Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas


Ronald Searle (3 March 1920 – 30 December 2011) is perhaps the best known of the artists who were POWs of Japan. The British illustrator said that his POW experience on the Thai Burma Death Railroad "directed" the rest of his life. Many of his wartime drawings documenting the horror are in the Imperial War Museum. In 1986, he published Ronald Searle: To the Kwai and Back, War Drawings 1939–1945.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Why was Imperial Japan so cruel?

University of Washington, Seattle Professor Daniel Chirot explores in an October 27, 2020 lecture, the Ideologies of Racial Superiority and Purity: Why Did Germany and Japan Engage in Such Extreme Mass Murder During World War II?

Although there were differences between Germany’s effort to wipe out Jews (and others) and Japan’s massacres (death through work and human experimentation) there was a common ideological basis for these outrages. What lay behind Nazi ideology and Japan’s aggressive militarism, and why were they so vicious? A comparison helps put what happened in perspective and shows why we cannot exclude the possibility that something like this could happen again.

Among the common traits between Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan were a deep sense of racial and ideological superiority. The difference was that the Germans were ideologically genocidal whereas the Japanese were negligently so. The Germans wanted to eliminate certain peoples while the Japanese were simply indifferent to the welfare of their subjugated and enslaved.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Gold Star Families Remembrance Week

This week, September 20th – 26th, is Gold Star Families Remembrance Week, which honors the families of fallen service members and recognizes the sacrifices made by the family members of veterans who died in the line of duty.

The first tanker to die in WWII was a son of African American Kentucky sharecroppers. Pvt. Robert Brooks of the 192nd Tank Battalion was killed by a Japanese bomb on December 8, 1941 at Clark Field.

Cleveland Wright (b. 1931, d. 1992), U.S. Air Force,
“We Regret To Inform You,” 1979. Oil on Canvas.
Collection of the National Veterans Art Museum.
All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Ceremony and Presidential Proclamation for POW/MIA Day

Navy Rear Adm. Darius Banaji, deputy director of the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Agency, hosts a moving ceremony on POW/MIA Recognition Day at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Sept. 18, 2020.

President's Proclamation on National POW/MIA Recognition Day, 2020

  Issued on: September 18, 2020

Throughout our Nation’s history, America’s sons and daughters have heroically safeguarded our precious freedoms and defended the cause of liberty both at home and abroad.  On National POW/MIA Recognition Day, we remember the more than 500,000 prisoners of war who have endured incredible suffering and brutality under conditions of extraordinary privation, and the tens of thousands of our patriots who are still missing in action.  Although our Nation will never be able to fully repay our debt to those who have given so much on our behalf, we commemorate their bravery and recommit to working for their long-suffering families who deserve answers and solace for their missing loved ones.

Today, I join a grateful Nation in honoring those POWs who faithfully served through extreme hardship and unimaginable physical and emotional trauma.  Their lives and resilience reflect the best of the American Spirit, and their immeasurable sacrifices have ensured the blessings of freedom for future generations.  On this day, we also reaffirm our unceasing global efforts to obtain the fullest possible accounting of our MIA personnel.  The search, recovery, and repatriation of MIA remains help bring closure to families bearing the burden of the unresolved fate of their loved ones.  That is why in 2018, I worked to secure the historic repatriation of remains from North Korea, and why we are continually working to bring more home from around the world.  My Administration will never waver in fulfilling our country’s obligation to leave no service member behind.

This year, as we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II and reflect upon both the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War and the 45th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, we pause to recognize the men and women who were held as POWs or deemed MIA in these conflicts against repressive ideologies.  These service members and civilians, many from the Greatest Generation, deserve a special place of honor in the hearts of all Americans because of their selfless devotion, unflinching courage, and unsurpassed dedication to our cherished American values.

On September 18, 2020, our Nation’s citizens will look to the iconic black and white flag as a powerful reminder of the service of America’s POWs and service members who have gone MIA.  This flag, especially when flying high above our military installations abroad, conveys the powerful message of American devotion to the cause of human liberty and our commitment to never forget the brave Americans lost defending that liberty.  On this National POW/MIA Recognition Day, our Nation takes a special moment to pay tribute to those who endured the horrors of enemy captivity and those lost in service to our country.  Our Nation will continue to be resolute in our relentless pursuit of those remains of service members who have yet to return home from war and our steadfast promise to their families that their loved ones will never be forgotten.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 18, 2020, as National POW/MIA Recognition Day.  Together with the people of the United States, I salute all American POWs who, in the presence of great dangers and uncertainties, valiantly honored their duty to this great country.  Let this day also serve as a reminder for our Nation to strengthen our resolve to account for those who are still missing and provide their families long-sought answers.  I call upon Federal, State, and local government officials and private organizations to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventeenth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fifth.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Remembering the men of Maywood and all the POWs of Japan


of Illinois 
in the House of Representatives 
Wednesday, September 16, 2020 

Mr. DANNY K. DAVIS of Illinois. Madam Speaker, today I rise to tell my colleagues during this week that ends with National POW/MIA Recognition Day about my district's 78-year old Maywood Bataan Memorial Day tradition. This service honors the men from the village of Maywood, Illinois who became prisoners of war after fighting from December 7, 1941 to April 9, 1942 against invading Imperial Japanese forces in the Philippines. 

The men of Maywood were members of Company B of the federated Illinois National Guard 33rd Tank Company, 33rd Infantry Division based at the town's Armory.  On November 25, 1940, they became part of the 192nd Tank Battalion of the U.S. Army. In October 1941, 89 men from Company ``B'' left the United States for the Philippine Islands. They arrived in the Philippine Islands on November 20, 1941--Thanksgiving Day. On December 8, the war started and the Japanese attacked. 

These Illinois tankers fought valiantly on the Bataan Peninsula with little food, medicine, fuel, or ammunition. Relief from the United States never came. Malaria, scurvy, and dysentery reached epidemic proportions. On April 9, 1942, Bataan was surrendered. The following day, some 85,000 American and Filipino soldiers, as Japanese captives, all became victims of the greatest atrocity of the Pacific War: the Bataan Death March. A seemingly endless line of sick and starving men began their 85 mile trip up from the tip of Bataan to Camp O'Donnell in central Luzon. More than 12,000 died en route. 

Survivors of the March endured three and a half years of death camps, brutal labor, and untold abuse. Many were taken to Japan aboard hell ships to be slave laborers for Japanese companies. Of the more than 10,000 Americans taken prisoner on Bataan, between 6,000 and 7,000 died. Of the 89 men of Company ``B'' who left the U.S. in 1941, only 43 would return from the war. 

This is the first year that the Memorial, which was scheduled for September 13, has had to be postponed. I ask my fellow representatives to join me in commending the hard work and dedication of Maywood Bataan Day Organization President Col. Richard A. McMahon, Jr. and his Board of Directors. And on this Friday, September 18, National POW/MlA Recognition Day may we all pause to remember the men and women of Bataan who gave so much in the fight against tyranny.

For more information about the tankers on Bataan see The Bataan Project.



September 18, 2020, 11:00 am

Today is National POW/MIA Recognition Day. By law, 36 U.S. Code § 902, the POW/MIA Flag is to be displayed whenever the American flag is displayed on prominent Federal properties, such as the White House, to honor the more than 82,000 Americans who are listed as Prisoners of War (POW), Missing in Action (MIA), or otherwise unaccounted for from our nation's past wars and conflicts.

Display of the POW/MIA flag pursuant to this law must be "in a manner designed to ensure visibility to the public."

From August 1998 until June 2020, the POW/MIA flag has been displayed every day atop the White House. It is the only place on the White House grounds that is continually visible to the public. The flag was removed sometime in June 2020. White House spokesman Judd Deere told Reuters, “The president selected a site on the Southwest corner of the South Lawn for this prominent and sacred memorial, which is visible to all those who visit the White House, that features the POW/MIA flag.” This is not what the law implies. It must be visible to all.

On November 7, 2019, President Donald Trump signed into law a refinement to the 1998 law regarding the POW/MIA flag. This change required that the flag be continually flown on designated federal properties, such as the White House. S. 693, the “National POW/MIA Flag Act was introduced by Senator Elizabeth Warren and cosponsored by Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), John Thune (R-SD), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jack Reed (D-RI), Pat Toomey (R-PA). 

Prior to the signing of the Act, the POW/MIA flag was required only to be displayed by the Federal government on certain prominent federal properties only six days per year to include Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, National POW/MIA Recognition Day, and Veterans Day.


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Events of interest this week to the POW of Japan Community

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18TH is National POW/MIA Recognition Day
You can get this year's poster here free

There are still 47,177 missing from the War in the Pacific

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16TH is Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Dedication
The Memorial, commissioned by Congress in 1999, honors the legacy of the World War II Supreme Allied Commander and nation's 34th President.
Eisenhower served as MacArthur's assistant in Washington and his advisor in the Philippines in the 1930s.
See here for more details
C-Span interview with Susan Eisenhower about her new book about her grandfather, How Ike Led.

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 17 is The Bataan Death March and The Sack of Cement Cross Seminar
The National Prisoner of War Museum at the Andersonville National Historic Site in Georgia is hosting a virtual event about the historic cross at Camp O'Donnell. The cross is exhibited at the Museum. 
Gia Wagner, Superintendent, National Prisoner of War Museum
Randy Olson (Moderator), Filmmaker, son of Col. John Olson
Chris Schaefer, Filmmaker/Historian
Fred Baldassarre, Historian
Dan Crowley, 98 yr old veteran of Bataan, former P.O.W.
John Eakin, Specialist, Identification of MIA/KIA remains

The Admiral Nimitz Foundation and National Museum of the Pacific War in Texas holds its 33rd Annual Symposium virtually. This year – the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII – the focus is on the strategies, events and impacts of the end of WWII in the Pacific. See and hear five experts in their fields speak and take your questions, a lively roundtable discussion with all five speakers, and stimulating breakouts that connect the dots between WWII and today's concerns.
Book discounts and an auction.
Marc Gallicchio - Unconditional Surrender: An Introduction to the End of WWII
Richard B. Frank – Downfall: The Stark Realities of the Atomic Bomb
Craig Symonds - The Legacy of Admiral Nimitz in Today’s Japan
Noriko Kawamura - A Conflicted Man: Emperor Hirohito and the End of the War with the United States
James Hornfischer - Revelation and Reckoning: Total War in the Pacific 1944-1945
Plus 3 concurrent breakouts:
Race in the Military Then and Now, led by Lt. General Vincent Stewart, USMC (Ret.)
The Pandemic—In Search of an Answer, led by Rob Havers, Ph.D.
The Evolving Roles of Women in the Military led by Major General Angela Salinas (Ret.)

Monday, September 14, 2020


On Thursday, September 17 from 7:00-8:30pm (EDT), a day before the upcoming annual National POW/MIA Recognition Day. The National Prisoner of War Museum at Andersonville National Historic Site in Georgia is hosting a virtual event about 

The Bataan Death March 
The Sack of Cement Cross 

This cross was made by POWs in memory of the 1,547 who died at Camp O’Donnell. The cross is exhibited at the National POW Museum. 


Gia Wagner, Superintendent, National Prisoner of War Museum
Randy Olson (Moderator), Filmmaker, son of Col. John Olson
Chris Schaefer, Filmmaker/Historian
Fred Baldassarre, Historian
Dan Crowley, 98 yr old veteran of Bataan, former POW
John Eakin, Specialist, Identification of MIA/KIA remains

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Fighting for his dignity

Dan Crowley, 98, from Connecticut, is a former POW of Japan who survived the December 8-10, 1941 bombing of Nichols Field near Manila as a member of the US Army Air Corps, the Battle of the Points on Bataan as part of the US Army Infantry, swimming to Corregidor to avoid the Bataan Death March, fighting with the 4th Marines on Corregidor, and then as a POW enduring the Cabanatuan POW Camp, constructing the air field on Palawan Island, a hell ship to Japan, and slave labor in the Ashio Copper Mine owned (and still owned) by the mega company Furukawa. He is mad as hell with what the President said about him and his fellow POWs. He talked to VoteVets about how he felt.

Saturday, September 05, 2020

Trump has never attended a Veterans Day at Arlington

 Vice President Pence at Arlington November 11, 2019

Nor has he, as past presidents have, hosted a Veterans Day breakfast for all the Veterans Service Organizations and prominent veterans. Former American POWs of Japan attended these during the Obama years.

There have been three Veterans Day ceremonies at Arlington Cemetery thus far under the Trump Administration. President Donald Trump has not attended once. Twice he planned to be out of town and once he did know it was important and he was tired from returning from a trip to France where he noted he had already been to a military cemetery.

This 2019 article from the Military Times describes what Trump as done instead.

Here’s Where President Donald Trump Will Spend Veterans Day

9 Nov 2019 | By Richard Sisk

President Donald Trump will not be attending the traditional wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day. Instead he’ll speak at the start of the Veterans Day parade in New York City, billed as the nation’s largest.

On Wednesday, the United Veterans War Council, which organizes the annual Manhattan parade, announced that Trump would be at the kickoff of the event with other honorees in Madison Square Park, off Fifth Avenue.

The White House later confirmed that Trump would be going to the parade. The New York City tradition began 100 years ago, with a huge ticker-tape parade for returning troops from World War I. Many of the marchers this year will be dressed as doughboys.

Trump is not expected to march in the parade, but Gen. David Berger, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, will lead a contingent of Marines along the 5th Avenue route.

In a statement, Douglas McGowan, chairman of the nonprofit United Veterans War Council, said Trump would be the first president to attend the city’s Veterans Day parade.

“On behalf of all the men and women who have served our nation, and who continue to serve, the United War Veterans Council is honored that our Commander-in- Chief, President Donald J. Trump, has agreed to join our 100th annual tribute,” McGowan said. “This is a day when we put politics aside to focus on honoring our veterans.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has often traded insults with Trump, appeared willing to call a truce for Veterans Day.

He told City Hall reporters that the day “should not be politicized. It should not be a spectacle. If he’s really coming here to truly honor veterans, God bless him.”

Last week, Trump drew a chorus of boos, mixed with some cheers, when he showed up at an Ultimate Championship Fighting event in Madison Square Garden.

In the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton won 79% of the vote in New York City overall, compared to 19% for Trump. However, Trump won on Staten Island, 57%-40%.

Trump, who grew up in Queens and made his reputation in the city’s fiercely competitive real estate business, will be coming back to the city after recently declaring that New York was no longer his hometown. He changed his permanent residence to his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.

In a tweet, Trump said he still loved the city, “but unfortunately, despite the fact that I pay millions of dollars in city, state and local taxes each year, I have been treated very badly by the political leaders of both the city and state. Few have been treated worse.”

Trump also currently is fighting a subpoena from the Manhattan District Attorney for his personal and business tax records.

Presidents have typically attended ceremonies and the traditional wreath-laying at Arlington on Veterans Day, though there are some exceptions. President Barack Obama was at Arlington for six of the eight years he was in office. He was traveling overseas the other two times.

In 2008, President George W. Bush marked Veterans Day at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in Manhattan.

In 2017, Trump’s first year in office, he was in Vietnam on Veterans Day and attended a commemorative event there with Vietnam veterans. Vice President Mike Pence represented the administration at Arlington in 2017.

In 2018, Trump arrived back at the White House the night before Veterans Day after attending World War I armistice 100th anniversary ceremonies in France. He stayed at the White House on Veterans Day and Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie represented the administration at Arlington.

In a later interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Trump said he probably should have gone to Arlington for Veterans Day in 2018, but appeared to be mistaken on where he was on Veterans Day in 2017.

“In retrospect, I should have done, and I did last year and I will virtually every year,” Trump said. “But we had come in very late at night and I had just left, literally, the American cemetery in Paris and I really probably assumed that was fine.”

“I was extremely busy because of affairs of state, doing other things,” Trump said, “but I would have done it.”

Monday, August 31, 2020

Remembering August 29, 1945

August 29, 2020 was the 75th Anniversary of the liberation and evacuation of the first POW camp on Japan's Home Islands. OMORI TOKYO MAIN CAMP

Commander Harold Stassen on Adm William Halsey's staff was in charge of the location and liberation of the POWs in Japan. Two years prior, Stassen had been governor of Minnesota. He resigned months into his third term and took up active duty in the Pacific with the Navy on April 27, 1943. 

For four months, 25 April 1945 to 26 June 1945, Stassen was sent to help negotiate the UN Charter at the San Francisco Conference that took place in San Francisco, California. Returning to Halsey's staff in the Pacific sometime in July 1945, he was assigned the upcoming search and care for the POWs in Japan. This was a top priority mission for the Allies. There was a high level of concern that the Japanese would murder the POWs before they could be rescued.

To the relief of all--excepting a few isolated beheadings on the day and days after the surrender--the POWs were not killed. Stassen's first task was to locate the POW camps. The Allies knew of 30 camps in Japan. After surrender, the Japanese government provided a list (called the "Yellow List") identifying 73 camp locations. This proved to be less than half the actual number of camps. Navy reconnaissance and POW interviews tracked down the others. They found 158 POW camp sites across the Home Islands.

Next was to coordinate POW relief supply air drops to the sick and starving men and women.  Starting on August 27th, Army Air Force planes dropped 4,470 tons of food, medicine, clothing, and cigarettes on the POW camps in Japan. See the "Report on POW Supply Missions" for more details. By the end of September 1945, nearly all of the 32,000 Allied POW's in Japan had been processed and on their way back home. 

On August 29th, Stassen positioned hospital and transport ships in Tokyo Bay and then at mid-afternoon directed a flotilla of Navy launches to a POW-made island close to shore and the Omori POW Camp. The first three boats held battle-hardened Marines who immediately secured the perimeter and established a communications command. Next, with famed Navy and Hollywood photographer John Swope at his side, Stassen arrived to command the rescue operation. 

Swope's iconic picture of ecstatic POWs waving their handmade national flags will forever represent liberation.In addition to American POWs, there were POWs from the UK, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Estonia, Italy, Norway, and New Zealand. The camp held famed aviators Louis Zamperini and Pappy Boyinton, the commanders of the USS Grenadier and USS Tang, as well as many downed aviators who were tortured nearby at the Emperor's horse stables.

Once on the island, Stassen was met by the camp's commander who told him he could not take the POWs as no authority from Tokyo told him to release the prisoners. The over six foot tall, Stassen glared down at the Emperor's representative and reportedly then grabbed the Japanese colonel by the front of his tunic and lifted him off the ground, and said, "I have no need for orders from Tokyo to do what I want to with these American prisoners." And so, that ended that.

Within hours the POWs were evacuated to the USS Benevolence where they were tiraged into those who needed immediate medical attention and those who were ambulatory. In the matter of a few hours, these walking skeletons were registered, checked, cleaned, deloused, shaved, clothed, and fed whatever they wanted and allowed to eat as much as they wanted under the watchful eyes of medics. Toward midnight, the healthier men were transported to the USS Reeves to bunk down until it was determined where to send them for their journey home.

Marine and Navy rescuers also quickly made their way to the nearby Shinagawa “hospital.” What they found was “an indescribable hellhole of filth, disease, and death.” One doctor, 1/Lt. Hisakichi Tokuda, at this "hospital" was infamous for his fascination with human experimentation and general medical incompetence. At the War Crimes Trial he was prosecuted for injecting soybean milk into one Dutch, one British, one Italian, and two American POWs resulting in their death. He was sentenced to life to death at the Yokohama War Crimes Trials in February 1948. On September 3, 1951, General Matthew Ridgeway, who was serving as head of UN Forces in Korea and Military Governor of Japan, commuted Tokuda's sentence to life. It is likely he was released in 1958.

Today, the Heiwajima Motor Boat Racing venue is located at the site of this former POW camp. This monopoly gambling franchise was created by unindicted Class-A war criminal and black marketeer Ryohei Sasakawa. It now is managed by the Nippon Foundation which is part of the Sasakawa family of foundations and enterprises. The Sasakawa family and organization is the major funder of Japan programs around the world, especially exchange and think tank programs in Washington. The organization is a major funder of off-budget projects of the Japanese government.

There is a small memorial at the venue--Heiwajima Kannon--featuring a statue of Kannon (the goddess of mercy) and a signboard in Japanese with some euphemistic references to the brutal history of this spot. Among the information not provided by the signboard are: 1) how many POWs perished here, 2) how many POWs built the original island, and 3) that wartime Prime Minister Hideki Tojo was briefly held here when he was first arrested as a war criminal.

On August 30th, General Douglas MacArthur set foot in Japan at Atsugi Airfield aboard Bataan II. 

The next day, down the road in Totsuka, the Army found American Etta Jones and 18 Australian nurses. Etta was the first Caucasian female taken prisoner by a foreign enemy on the North American continent since the War of 1812. She was captured in June 1942 when Japanese troops invaded Attu Island in the Aleutians. The Japanese forced her to witness her husband beheaded. She and the 42 Aleuts living on Attu were taken as POWs to Japan. Nearly half of them died as POWs in Otaru, Hokkaido — many from tuberculosis, malnutrition and starvation.

For more on the liberation see HERE

Sunday, August 30, 2020


THE MIRACULOUS DELIVERANCE FROM AN EPIC TRAGEDY: THE END OF THE ASIA PACIFIC WAR WITH RICHARD B. FRANK. 8/31, 2:00pm (EDT), ZOOM EVENT. Sponsors: Friends of the National World War II Memorial. Speaker: Richard B. Frank, internationally recognized leading authority on the Asia-Pacific War, author.  PURCHASE BOOKS:;

'UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER' THE 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF V-J DAY WITH RICHARD B. FRANK, author of Tower of Skulls and Downfall. 9/1, 6:00pm (CDT), ZOOM EVENT. Sponsor: The Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum.

THE ALLIED FORCES IN WORLD WAR II: HISTORY, CONSEQUENCES AND THE 21ST CENTURY WORLD ORDER. 9/2, 5:30-7:00pm (IST), WEBINAR. Sponsor: Observer Research Foundation (ORF), India. Speakers: Ajay Kumar Patnaik, Professor, Centre for Russian & Central Asian Studies, JNU; Sanjay Deshpande, Professor, Centre for Eurasian Studies, University of Mumbai; Sergei Fandeev, Director, Russian Centre for Science and Culture, Mumbai; Sriparna Pathak, Assistant Professor & Assistant Dean, School of International Affairs, OP Jindal Global University; Suresh Babu, former Ambassador of India to Armenia, Georgia & Mongolia.

TWILIGHT OF THE GODS: WAR IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC, 1944-1945. 9/2, 7:00pm (EDT), ZOOM EVENT. Sponsors: MacArthur Memorial and the Hampton Roads Naval Museum. Speaker: Ian Toll, author and historian. PURCHASE BOOK: (W. W. Norton & Company; Illustrated Edition (September 1, 2020), 944 pages)

PRISONERS OF THE EMPIRE: INSIDE JAPANESE POW CAMPS. 9/3, 8:00-9:00am (CDT). Radio Interview. Sponsor: The Morning Show KENOSHA-WGTD (91.1 FM). Speaker: author, Dr. Sarah Kovner, Columbia University. PURCHASE BOOK: (Harvard University Press (September 15, 2020), 336 pages)

Saturday, August 01, 2020

Remembering a POW legend, Ed Jackfert

Ed Jackert with Senator Barbara Boxer
With sadness, I report that on July 24th, Sgt Edward Jackfert, 98, of Wellsburg, West Virginia and Tampa, Florida passed away. 


His funeral was Saturday, August 1, 2020. The West Virginia (WV) Patriot Guard Riders escorted the WWII hero from the Chambers Funeral Home to a public graveside service at Franklin Cemetery, Wellsburg, WV, held with Military Honors by the WV Army National Guard. Ed was with the U.S. Army Air Corps in the Philippines where he was surrendered to become a POW of Japan for more than three years. He was liberated in Japan 75 years ago this August. You can leave a note, send flowers or plant a tree HERE.


Ed graduated in 1939 from Wellsburg High School and enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps on September 11, 1940. He was sent to aircraft engineers’ school, and then to the Philippine Islands, arriving in June 1941. He was assigned to the 28th Bomb Squadron which later became a part of the 19th Bombardment Group.  The unit was based at Clark Field as the bomber command of the Far East Air Force.


Ed was a mechanic at Clark Field when Imperial Japanese Navy planes attacked on December 8, 1941. The airfield was destroyed in less than an hour. Clark Field as a tactical base was virtually destroyed. The casualties were very high, about 100 wounded and 55 dead. Survivors were evacuated on December 24th to the Bataan Peninsula and Mindanao island.


Ed fought as part of a provisional infantry formed on Mindanao. First, he was assigned to guard Carmen Ferry near Davao and the newly constructed Del Monte Air Field. In mid-April 1942, he was sent to the new Maramag Field in central Mindanao to help put up a last-ditch offense, known as the Royce Mission. Mindanao was surrendered to the Japanese on May 10th. (Mother’s Day 1942. The POWs captured on Mindanao were consolidated at Camp Casisang, about five kilometers southwest of Malaybalay, Mindanao. They were miles away from Bataan and the infamous Bataan Death March.


On October 3, 1942, he and 268 POWs at Camp Casisang were transported by the hellship Tamohoko Maru from Bugu, Mindanao to Manila.  They were loaded aboard the hellship Tottori Maru for a month-long trip via Formosa (Taiwan) and Chosen (Korea) to Japan arriving November 11, 1942.


In October 1942, he was transported to Japan aboard the hellship Tottori Mari arriving November 11, 1942. He was primarily a slave laborer at Tokyo-2B-Kawasaki POW Camp (Mitsui Wharf Co., Ltd. known as “Mitsui Madhouse” for its brutal and chaotic conditions as well the language problems created by the many nationalities at the camp). There he was used as stevedore and day laborer for the Mitsui Senpaku KK [today’s Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd], Mitsubishi’s NYK Line (name unchanged today), Nisshin Flour (today’s Nisshin Seifu Group), Kawasaki Railroad Electric Power Plant, KYK Brick Factory (Kojima or Kawasaki Yogyo Co., Ltd., today’s Shinagawa Refactory), and Nippon Steel (name unchanged today). He was also traded around the Kawasaki, Kanagawa area spending time as a slave laborer for Nisshin Flour Milling (Tokyo 24-D)Showa Denko Chemical (Tokyo-16-B- Niigata [Kanosetoday’s Showa Denko K.K.where he mixed chemicals for ammunitionand Japan Steel Pipe [Japan Kokantoday’s JFE Holdings] (Tokyo 5D Kawasaki). Starting in January 1945, the camps came under constant air attack from American bombing raids. On July 25, 1945, Tokyo-2B was destroyed and 22 POWs were killed.


The camp was liberated on August 30, 1945. Among the 139 POWs in the camp, there were 59 Americans, 25 British, 6 Australians, 44 Italians and 5 Norwegians. He was evacuated to the hospital ship USS Benevolence (AH-13) for processing and then eventually on to a plane to Manila. There, on September 18, they boarded a troop transport and arrived in Los Angeles [possibly] on October 3.


Ed returned home to West Virginia to heal and reconstitute his life. He went to Bethany College and received a degree in economics. From there he joined the Internal Revenue Service as a Criminal Investigator and worked primarily in the field of organized crime and corruption of public officials. He retired from the government in February 1977.


Ed was a valiant and tireless advocate for the American POWs of Japan. He was one of five POWs who testified in person on June 28, 2000 to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on how the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty with Japan abrogated the right of former POWs of Japan to sue Japanese companies for compensation for their forced labor or on how the POWs were mistreated by their Japanese capturers in violation of the Geneva Convention.


In September 2010, he participated in the first delegation of American POWs on a “friendship” trip to Japan. There he met with Japan’s Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada who offered an official apology to the POWs of Japan. This apology appeared as a Cabinet Decision in February 2009 making it one of only four official Japanese government apologies.


He was twice elected National Commander of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor (ADBC, today the ADBC Memorial Society), in 1984 and 1999. His passion has been to ensure the legacy of the POWs by creating the ADBC Museum, Education & Research Center in Wellsburg, WV to preserve the history of the defense of the Philippines and to teach the lessons of war. 

The Museum received in 2015 the only atonement payment from a Japanese company, Mitsubishi Materials Corporation, for the company’s wartime abuse of POW slave laborers in its mines. You have to dig deep into the company's 2016 social responsibility report on page 70 to find mention of the apology on the Mitsubishi Materials website. There is one sentence. It mentions an "apology made to former US prisoners who were forced to work." In other words, the apology is not "offered" as reconciliation experts suggest; non-US POWs are not included (British, Australian, South African, Irish); and the rightwing euphemism "forced to work" is used. 

Ed wrote a memoir of his time as a POW called, Service to my Country



Requiescat in pace

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Things Japanese in DC

Japan in DC
Click to purchase book

JAPAN IN DC is a 128-page full color, high-quality paperback, based on the writing, photography, and creative expressions of Washington, DC students who spent their summer 2017 investigating the presence of Japan in their own hometown. The adventure was coordinated by Globilize DC. It is a quirky, curious albeit heart-felt addition to Washington's travel literature. The students encounter not just the obvious, but discover Japan's complex involvement in the nation's capital.

They visit memorials, museums, theaters, gardens, nonprofits, exchange programs, Japanese markets, Japanese restaurants, veterans groups, foundations, think tanks, companies, and the Embassy of Japan. There are a surprising number of WW II-focused sites visited and described.

One stop they make is to the Navy Yard where in 1860 the first Japanese delegation to the U.S. arrived to visit Washington. At the Yard's National Museum of the U.S. Navy the students marvel at the WWII guns. Yet, missed was the 14 foot model of the USS Houston (CA-30). The sinking of this heavy cruiser in the Sunda Strait off Java on March 1, 1942 marked the end of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet. Only 368 of the total complement of 1011 men of the Houston managed survive the sinking and machine gun attacks.The survivors became POWs of Japan and most were sent to the Thai-Burma Death Railway as slave laborers. Of this group, 79 died of maltreatment and starvation.

USS Houston (CA-30)

JAPAN IN DC is destined to be a significant artifact of Abe Administration public diplomacy. Tourists and historians are encouraged to purchase a copy. A bargain at only $16, your purchase is also a good deed. All proceeds from the sale of the book support Globalize DC's Japanese language and culture programs. which are offered at no cost to DC public high school students.

Thursday, April 09, 2020

April 9 1942 - Never Forget

Today, is the 78th Anniversary of the fall of the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines. Within hours of Japan's December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, Japan's planes descended upon the Philippines knocking out the critical airfields and naval facilities. By mid-December, American soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and whoever signed up, retreated to the Bataan Peninsula or to the fortress island of Corregidor in Manila Bay.

While Singapore, Hong Kong, and Batavia were occupied, the Asiatic Fleet was destroyed, and the Far East Air Force was annihilated, the Am-Fil forces on the Philippines fought on against the Japanese invaders. In February 1942, Japanese subs and aircraft bombed Darwin, Australia and Santa Barbara, California. By March, Am-Fil forces found their supplies and ammunition nearly gone. But they fought on.

After 99 days in battle, with no hope of reinforcement, out of food, medicine, and ammo, Major General Edward P. King Jr. surrendered his troops on Bataan—against General Douglas MacArthur’s orders and on the anniversary of the Gen Robert E Lee's surrender at Appomattox (1865). Thus, approximately 78,000 troops (66,000 Filipinos and 12,000 Americans), the largest contingent of U.S. soldiers ever to surrender, are taken captive by the Japanese.

The men and women on Corregidor and the other fortress island in Manila Bay fought on for another month. Those soldiers and sailors in the outlying provinces hung on a bit longer. By mid-May, all of the Philippines had been surrendered. Although, none of these men in arms were on the Death March, they suffered and died the same in the POW camps on the Philippines and in the hellships to Japan.

The prisoners surrendered on Bataan on April 9th were at once led 65 miles from Mariveles, on the southern end of the Bataan peninsula, up to San Fernando and then another 20 by miles by packed standing in steaming train cars and by foot to Camp O'Donnell on what became known as the “Bataan Death March.” Estimates vary, with 300-600 Americans and 2,000-5,000 Filipinos dying on the infamous March because of the extreme brutality of their captors, who starved, beat, and kicked them along the way; those who became too weak to walk were bayoneted, beheaded, or shot. 

At Camp O'Donnell, the survivors had little water, food or medicine. There the death rate far exceeded the toll from the March. By June, nearly a third of the POWs had died.

After the war, the International Military Tribunal, established by MacArthur, tried Lieutenant General Homma Masaharu, commander of the Japanese invasion forces in the Philippines. He was held responsible for the death march, a war crime, and was executed by firing squad on April 3, 1946.

Efforts were made after the war, to retrieve as many bodies as possible left along this infamous trail. The ghosts of many remain.


Sunday, March 08, 2020

POWs of Japan testify to Congress

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Every year, for at the last 10 years the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society has submitted testimony for the record at one of the annual joint House and Senate Veterans Committees hearings for Veterans Service Organization.

On Tuesday, March 3, ADBC-MS testimony was part of the Legislative Presentation of Multiple Veterans Service Organizations (AXPOW, PVA, SVA, GSW, MOAA, FRA, IAVA)..

Jan Thompson, President of the ADBC-MS called on Congress to do the following in this 75th Anniversary of Liberation:
  1. Award, collectively the American POWs of Japan the Congressional Gold Medal.
  2. Instruct the U.S. Department of State to prepare a report for Congress on the history and funding of the “Japan/POW Friendship Program” began in 2010 and how it compares with programs for Allied POWs and Takahashi groups.
  3. Encourage the Government of Japan to continue the “Japan/POW Friendship Program.”
  4. Encourage the Government of Japan to expand its “Japan/POW Friendship Program” into a permanent educational initiative.
  5. Request the Government of Japan to include the history of POW slave labor in the information provided about the sites of Japan’s “Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining” on the UNESCO World Industrial Heritage list.
  6. Work with the Government of Japan to create a memorial at the Port of Moji on Kyushu where most of the POW hellships docked and unloaded their sick and dying human cargo.
Included in the testimony is a Timeline of events during 1945, the 75th Anniversary of the end of WWII.