Thursday, December 08, 2016

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.”

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