Friday, December 30, 2016

Does your DNA match? Find your missing POW

In 1946, nine remains were recovered from Cabanatuan Grave #110, Cabanatuan Cemetery #1 and moved to Manila Cemetery #2.  A year later, they were once again moved to the Manila Mausoleum at Nichols Field for the purpose of analyzing and identifying the remains.   

Of the nine men listed only Pfc Kokitas was identified.  The analysts unsuccessfully attempted to associate these eight remains with the eight unresolved individuals believed to have been buried in Grave 110. 

After a second attempt to identify the remains in 1949, the CIP analysts from HQ, AGRS PHILCOM ZONE recommended that these remains be classified as unidentifiable.  In 1950, the AGRS interred these eight unknowns in the Manila American Cemetery.

Researchers at the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) have collected documents and assessed historical evidence concerning Cabanatuan POW Camp cases for many years.  DPAA is engaged in a long-term project to fully account for the Cabanatuan missing.  This will involve a comprehensive review of all files associated with Cabanatuan, including the collection of genealogical data and DNA reference samples from the prisoners’ next of kin. 

Currently, DPAA must have DNA samples of 60% or Family Reference Samples (FRS) on file for each grave before the U.S. government will consider approving a disinterment for the purpose of identification.  As of 31 October 2016, the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) has no FRSs on file for Grave 110. 

If you are a next of kin of one of the men listed below and you wish for the DPAA to try to identify their remains, please contact Fred Baldassarre.

Individuals Recorded as Buried in Grave 110, Cabanatuan Cemetery #1
Service Number
Branch of Service
2d Lt
31st Infantry
U.S. Army
Bernardy, Donald L.
4th Marine Regiment
U.S. Marine Corps
Gunn, John G.
31st Infantry
U.S. Army
Bailey, Gerald J.
19th Bomb Group
U.S. Army Air Corps
Ramirez, Juan
515th Coast Artillery
U.S. Army
Grier, Joe R.
S Sgt
27th Bomb Group
U.S. Army Air Corps
Wilson, Woodrow
S Sgt
24th Pursuit Group
U.S. Army Air Corps
Hueston ,Joe I.
24th Pursuit Group
U.S. Army Air Corps
Kokitas, Albert J.
31st Infantry
U.S. Army

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A POW Merry Christmas

Painting by Gustav Potthoff survivor of Bridge over the River Kwai

Prisoner of war Potthoff, 94, used art to convey life in captivity

The Republic, Columbus, IN, 12/25/16 

Gustav T. Potthoff, a Columbus resident known for his paintings and the brutal conditions he endured as a World War II prisoner of war, has died.

He died at his home Thursday at age 94. Potthoff is survived by his wife, Adele; and their two children. Services are pending at Barkes, Weaver & Glick Funeral Homes.

Potthoff moved to Columbus in 1965 to begin a career with Cummins Engine Co. It was over the ensuing years that local residents learned of the cruelty he suffered, and later the joy and catharsis he experienced in creating artwork.

Gustav Potthoff created this painting of an angel he said was by his side while he was a prisoner 
in World War II, and that follows him everywhere. Potthoff died Thursday at age 94.

He was born in Indonesia March 11, 1922, on the island of Maluku, near New Guinea and Australia, and raised in a Dutch colonial orphanage. Potthoff was a mechanic in a Dutch Indies Army battalion when he was captured by Japanese forces in 1941. Potthoff and about 1,800 other soldiers were sent to Burma to work on the Burma-Thailand railroad project that would later become widely known in the movie “The Bridge on the River Kwai.” The movie was fictional but based on real-life events.

Potthoff was a prisoner for 3½ years. He suffered from cholera, dysentery and pneumonia. He saw fellow prisoners beaten, killed at random, starved and become ill. When he was freed in 1945, only 300 of the original 1,800 prisoners he was with had survived.

After his release, Potthoff went to Holland, but in 1962 he immigrated to the United States — specifically Indianapolis. Three years later he arrived in Columbus with the help of First Christian Church as his sponsor.

In 1986, Potthoff and his wife became American citizens.

It was after Gus Potthoff retired from Cummins in 1987 that he used painting to depict memories of his time as a prisoner of war, including the forced labor of constructing the railroad. They were a way to tell what happened during his imprisonment and remember those who didn’t survive. His paintings often included images of elephants, spirits of the dead, the lush countryside, railroads, bridges and angels.

“The angels are who was looking out for me. They’re still looking out for me,” Potthoff told The Republic in 2012.

He painted many works, but never kept count of how many. Potthoff never sold his works; he always gave them away.

Potthoff’s works were displayed throughout the community, such as at IUPUC, YES Cinema, the Columbus Learning Center, the Bartholomew County Public Library and the Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum.

He was a familiar figure at the Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum at Columbus Municipal Airport, where he was a member of the 95ers, a group of volunteers engaged in veterans support activities.

Potthoff’s contributions to the community and his story of survival earned the admiration of local residents, who made sure he received the honor he deserved and help when needed.

When climbing the steps to his front porch had become a difficult labor, two fellow members in the 95ers — Wendell Ross and Pete Jenkins — built a ramp up those steps for their friend.

“We didn’t look on it as a chore,” Ross, former manager of Columbus Municipal Airport and a U.S. Navy veteran, told The Republic in 2012. “Gus has gone through so much in his life and served as an inspiration to anyone who ever met him. It was really a labor of love.”

Sept. 16, 2016, marked the third consecutive year that Bartholomew County honored local residents such as Potthoff, who were prisoners of war or listed as missing in action. They were honored at a local observance of national POW-MIA Recognition Day, which is the third Friday of every September.

Organizer Robert Miller said it’s important to honor, remember and never forget these veterans.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Japan reconsiders and reinterprets the Pearl Harbor attack

Noboru Takeshita
And ignores the Prime Minister's upcoming visit

BY MARK SCHREIBER, a Tokyo-based writer

THE JAPAN TIMES, December 24, 2016

In May, U.S. President Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to make a historic visit to Hiroshima, the city that became the birthplace of the age of nuclear warfare. It should come as no surprise that Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, is scheduled to make a reciprocal gesture of reconciliation this week, possibly making him the first sitting Japanese prime minister to visit the USS Arizona Memorial.

So far, however, news coverage in Japan has been disappointingly spotty, partly because the story has been eclipsed by the usual year-end roundups, interspersed with breaking news stories: the Osprey crash in Okinawa and resulting blowback; the terrorist incident in Berlin; heavy pollution in Beijing; and President-elect Donald Trump’s latest tweet.

In December, the January 2017 issue of prestigious monthly magazine Bungei Shunju was released with a 13-page essay by history critic Masayasu Hosaka titled “Pearl Harbor: The true nature of the blunder.” Though written long before the announcement of Abe’s upcoming visit, it nonetheless provides some scholarly insights into how Japanese reacted to news of the attack 75 years ago.

At 7 a.m., on Monday, Dec. 8, 1941, a young NHK announcer named Morio Tateno told radio listeners, “The Naval department of Imperial headquarters announced that at 6 a.m. today the Imperial Navy, during predawn hours, initiated hostilities with the British and American navies in the Western Pacific.”

On the night of Dec. 8, Prime Minister Hideki Tojo invited the heads of the army and navy to celebrate with a Chinese-style repast at the prime minister’s residence, during which he effused over the “better than anticipated results” of the attack and expressed anticipation of President Franklin Roosevelt’s imminent downfall. Extra editions of newspapers were passed out to pedestrians on the streets and stirring martial tunes such as “Warship March” emanated from loudspeakers. Company workers at their morning assemblies were exhorted to exclaim “banzai” cheers. Stock prices on the Tokyo exchange shot up by 10 percent.

As Hosaka observes in Bungei Shunju, “The exhilaration over the successful attack on Pearl Harbor was the beginning of what was to become a stream of glorified lies on the progression of the war.”

But, unlike Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, who went to war with the specific goal of recovering their former empires’ lost territories, Japan had no clearly defined purpose for initiating hostilities.

“Having gone to war with vague goals,” he wrote, “Japan had no means of determining how to bring the war to an end. Even after Tojo’s Cabinet fell, it could not speedily halt the war.”

This year, several magazines chose to run articles about Pearl Harbor with strongly revisionist slants. The January issue of conservative monthly Rekishi-tu featured two, one that accused the wily President Roosevelt of “maneuvering” Japan into attacking the U.S., and another maintaining U.S. intelligence had broken the Japanese naval code before Pearl Harbor and, therefore, had advance knowledge of the attack. The January issue of Shincho 45 magazine ran an article that claimed British leader Winston Churchill knew of the Japanese plans but chose not to inform the Americans. Move on folks, nothing new here.

In a live telephone interview on New York’s WABC Radio, Tokyo-based American entertainer Dave Spector remarked, “In America, it’s ‘Remember Pearl Harbor.’ In Japan it’s more like ‘Forget Pearl Harbor.’ “

Nonetheless, in a poll of 959 people conducted earlier this month by NHK, 34 percent of respondents said they “strongly approve” of Abe’s visit, with another 48 percent giving their qualified approval. Only 3 percent voiced completely negative opinions.

On the other hand, Sunday Mainichi (Dec. 25) opined, perhaps Abe’s not the right person to go there. After all, over the past several years it has been the Emperor and Empress who traveled to Saipan, Palau and the Philippines to console the war dead. A visitor from the Imperial Family would carry more weight than a prime minister and, Abe’s good intentions notwithstanding, it’s unlikely his visit will erase the lingering U.S. sentiment that the attack on Pearl Harbor was a “cowardly act.”

Contradicting most news reports, meanwhile, it appears that Abe might not necessarily be the first sitting Japanese prime minister to visit the USS Arizona Memorial after all. Shukan Post (Jan. 1-6) claims the former Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita also went there in June 1988, during his tenure as Japan’s leader.

Takeshita, while traveling aboard a government-chartered Japan Airlines DC-10, stopped in Hawaii on the return leg of a summit meeting in Toronto. The magazine’s check of airport flight records notes that Takeshita’s aircraft first flew from Toronto via Chicago to the island of Maui on June 24, for a two-night stay. At 8 a.m. on June 26, he flew to Oahu, and returned to Tokyo’s Haneda at 6:23 p.m.

Allowing for a flight of 30 minutes from Maui to Oahu, and the seven to eight hours flying time between Honolulu and Haneda, Takeshita would have had a stopover of from one to two hours in Oahu. No records exist, however, of his having gone to Pearl Harbor.

“While no record of such a visit exists, there have been cases where visitors do not go through military channels,” Daniel Martinez, chief historian at the USS Arizona Memorial, explained to Shukan Post.

A member of Takeshita’s entourage says that the prime minister slipped away to Pearl Harbor while the others in his entourage went golfing, so only a few Diet members could have accompanied him. Efforts to identify other eyewitnesses were inconclusive, but the story’s source emphasized, “I’ve only been to the Arizona memorial once, so my recollection couldn’t possibly be wrong.”

The Dec. 24 Tokyo Shimbun can claim bragging rights for nick-of-time historical research. It has discovered that two other prime ministers, Ichiro Hatoyama and Nobusuke Kishi, also visited Pearl Harbor during their tenures, in 1956 and 1957 respectively. The Hawaii Hochi newspaper covered the events.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Buy the 75th Anniversary mug commenorating the Defense of the Philippines

Please support our research and remembrance of the American POW experience with Imperial Japan by purchasing our commemorate mug of this year's 75th Anniversary of Defense of the Philippines.

For tax-deductible donations of $35 or more we will send you this statement mug. CLICK HERE TO ORDER. Please remember to include your address.Thank you

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Another date that will live in infamy

December 14, 1944

150 American POWs were forced in trenches, doused with gasoline, set afire, and machine gunned to death. Eleven men escaped and survived.

POW Families speak in Japan

On December 7, 2016, the Institute for Contemporary Asian Studies at Temple University's Japan Campus in Japan hosted its 6th dialogue with former POWs. This time, no POWs were able to participate. Instead, widows and children traveled to Japan to see where their loved ones were slave laborers.

There is an assumption that reconciliation has been achieved and that it is a distinct end point. None of this is true. Reconciliation is a process and a journey. The trip, decades too late and hard fought for, is merely a beginning. Speaking in public of their painful family history was very difficult for these women.

The introduction of the panel members was abysmal. Here you can find a link to fuller, researched profiles of the POWs discussed.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

War Carnage in the Philippines

Everyone remembers the attack on Pearl Harbor. What we endured in the Far East was no less tragic, but almost unforgivable.


Wall Street Journal Online, December 7, 2016

Dec. 8 was my Pearl Harbor. Barely nine hours after the Japanese destroyed most of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, they began their invasion of the Philippines. My tank battalion, stationed at Fort Stotsenburg in the Philippines, was just as surprised and no more prepared for war than the crews of the battleships sunk earlier that day.

The catastrophe of Pearl Harbor still overshadows the embarrassing defeat inflicted on American forces in the Philippines. Whereas Japan attacked Hawaii for 90 minutes and never returned, the battles in the defense of the Philippines continued for five months, followed by widespread guerrilla warfare and the nightmarish internment of combatants and civilians. This culminated in a ferocious American campaign starting in October 1944 to retake the Islands.

By midmorning on Dec. 8, Imperial Army bombers attacked two U.S. bases on Luzon, Tuguegarao Field and the Baguio headquarters of the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East. Shortly after noon, Japan’s Imperial Navy bombers and fighters attacked Clark Field and Iba Field. My 192nd Tank Battalion was waiting for them at Clark Field.

We sat in our tanks surrounding the airfield and prepared to defend it from a ground attack, which never came. The antiaircraft guns of the 200th Coast Artillery fired too low to be effective. Their 1932 vintage ammunition and corroded fuses made the guns unreliable. Maybe one of every six shells actually exploded.

We watched as the first flights of Japanese bombers blew apart Clark’s hangars, barracks and warehouses. Our planes were on the field, fueled, ammunition loaded, and lined up wingtip-to-wingtip as the pilots and crew had lunch. These were torn apart not just by the waves of bombers but also by low-flying Mitsubishi Zeros. More than 100 planes were lost, and the human casualties amounted to 55 killed and more than 100 wounded.

When combined with the other losses on that one day of war, the U.S. Far East Air Force was eliminated as an effective fighting force. And with it disappeared the ability to conduct a realistic defense of the Philippines.

I was literally fresh off the boat. My tank battalion had left San Francisco on Oct. 27 aboard the USAT Hugh L. Scott. We arrived in Manila on Nov. 20—Thanksgiving Day. I remember my feast of hot dogs, while the officers had turkey at their club.

The 192nd battalion had boarded the troopship with little to no training. We were 588 men, nearly all activated National Guard, from Maywood, Ill., Fort Knox, Ky., Clinton, Ohio, and Janesville, Wis. For a few weeks in September and October, we practiced tank warfare with broomsticks for guns, markers for heavy tanks and a handful of 1930s vintage tanks.

Never once did we practice on the 108 light tanks that were sent with us to the Philippines. Thus during Japan’s raid on Clark Field, our cannons were silent. Amid the chaos, we desperately searched for the shells. We found them as the last Japanese bomb fell that day: They were under the radio operator’s seat, my seat.

Throughout Asia on Dec. 8, American and Allied soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines all found themselves at the mercy of Imperial Japan. It is forgotten that the Japanese also descended on Guam, Wake Island, Malaya, Singapore and Hong Kong. At the time, few believed that the Japanese would be able to strike so far from home and in so many places.

That day in China, nearly 300 U.S. Marines, sailors, and diplomats became the first American prisoners of war. In the following weeks and months, American soldiers and civilians throughout Japan’s newly occupied territories became POWs. They all endured more than three years of confinement in squalid camps or slave labor at such places as the Thai-Burma death railroad.

For me, my battalion soon met advancing Japanese tanks and infantry as we covered the withdrawal of American and Filipino forces into the Bataan Peninsula. We held on for four months fighting with dwindling food, medicine and materiel. Promised reinforcements from the U.S. never came. Fearing a bloodbath, our commanders surrendered us on April 9, 1942.

What followed was maybe worse: the Bataan Death March. Then prison camps with little food, minimal shelter, rampant disease, and sociopathic guards; “hell ships” to Japan where men suffocated or lost their mind in the noxious dark; and slave labor at POW camps in Japan, Formosa, Korea, and China.

Every day I am asked if I have forgiven the Japanese for their brutal treatment of me as a prisoner. I lost more friends to abuse and starvation as POWs than from combat. More prisoners died on “hell ships” than Marines in the Pacific.

I have forgiven, as at 96 I do not want to live with all the hate. But it is just as hard to forgive the short-sightedness of the commanders who put us in harm’s way on Dec. 7 and 8.

Mr. Tenney was a member of the 192nd Tank Battalion, Company B, that defended the Philippines in World War II. He lives in San Diego.

Eighth POW delegation to Japan this week

Widows and Children of POWs of Japan
 Undertake trip of reconciliation
Pearl Harbor Week

Nine widows and children of American former prisoners of war of Imperial Japan are visiting Japan this week as guests of the Japanese government. They are the 8th delegation of the U.S.-Japan POW Friendship Program to promote reconciliation between the two countries. This successful program began in 2010.

The families represent five American POWs of Japan who were members of the U.S. Army Coast Artillery Corps, U.S. Army Quartermasters Corps, 4th Marines, and U.S. Army Air Corps. Japan attacked the Philippines and other American Pacific outposts hours after their surprise air raid on Pearl Harbor. All the men fought on Corregidor in the Philippines to defend the then-American colony against invading Japanese forces. They were surrendered in May 1942 after a five-month battle and all endured over three years of brutal captivity.

The delegation is composed of:

ROSE HENDERSON BRIDGES, 87, of Spartanburg, South Carolina and her daughter Mona Woodring. Mrs. Bridges is the widow of Talmadge Scott Bridges who served on Fort Hughes and Corregidor in the Philippines with the U.S. Army 59th Coast Artillery Corps (CAC). His last POW camp, Osaka #5-B Tsuruga POW Camp, was near the Tsuruga Port on the Sea of Japan were he was a stevedore for Tsuruga Transportation Company (today’s Tsuruga Kairiku Unyu K.K.).

KRISTIN DAHLSTROM, 78, of Des Plains, Illinois. She is the daughter of William Jesse Ellis, Jr. a civilian volunteer to the U.S. Army. Quartermaster Corps. He survived the infamous December 1944 “Hell ship” Oryoku Maru voyage to Japan only to die February 1945 in Japan at Fukuoka #3 Yahata/Tobata/Kokura POW Camp (Nippon Steel, today’s Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal).

DORIS ELLIS DeVIVO, 90, of Council Bluffs, Iowa, and her granddaughter, Mackenzie Schnitker. Mrs. DeVivo is the widow of Frank DeVivo who served on Corregidor in the Philippines with the U.S. Army 59th Coast Artillery Corps (CAC). He was liberated in northern Japan at Sendai #8B Kosaka POW Camp associated with copper mine and smelter owned by Fujita-gumi Construction Company (today’s Dowa Holdings Co., Ltd.).

RUTH NICHOLS WILBER SHEAVES, 89, of Colorado Springs, Colorado and her daughter, Linda Van Skike. Mrs. Sheaves is the widow of Charles “Ted” Owen Wilber who served with the U.S. Army Air Corps 19th Bomb Group at Clark Field on the Philippines. Mr. Wilber was liberated from the Tokyo 2B Kawasaki aka Mitsui Camp #2 POW camp know as the “Mitsui Madhouse.”

PATRICIA THOMPSON, 84, of Colorado Springs, Colorado and her daughter, Maureen Cole. Mrs. Thompson is the widow of Clarence A. Thompson who fought on Corregidor with the 4th Marines, the China Marines. He was liberated from Fukuoka-7B-Futase POW camp in southern Japan where he mined coal for Nittetsu-Futase Tanko Kaisha (today’s Nittetsu Mining Co., Ltd.).

Full profiles of the POWs represented can be found HERE.

They will visit the sites of their loved ones’ imprisonment and rescue as well as several Japanese cultural properties.

This is the 8th trip of this much appreciated Japanese government-funded program of remembrance and reconciliation. Jan Thompson, president of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society that works with the U.S. State Department to identify participants, welcomes the inclusion of POW widows and children in the program.

Ms. Thompson said, “It confirms, as does Prime Minister’s Shinzo’s Abe’s upcoming visit to the Pearl Harbor memorial, Japan’s commitment to overcoming its dark history and shows a modern understanding that the traumas of past atrocities and war crimes are intergenerational. The goodwill and healing resulting from these trips is a model for more Japanese efforts to acknowledge and console its victims. The result strengthens the personal ties that undergird the U.S.-Japan Alliance.”

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

A piece of the heart: experimental heart valve saves POW of Japan

Mike visits Lester at his home 
Heart Matters: An Irvine Company Designs a Heart Valve that Saves a World War II Veteran
November 10, 2016 Just Irvine

Two Southern California gentlemen born decades apart. One is Michael A. Mussallem, Chairman of the Board and CEO of one of Irvine’s largest companies, Edwards Lifesciences. The other is Dr. Lester I. Tenney, a World War II veteran, survivor of the infamous Bataan Death March and former prisoner of war of the Japanese military. Their paths would cross seven years ago when Lester was told that he had only one year to live.

Edwards Lifesciences in Irvine

Edwards Lifesciences (NYSE: EW) is a medical technology company headquartered in Irvine specializing in heart valves and monitoring devices for the circulatory system. Edwards takes its namesake from engineer Miles “Lowell” Edwards who became interested in healing the human heart due to his own childhood experience with rheumatic fever which can cause scaring of heart valves and heart failure.

He teamed up with Dr. Albert Starr and developed the first known successful mechanical heart valve ever implanted into a human patient. Edwards founded Edwards Laboratories in Santa Ana, California. Following restructuring, Edwards Lifesciences spun off and became an independent and publicly traded company in 2000. Today, one of the company’s most notable technological innovations is their transcatheter aortic heart valve. 2)

Lester Tenney, a WWII Veteran Receives Edwards’ Transcatheter Aortic Heart Valve

During World War II, Lester served in the US Army in the 192nd Tank Battalion. In the spring of 1942, following what would be one of the largest surrenders in US military history; Lester was captured in the Philippines by the Japanese Imperial Army. He was forced to walk the Bataan Death March and put to work as a slave laborer until he was liberated in 1945.

In his 1995 memoir, My Hitch in Hell, Lester recounts his harrowing story of surviving the Bataan Death March and then being sent to Japan to work as a slave laborer for a Mitsui coal mine. More recently, he wrote The Courage to Remember, a book on how he was able to overcome his post traumatic stress syndrome from his wartime experiences. In his book, he says that he found peace by letting go of bitterness and hatred. He concludes that the act of forgiving others was a gift he gave to himself. “Because of forgiveness, I am a prisoner no more.” wrote Lester.

In 2009, decades after his liberation, Lester was invited to lead a delegation of former POWs to Japan to receive a long-awaited apology from the Japanese government for the inhumane treatment they suffered during World War II. But at 90 years old, Lester’s health was failing.

Lester’s cardiologist told him that he needed a new aortic heart valve but because of his age, he was not a candidate for invasive open heart surgery. He was told if they did nothing, he would have maybe one year to live. Unable to accept this prognosis, Lester began researching less invasive treatment options.
I feel my life was saved by entering the Heart Valve Trial of Edwards Lifesciences. I was very lucky to have found them when I did. Thank you Edwards for these seven extra years. – Lester Tenney
“I believe strongly that we must be in charge of our own body. We can’t go through life giving that responsibility to someone else just because he or she is a medical doctor. We must be a part of the team that takes care of us. In fact, we are the most important piece of this puzzle.” says Lester.

He found out that Scripps, a hospital near his home in San Diego, was conducting a new clinical trial of the Edwards transcatheter aortic heart valve replacement (“TAVR”) treatment. Using this method, a patient is able to receive a new heart valve via a catheter instead of by open heart surgery. In the spring of 2010, Lester became a member of the clinical trial and received an Edwards heart valve. Today, the TAVR treatment has become a widely available option for patients needing an aortic heart valve replacement.

Just months after this life saving procedure, Lester traveled to Japan and received an official apology from then Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada. Looking back, Lester says “I picked up seven years that I never would have had.”

Patient and Innovation Focused Culture at Edwards

What does it take for a company to achieve breakthrough therapies for patients such as the TAVR? CEO Mike Mussallem says you have to accept the very real risk of failure on the path to success.

You once said, “I think if you really want to be an innovator in this world, you need to have the willingness to reach and the willingness to fail.” How has this philosophy helped Edwards reach for new breakthroughs in medical technology?

Mike: The recognition that we need to reach and be willing to fail comes from our patient- and innovation-focused culture at Edwards. We became an independent company 16 years ago because we wanted to be able to innovate more quickly and effectively for patients, and invest more resources in research and development.

Whenever we do bold things and pursue truly breakthrough therapies for patients, the opportunity for failure is real and we need to be able to tolerate failure. Only in failure can we learn and find the answers to the big healthcare challenges that we pursue. We embrace a “shots on goal” mentality as we innovate, which means that we’re going to have some misses on our way to success. We know that when we keep our focus on patients, and partner with clinicians to address the unmet needs of their patients, we will drive meaningful change together.

Setting aside the medical technology aspect of Edwards for a moment, when people think about the word “heart,” it’s a very symbolic word. Expressions like “heart’s content,” “heart and soul” and “young at heart” come to mind. What does this mean to you and to Edwards to specialize in healing the human heart?

Mike: Our work at Edwards is personal. We have the opportunity to touch the lives of individuals all over the world with the work that we do. This means that people like Lester have the chance to fulfill a lifelong goal.

It is an honor and a great responsibility to create, hand-assemble and provide heart valves to people all around the world to save and sustain lives. We spend every day looking for answers to how we can better treat patients with heart valve disease and address unmet patient needs. Our 13,000 global employees are focused on patients first, and we come to work every day knowing that helping patients is our life’s work, and life is now.

It was Edwards’ transcatheter aortic heart valve technology that enabled Lester to travel to Japan to receive a long-awaited apology. You once said, “[o]ur work is personal, and it impacts people individually.” To ask the opposite question, how do patients like Lester impact you in a personal way?

Mike: Lester is an amazing person and an inspiration to me personally, and to many at Edwards. I’ve had the honor to spend time with Lester and his wife, Betty, and it is a privilege to know them. This is a man who persevered in conditions that few people ever face, and even fewer could survive. Lester had incomparable mental and physical strength – yet decades later, he found his life threatened by a heart valve disease that could be solved by new technology, if he could get access to it.

It’s humbling to know that our transcatheter aortic heart valve was able to restore his health, and enable him to travel to Japan to receive an apology for WWII veterans for the tragedies they suffered during the war.

We have the privilege on a regular basis to meet many remarkable patients whose lives have been saved and improved as a result of their treatment with one of our therapies, and it is our single greatest motivation and inspiration at Edwards. I have photos of many of these individuals on my shelf in my office, and we have many more lining the halls of our offices at Edwards, to remind us all daily of the reason for the work we are doing.

“I feel my life was saved by entering the Heart Valve Trial of Edwards Lifesciences. I was very lucky to have found them when I did. Thank you Edwards for these seven extra years.” says Lester, a member of our greatest generation.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Veterans Day 2016

President Barack Obama welcomes Pvt Daniel Crowley 
and his bride Kelley 
to the White House for the Veterans Day breakfast
November 11, 2016

On October 7, 1940, Daniel Crowley, 18, traveled to Hartford, Connecticut to enlist with the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was hoping to “take long trip somewhere at the expense of our country.” The son of the once-famous women’s fashion icon, textile designer Timothy F. Crowley, he had experienced the depths of the Depression when his father’s business failed. In the 1930s, the senior Crowley turned his attention to painting and public speaking where he warned all who would listen of Japan’s unjust and brutal aggression against China.

Thus, Dan left for his “adventure” more aware than most 18 year olds that the world was rapidly moving toward war. At the United States Army Supply Base in Brooklyn, untrained and unarmed, he boarded on January 2, 1941 the USAT Leonard Wood that sailed through the Panama Canal to Angel Island off San Francisco. From there, he was transferred to the USAT U.S. Grant. This ship, via Hawaii and Guam, after engine failures, fires and a typhoon, arrived at Manila in the Philippines in March 1941.

Ptv Crowley was assigned to Nichols Field (today’s Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport) near Manila with the 24th Pursuit Group, V Interceptor Command, 17th Pursuit Squadron. For months, there was little do and the enlisted men at the Field remained untrained and their officers unconcerned. The 17th Pursuit Squadron had been sent overseas in October 1940 (arriving December 14, 1940) from Selfridge Field in Michigan without aircraft to fly. Until their planes arrived and were assembled in March 1941, they practiced in outdated Boeing P-26 Peashooters that then constituted the interceptor force at Nichols Field.

New planes arrived in March 1941. These were Seversky P-35s that had been held back from a sale to Sweden (18 June 1940, United States declared an embargo against exporting weapons to any nation other than the United Kingdom.). By late 1941 standards, the P-35s were obsolete. It was too lightly armed and lacked either armor around the cockpit or self-sealing fuel tanks. In addition, the instruments in these aircraft flown were marked in Swedish and calibrated in the metric system. New Curtiss P-40Es “Warhawks” did not arrive until September 1941.

The Japanese attacked Clark Field on December 8th, nine hours after Pearl Harbor. Next they struck Nichols Field along with other air bases on Luzon. Within three days, Japan controlled the air over the Philippines and completely eliminated the U.S. Far East Air Force as an effective defense of Asia.

Crowley participated in an improvised air defense of Nichols with antiquated British Lewis machine guns that were welded together to form more powerful, but still ineffective weapons. Despite their efforts, most of the aircraft and Nichols Field were destroyed. The ground crews were soon evacuated and sent to the Bataan Peninsular via boat and train. The base was abandoned on December 26th.

The surviving ground crews and airmen were made members of the Provisional Air Corps Infantry Regiment on Bataan. Although designated as Infantry, the U.S. Army refuses to this day to recognize these veterans as such and denies them their Combat Infantry badges. In every way, but name they fought like infantry soldiers. [Mr. Crowley still wants his Infantry Badge.]

On Bataan, Crowley’s unit was joined by the Philippine Scouts who were instrumental in helping them fend off three amphibious landings by the Japanese on the west coast of Bataan, known as the Battle of the Points. The Army Air Corps men on Bataan were armed with only machine guns from their aircraft or WWI Springfield M1903s (a five-round magazine fed, bolt-action service repeating rifle). Crowley had not fired this weapon until combat on Bataan.

After the Bataan Peninsula was surrendered April 9, 1942—the single largest military surrender in American history—his unit made its way down to the tip of Bataan and the town of Mariveles to surrender. Refusing to become prisoners, he and a number of men hide among rocks in the breakwater near the shore. At nightfall they made their way to Corregidor Island in Manila Bay by swimming and clinging to life boats with sailors from various ships bombed or scuttled in Manila Bay and Mariveles Harbor. 

Crowley remembers hiding in the breakwater with the crew of the USAT Yu Sang, an armaments ship carrying 1500 tons of bombs docked in Mariveles harbor. It was bombed and sank by the Japanese. They watched as the ensuring fire ignited the ordnance causing a tremendous explosion and tidal wave. He can still recall the sound of the flaming bits of the ship raining down on his doughboy “Brodie” helmet.

On Corregidor, Crowley became part of the 4th Marines Regimental Reserve (China Marines) commanded by Maj. Max Schaeffer. He fought with the Marines a dangerous and desperate shore defense until the island fell on May 6, 1942. His Company commander was the famous University of Tennessee football star Captain Austin Conner “Shifty” Shofner. The Philippines were surrendered on May 8th. 

Shofner would become famous later in the war for being one of the very few who escaped from a Japanese POW camp. On April 4, 1943, he and a small group of nine other Americans and two Filipinos escaped their labor camp in the Philippines. These men were able to make to a sympathetic Filipino village and were then rescued by an American sub that took them to Australia. Among the men was William Dyess who told his story to The Chicago Tribune on January 27, 1944, thus revealing to Americans for the first time about the horrors of the Bataan Death March. Shofner returned to combat in 1944 commanding units of the Marine Corps in the battles of Peleliu and Okinawa.

On May 25th, he and the nearly 12,000 other POWs who were interned in the 92nd Garage Area—an exposed beach with little water or food and no sanitation—on Corregidor were taken by boat to Manila and paraded through town on what became known as the “March of Shame.” By rail and foot, the POWs traveled on to Camp Cabanatuan. To escape its squalor and despair, Crowley joined 300 POWs in August to build an airstrip on Palawan Island for the Japanese Army. Starvation, beatings, and unworkable conditions prolonged the task.

He and approximately half of the men were returned to Manila in early 1944. Crowley says he feigned insanity to be relieved of the work. The remaining 150 prisoners on Palawan became victims of Tokyo’s directive to “kill all” POWs once the Americans began to take territory. On December 14, 1944, as American troops approached the Philippine Islands, the remaining POWs on Palawan were herded into an improvised air raid shelter, doused with gasoline, set afire, and machine-gunned to death. Nevertheless, a lucky 11 did escape to report on the Palawan Massacre.

Today, this airfield built by the POWs is the Philippine Air Force’s Antonio Bautista Air Base that shares its runway with the Puerto Princesa Airport. It is part of the enhanced security initiative between the Philippines and the United States to reinforce the Indo-Pacific.

At the time of the infamous massacre, Crowley was in Japan. He had been sent there on March 24, 1944 via Formosa aboard the “hell ship,” Taikoku Maru arriving April 3 like most other American and Allied POWs at the Port of Moji, on Kyushu. Three hundred men had been crowded into the ship's fetid hold that ordinarily would accommodate only 25 men. They were 11 days in the dark, lying in their own waste with little food or water. Of the 308 men loaded onto the ship, 17 died en route to Japan.

Crowley remembers that the Japanese had cameras focused on them as they, bedraggled and dazed, made their way down the ship's gangplank to the dock at Moji. We do not know what happened to the newsreels made from these films and photos. Today, there are memorials to Japanese soldiers, horses, and bananas at this historic port. No physical record exists, however, of the thousands of American and Allied POWs who first arrived to Japan at these docks.

He was first sent to the POW camp Tokyo #8B (Motoyama) administered by the Hitachi Company, one of the largest users of slave and forced labor in wartime Japan. There he was a slave laborer in its copper mine, Japan’s oldest and most dangerous. In August, he was transferred to Tochigi, Japan, near Tokyo, where he again mined copper ore. This time for Furukawa Kogyo (today’s Furukawa Company Group) at the Ashio POW Camp Tokyo 9-B until the end of the war. Working alongside Japanese miners were approximately 300 Allied and American POWs from the United States, Singapore, Hong Kong, Dutch East Indies, Norway, Australia, and China.

The mine was closed in 1973 and today is a national historic site and tourist attraction touting the mine’s contribution to Japan’s industrialization, but without mention of the American and Allied POWs who labored there. The Furukawa Group is one of Japan's 15 largest industrial groups and was largely untouched by US Occupation policies to dismantle Japan’s industrial conglomerates.

Furukawa dates its origins back to 1875. Before and during World War II, Furukawa specialized in mining, electronics, and chemicals. Now, the predominant companies are Fuji Electric and Furukawa Electric as well as Fujitsu, FANUC, Advantest, and Yokohama Rubber. One US subsidiary is directly related to its mining operation is Furukawa Rock Drill USA Co., Ltd., in Kent, Ohio. The Furukawa Group has yet to acknowledge or apologize for its use of American and Allied POW slave labor.

The Ashio mine is best known as one of Japan’s most polluted sites with a long history of environmental destruction, citizen protest, and company denial dating back to the late-19th Century when the mine was privatized. Water and air pollution have ravaged the streams and forests of the region, with deteriorating toxic slag pools still threatening villages. Although mining operations were halted in 1971, the smelting of ores continues through the use of imports.

Crowley was liberated on September 4, 1945, after weeks of air drops of food, medicine, and clothing onto the POW camp. He was quickly flown to Manila via Okinawa. After several days at Sternberg General Hospital, an Army troop ship brought him and other POWs to San Francisco by early October where he spent his days recuperating at Letterman General Hospital and nights at the local bars mostly in his pajamas. He returned home to Connecticut close to Christmas. After spending time between Fort Dix Hospital in New Jersey and Connecticut, he was discharged at Fort Devens in Massachusetts on April 4, 1946.

He found that former POWs were quickly stigmatized as being unstable and difficult employees. This meant finding full time employment a challenge and he became a traveling salesman dependent upon commission and his wits. In 1958, he began working for Northwestern Mutual Insurance where he soon became one of their top producers and most successful agents.

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." In October 2014, Mr. Crowley returned to Japan as part of the 5th US-Japan POW Friendship program. Unfortunately, Furukawa executives refused to meet with him. He did, however, revisit the mine where he toiled. Overall, he felt the trip was a positive experience with the satisfaction of finally getting something back from the Japanese who profited from his labor.

His most recent effort to recognize those with whom he served was advocating for the Connecticut 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.

Mr. Crowley was married 65 years to Marie Boles and they had two children. On April 24, 2014, he married Kelley Thomen who accompanied him to Washington for the President’s Veterans Day Breakfast on November 11, 1916.

Mr. Crowley is a life-time member of VFW, American Legion, and DAV, as well as the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society.

Find more about Mr. Crowley at the Library of Congress' Veterans History Project.

Philippines POW #: 1-12747
Palawan POW #: 101
Ashio POW #: 3870