch covers were closed. The hold was airless and the heat unbearable. Sick, starved, and suffocating the POWs had only buckets provided for bathroom facilities. In Japan, he was taken to Sendai #6 (Hanawa) POW camp where he was a slave laborer for Mitsubishi Goushi Company (today’s Mitsubishi Materials) mining cooper ore. The mine closed in 1978 and was turned into a museum, the Osarizawa Mine Historical Site that recounts the 1300-year history of mining the mountain. Visitors can also go through some of the main tunnels. An amusement park and museum were opened in 1982 asMine Land Osarizawa.” In 2008, the site was renovated with the amusement section, Cosmo Adventure [sic], focused on space-themed indoor shooting games. The museum makes no mention of the slave laborers who worked the mine during the war. After repatriation, Mr. Jorgenson received a degree in Commercial Science from Drake University on the G.I. Bill.  He then went on to work in the phonograph music industry first at Capitol Records and then at Musicland.
POW#: 407

Oral C. NICHOLS, 93, lives in Carlsbad, New Mexico.  He is a 1939 graduate of Woodbury College (now Woodbury University) in Burbank, California.  Following graduation, he worked as a bookkeeper and as miner in California. He then joined Morrison-Knudsen, a Boise, Idaho-based construction company that was working to upgrade the airfield on Wake Island in the Pacific. When the war started on December 8, 1941, he participated, as a civilian medic in the legendary defense of Wake Island. For nearly two weeks, a garrison of some 400 Marines and a handful of the 1,500 civilians working on the atoll fought off an invading Japanese armada. It was the only time during the Pacific War that a Japanese amphibious assault was repelled. The battle was a rare example of success in the War's early months. After the island fell on December 23, 1941, the Japanese considered him and all the civilians as prisoners of war. He was sent with the majority of POWs in January 1942 to China. The POWs left on Wake were tasked with finishing the air strip and hard labor. On October 7, 1943, the 98 remaining POWs were bound with barbed wire and machined gunned to death. A lone, still unknown survivor scratched the date on a rock near the massacre. He was tracked down and beheaded. In China, Nichols was first placed at the Woosung Camp  outside of Shanghai. In December 1942, he was moved to Kiangwan another camp in the area. Nichols typing skills garnered him a clerk’s position at Kiangwan’s interpreter’s office. The chief interpreter, Isami Ishihara, was called the Beast of the East as he was exceedingly sadistic and was sentenced to death after the war. Nichols was eventually moved to Japan in May 1945 to Sendai Camp #11 Kamakita near Aomori in Northern Honshu. There he was a slave laborer in an open pit iron mine for Nippon Mining (today’s JX Nippon Mining and Materials). After repatriation, Nichols worked a variety of jobs in California and Arizona before moving back to his family’s ranch in New Mexico. It was not until 1981 that Congress enacted the bill that became a public law granting Nichols and the other civilians on Wake status as war veterans and provided them with honorable discharges and attendant benefits as U.S. Navy veterans.
POW#: 4410 and 4406

William R. “Bill” SANCHEZ, 96, a California native lives in Monterey Park, California. He grew up on the Eastside of Los Angeles.  He went on to study international trade and finance at Woodbury College (now Woodbury University) in Burbank, California and enrolled in graduate classes at the University of Southern California.  Believing that war was on the horizon, in 1940 he enlisted in the U.S. Army and asked to go to The Philippines. "I figured the Philippines is adventure," Sanchez recalled. He became an Army Sergeant with 59th Coast Artillery Regiment, Battery “I” assigned to Corregidor first working intelligence on General Douglas MacArthur’s staff and then harbor defense against the invading Japanese. He remembers he was in combat continually for five months until the island was surrendered on May 6, 1942. Battery “I” was the first to fire on the enemy. After surrender, he and fellow POW Harry Corre appeared in the famous staged photo at the entrance of Malinta Tunnel of the American surrenders with their hands in the air to Japanese forces. He, along with all the Americans captured on Corregidor, was forced to billet for three weeks at the 92nd Garage area on island with no protection from the sun and little food or water before they were moved to the main island. In Manila, the Japanese forced the survivors of Siege of Corregidor onto what is now called the "March of Shamea “parade” through Manila from Dewey Boulevard to Bilibid Prison. From there, he was taken to the POW camp at Cabanatuan.  Sanchez was among the first group of POWs moved to Japan. Deep in the cramped and fifthly hold of Hellship the Tottori Maru, Sanchez began his voyage to Japan on October 8, 1942. The ship traveled to Formosa, then Korea, and finally arrived in Moji, Japan on November 11th.   In Japan, he was sent to Omori Tokyo Base Camp #1 work on reclaiming land.  Sanchez also worked as a slave stevedore for Nippon Tsuun (today’s Nippon Express) at the railway yards in Tokyo. Returning home, he worked for various companies in international trade. His work found him returning to Japan several times. He is an avid Los Angeles Angels baseball fan.
Library of Congress Veterans History Project:

Jack W. SCHWARTZ, 98, lives in Hanford, California. He graduated from Hollywood High School when he was 15 years old.  At the California Institute of Technology, he earned both his BA and MS degrees in civil engineering. He worked at various engineering jobs until joining the U.S. Navy in 1940 as a lieutenant junior grade in the Civil Engineering Corps. After Schwartz’s first Navy assignment at Pearl Harbor, he was transferred to Guam in January 1941. On Guam, he was a Public Works officer, in charge of maintenance and inspecting new construction. The Japanese Navy attacked Guam several hours after Pearl Harbor on December 8, 1941. The Battle of Guam lasted barely two days with the tiny Marine and Navy garrison quickly overwhelmed by Japan’s invading forces. On 10 December 1941, Guam became the first American territory formally surrendered to an enemy in WWII. One month later, Schwartz and most of the officers on Guam were boarded aboard Mitsui’s passenger ship Argentina Maru and transported to the Japanese port of Tadotsu on the island of Shikoku. Arriving in Japan on January 16, 1942, he was taken to the Zentsuji POW Camp about 400 miles west of Tokyo. During WWII, it held mainly officers plus enlisted ranks from Guam & Wake Island. It was used by the Japanese as a “show camp” for the Red Cross with marginally better conditions than others. At the camp, he was repeatedly beaten and put on reduced rations for asking camp officials for better food and medical supplies. Officers did not have to work and he passed his time doing calculus problems and macramé. Enlisted POWs at the camp were slave stevedores for Nippon Express (still in operation under the same name) at the Sakaide Rail Yards and the Port of Takamatsu. In September 1942, he was transferred to Tokyo 2B Kawasaki (Mitsui Madhouse). Again, as an officer, he was not required to work and did not participate in the slave stevedore work at the camp. However, he was the senior officer and thus was in charge of recording work hours and pay (most of which was never distributed). He was returned to Zentsuji in August of 1944. The camp was dismantled and he was sent in June 1945 to do subsistence farming at POW Camp 11-B Rokuroshi (Camp Mallette) in the Japanese Alps. With severely restricted rations, overcrowding, and no winter clothes, all the men at the camp were convinced that they would not survive the winter. Hidden in the mountains, the POW camp was not liberated until September 8, 1945. After the war, Schwartz remained in the Navy, retiring in 1962. In Hanford, California he was Public Works Director and City Engineer for 18 years.  Since retiring in 1980, Schwartz has been on many city and county work groups, including eight years as a City Planning Commissioner and five years on the Kings County Grand Jury.
POW#: 171

Darrell D. STARK, 91, lives in Stafford Springs, Connecticut. He grew up in a large migrant labor family in Oklahoma and joined the U.S. Army when he was 17 on March 5, 1941. He was assigned to the 31st Infantry Regiment United States, M company and was immediately sent to the Philippines Islands aboard the USAT Republic. He did his basic training on the Philippines where he was assigned to a heavy weapons company and was a weapons carrier and runner. With the Japanese invasion of The Philippines on December 8, 1941, the 31st Infantry covered the withdrawal of American and Filipino forces to the Bataan Peninsula. Despite starvation, disease, no supplies, obsolete weapons, and often dud ammunition, the peninsula’s defenders fought the Japanese to a standstill for four months. On April 9, 1942, Bataan was surrendered to Japan. At the time, Stark was delirious with malaria in Bataan Hospital #2. He did not participate in the 65-mile Bataan Death March and was instead transported by truck to Bilibid Prison in Manila. From there, he was eventually sent to Cabanatuan. Stark was soon sent to work in the Davao Penal Colony, a prison camp on the southern Philippines island of Mindanao, where he and 2,000 other prisoners farmed 1,000 acres of rice and 600 acres of fruits and vegetables. Japan closed the camp on Mindanao in late spring of 1944. On July 4, 1944 Stark was sent to Japan with 1,024 Allied POWs aboard the Hellship Sekiho Maru (also known as the Canadian Inventor or the Mati Mati Maru or Wait, Wait Ship). After 62 days, and stops in Formosa and Japan, the freighter arrived at the Japanese port of Moji on September 1, 1944. From there, he was sent to Nagoya #5-B Yokkaichi POW camp where became a slave laborer at a copper foundry owned by Ishihara Sangyo Kaisha in Nagoya, a port city south of Tokyo. Much of the work involved melting down bells seized from churches. Other Allied POW slave laborers at this POW camp mined coal or manufactured sulfuric acid for the company. The Yokkaichi facility and company, Ishihara Sangyo Kaisha (ISK), where Stark slaved still exists. After an earthquake in May 1945, he was among the POWs moved to Nagoya-07B-Toyama to work as slave laborers for Nihon Sotatsu (Nippon Soda Company. Ltd.). He was liberated on September 5, 1945. Stark returned to the United States and spent 18 months in a San Francisco hospital recovering from disease and injuries. According to Army records, roughly half of his regiment, 1,155 men, died in captivity. He moved to Connecticut working several jobs until he became Deputy Jailer for Tolland County. He went on to become a Captain with the State of Connecticut Department of Corrections, where he set up the Department’s Correctional Transportation Unit (CTU). Since his retirement in 1972, he has spoken widely to students about the history of the defense of the Philippines and to veterans who suffer, like him, from PTSD.
POW#:  563
Library of Congress Veterans History Project:

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