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Friday, September 17, 2021
Saturday, September 11, 2021
‘Emotional moment’ to get watch for longtime WT supporters
September 1, 2021
Photo: Bitsy Downing, longtime business manager and director of finance at WT, and son Stu hold the watch this summer of late husband and father Scott Downing, who had it taken from him by the Japanese after he was captured in 1945.
The small package arrived on June 1, taking three months and 6,154 miles by way of ship and through customs from outside of Tokyo to the mailbox on Fulton Drive in Amarillo.
Stu Downing and his mother Bitsy knew what was inside. That only made carefully opening the package that much more poignant.
“It was an emotional moment for me,” Bitsy said, “because I kept thinking about Scott’s emotions at the time of his capture when he was tied to a tree near a village. I just imagined his emotions when he had to give up his possessions – his belt, his ring, and of course, his watch.”
First Lt. Scott Downing of Canyon was a bombardier among a crew of 11 on a B-29 on what was his 20th – and as it turned out, final – combat mission on May 25, 1945. Only 2 ½ months remained of World War II, but they had no way of knowing that. They, like most, suspected a long protracted war with Japan.
They left the Tinian Islands on a six-hour flight to the heart of Tokyo. The objective was to bomb an industrial complex four miles southeast of the Imperial Palace. Dangerous? Was there a combat mission that wasn’t?
A Japanese Zero attacked the B-29 near Tokyo. The right engine caught fire. The crew bailed out 9,500 feet over Japan. Three could not get out of the plane and died. Downing was able to parachute down in a rice field 15 miles southeast of Tokyo.
His ordeal was just beginning. With 15 minutes, villagers ran toward him, carrying hoes, pitchforks, any crude implement they could get their hands on. Downing was tied to a tree until two Japanese soldiers arrived, one with a bayonet on the end of a rifle.
In his book A Ball of Rice and a Cup of Water, Downing said he was prepared to die, and die like a proud American. Instead, he was stripped of all personal possessions, blindfolded and marched to building with a dirt floor.
This was the beginning of three months as a prisoner of war. Nineteen soldiers were initially crammed into an 8-by-12-foot horse stall. There were beatings if Japanese soldiers saw POWs talking to each other and beatings anyway. Downing was beaten by a bamboo pole when an interrogation didn’t go the way the Japanese wanted. POWs were threatened with decapitation or a bullet in the temple.
Most POWs thought they would die at the hands of guards in retaliation of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug. 6 and Aug. 9, 1945. On Aug. 15, Emperor Hirohito announced the unthinkable – the surrender of Japan to the Allied forces.
Two weeks later, on Aug 29 and four days before the Sept. 2, 1945, formal surrender aboard the USS Missouri, Downing was among those at the Omori prison camp who were released to the Americans. His roommate on a transport ship was James “Pappy” Boyington, decorated Marine pilot and Medal of Honor recipient. [Today, the Omori camp location, an artificial island built by American POWs, is Heiwajima, a motorboat racing revenue owned by the Sasakawa organization that supports Japanese government public diplomacy.]
Men returned home to restart their lives. For Downing, he found himself back in Canyon. He became a longtime building contractor. Scott and Bitsy were married on the West Texas A&M University campus at the Joseph A. Hill Chapel on Sept. 1, 1951.
WT became a key part of their lives. Bitsy was assistant business manager and director of finance at WT from 1957 to 1982. Scott helped build the presidential home of James Cornette. He and his brother Jack also helped build the original Pioneer Village at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum.
Scott was the youngest of 10 children, and Bitsy was the youngest of nine, but Stu was their only child. He graduated from WT in 1978. There was no a bigger fan of WT athletics than the former bombardier. He had season tickets to football and men’s and women’s basketball games for so long that no one could remember when he didn’t. A WT flag flew in the front yard of their Amarillo home where they moved in 2004.
That was passed down to Stu. Even today, if anyone wants to find Stu, just go to a WT athletic event and holler out his name. He’s usually there.
Finding the watch, or the watch finds them
His dad didn’t dwell on his combat missions and never, to anyone’s knowledge, suffered from PTSD. But it was always a part of him. Like novelist William Faulkner said, “The past is not dead. It’s not even past.”
Scott made four trips to Japan. The first was in 1947 to testify at a Japanese war crimes trial. He and Bitsy went on sightseeing tours there in 1986 and 1994. Then in 2015, just two years before his death at age 98, Scott and Stu were among an American POW contingent on a reconciliation tour sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the U.S. State Department [and the American Defenders of Bataan Memorial Society].
At one event was a PowerPoint presentation by a man named Nakazato. It was all in Japanese so neither Downing knew the man was saying his grandparents were among those who tied a parachuting American to a tree. He had a watch that was the man’s which had been handed down by his grandparents.
But Dr. Isao Arai, a researcher with the group who is fluent in English, relayed what Nakazato said. Wait a minute, a watch? Could it be Scott’s watch? What were the odds?
Then they did some digging. Only officers were issued military standard Bulova watches. There were four officers on that downed B-29. Two were captured nowhere near the site. A third didn’t land too far from Downing, but he avoided detection for six days and was captured along the coast.
Eventually the Downings were convinced the watch was Scott’s. They put that on the backburner as they returned home, but it would be nice to one day get that watch back if possible.
Nancy Samp, the historian of the 505th Bomb Group, agreed. She was instrumental in persuading Arai to take steps to return the watch. It didn’t take much persuasion. Arai was 12 when he witnessed the B-29 crash. He has spent much of his life researching B-29 crashes in Japan and bringing closure to families. The grandson also knew the watch belonged to someone else.
“Scott always told me and everyone he knew that the Japanese people were kind and considerate,” Bitsy said. “He only had fault with the military. They ruled the country at the time, and they were brutal. The citizens were not. The grandson needs to be commended for releasing it.”
The Downings were sent a photo last year of the watch. It was inscribed as a Type A-11 with a serial number of AF4380602. A Google search pronounced it from the 1940s.
Arai and Stu exchanged a series of emails to finalize the return. In one of his last emails, Arai wrote: “It is not just an old watch. I think of it as the spirit of a soldier returning home after 75 years.”
The watch was put on a boat in Japan on March 9, six years after its rediscovery and four years after Scott’s death. It finally returned home on June 1. But after 75 years-plus, what was another three months? Wife and son held the watch like a newborn. They were the first Downings to touch the band since May 25, 1945. The face read 12:07.
“The little second hand still runs,” Bitsy said. “We wound it up very carefully when we got it, and the second hand started running. It was like it was telling us, ‘I’m happy to be home. It’s good to be back in the United States.’”
The last Sunday in August was the 76th anniversary of Downing’s release. Sept. 2 marks the 76th anniversary of the formal end of World War II and the surrender of Japan.
The watch will not stay in the Downing home much longer. Sometime this fall, they will take it to the B-29 museum in Pratt, Kan., a restored World War II parachute building at Pratt Air Field. There it will remain among other artifacts from the war.
“We got it home and we got to touch it again,” Bitsy said. “That’s what’s important. I think Scott would want it up there.”
Thursday, September 02, 2021
Sunday, July 25, 2021
By Mindy L. Kotler
Originally published in The Diplomat, July 23, 2021
This version is slightly revised for clarity
On July 22nd, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad, comprising the United States, India, Japan, and Australia, faced its first test. Unexpectedly, it came at the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. The focus was on Japan, not China, and the result reveals how fragile the idea of shared, universal values is for this multilateral coalition. As things stand, Japan is a willful outlier.
At the World Heritage Committee’s 44th virtual session, there was a review of several previously designated Japanese World Industrial Heritage sites that were the scene of war crimes in World War II. Americans, Australians, and Indians were among the thousands of Allied prisoners of war (POWs) brought to Japan during the war. They became slave laborers in various private mines, chemical factories, and steel mills, and on docks critical to support Imperial Japan’s war effort.
These very mines, foundries, and wharves were selected by Japan to represent its “Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining.” The Japanese, however, left out any mention of this forced labor and abuse, which was the substance of the hundreds of war crimes trials throughout the postwar Pacific.
UNESCO approved the designations in 2015 but conditioned the designations on a promise to provide a “full history” of these sites. Yet, six years later, Japan has not fulfilled this promise. Japan’s forced colonial workers from Korea are given slight mention, although Japan refuses to admit they were unwilling or unhappy. The POWs, which included soldiers, civilians, and mariners from Ireland, Egypt, Norway, Argentina, Jamaica, Portugal, Italy, and Arabia are unmentioned in any official publications, whether at the particular sites or at the Tokyo Industrial Heritage Information Center, which was opened in March 2020.
On July 12, 2021, a UNESCO draft decision noted that Japan still had to improve its interpretive strategy. The reprimand of Japan’s unwillingness to tell the “full history” of these properties was approved July 22. The Committee believes measures are still necessary to “allow an understanding of a large number of Koreans and others” who were forced or slave laborers.
To satisfy UNESCO’s directive to include “others,” it is implied that Japan must acknowledge that five of the UNESCO industrial heritage sites — Hagi, Kamaishi, Miike, Nagasaki, and Yawata — held 26 POW camps during the war and provided more than 13,000 POW slave laborers from over 16 countries to Japan’s industrial giants, including Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Sumitomo, and Nippon Steel.
The Miike Coal Mine (Fukuoka #17) warrants particular attention. The mine, owned by the Mitsui conglomerate, was Japan’s largest. Nearly 2,000 Allied POWs suffered capricious brutality and starvation in deadly and primitive conditions. Hundreds died. American POWs were so desperate for a respite from the coal pits that they traded their meager rice bowls for someone to break their arms or legs.
Kamaishi’s industrial area (Sendai #4B and Sendai #5B) is also illustrative of missing war history. The site was the first to be bombed by U.S. Navy warships off Japan’s unguarded coastline. The iron works at this site, still owned by Nippon Steel, were among Japan’s largest. On July 14, 1945, more than 40 American, Dutch, New Zealand, and British POWs as well as hundreds of Japanese were killed in the bombardment.
Nippon Steel’s Yawata’s steel works (Fukuoka #3) was Japan’s most important armament manufacturer. The workforce was primarily composed of POWs who endured intense manual labor shoveling iron ore and tending the furnaces. Yawata was the primary target for the second atomic bomb. Cloud cover from aerial bombing on August 8, 1945, shifted the mission to Nagasaki, close to the Miike Coal Mine.
Japan’s unstated history of Allied slave labor at its UNESCO sites is part of a larger trend of the government’s rewriting history. The narratives presented at Japan’s industrial heritage sites also diminish the use of Korean forced labor and Chinese slave labor. This all dovetails with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s quest to retell Japan’s story in an uncritical, more glorious manner. So important was the UNESCO heritage designation to the former Abe administration that one cabinet adviser had the sole job of shepherding the application through UNESCO.
Highlighting the effort to annul history was last August’s 75th anniversary memorial address for the end of World War II. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, unlike his predecessors, did not mention, “learning from history” or having “remorse.” Instead, he said “we will never forget that the peace and prosperity we enjoy today was built atop the precious sacrifices of the war dead.”
This ahistorical take on Japan’s disastrous war is not a reassurance to UNESCO that Japan will correct the histories of its industrial heritage sites. Nor does it comfort the Quad allies that their shared history will not be recognized and reflected upon. Upholding historical facts is a value of democracy now being undermined by Japan as rapidly as in authoritarian China or Hungary. Japan’s defiance of UNESCO’s recommendations to explain the “full history” of its cultural properties shows how fragile the Quad’s so-called unifying principles are.
Mindy L. Kotler is director and founder of Asia Policy Point, a Washington think tank focused on Northeast Asia. She is also an adviser to the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society that represents the American POWs of Japan and their families.
Saturday, July 10, 2021
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Anthony Weller. Tony was the son of the Pulitzer-prize winning war correspondent George Weller (d. 2002). After his father's death, he compiled two books of George's unpublished war articles that were censored by the U.S. military. First into Nagasaki (2006) includes interviews with many POW liberated on Kyushu and an account of the hellship nightmare of the Oryoku Maru.Three years later, he edited and published Weller’s War (2009), a collection of his father’s World War II writing.
An accomplished jazz and classical guitarist and a widely published writer before primary progressive multiple sclerosis stilled his body starting in 2006, Weller was 63 when he died in his Gloucester home June 3 from complications of the illness. He was a high school classmate of mine, although I did not know him as he was a bit younger. However, our classmates had a steady fundraising campaign for him, so that he could live out his life at home instead of an institution. The motto of our high school is Non Sibi - Not for Oneself. Donations in his name to the school can be made here.
✪James D. Hornfischer. James died June 2, 2021 at age 55 after a lengthy illness. He was a gifted writer, naval historian, book editor, and literary agent. He is best known to the POW community as the chronicler of the USS Houston (CA-30) in his 2007 New York Times Best Seller, Ship of Ghosts: The Story of the USS Houston, FDR’s Legendary Lost Cruiser; and the Epic Saga of Her Survivors.
The author of several books focusing on the U.S. Navy, Hornfischer recently had been honored with the Navy Distinguished Public Service Award. His other naval history were: The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy’s Finest Hour; Neptune’s Inferno: The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal; and The Fleet at Flood Tide: America at Total War in the Pacific, 1944-1945. According to his official obituary, “Jim took great pride in the fact that each of his books has been placed on the Chief of Naval Operations’ Required Reading List.” A graduate of Colgate University, Hornfischer also earned two degrees at the University of Texas at Austin: an MBA from the McCombs School of Business and a Juris Doctor degree from UT’s School of Law. Soon after law school, he and his wife Sharon opened Hornfischer Literary Management, one of Austin’s first literary agencies.
Three additional Hornfischer books will be published posthumously: Destroyer Captain: The Last Stand of Ernest Evans, written with his son David J. Hornfischer; Who Can Hold the Sea: The US Navy in the Cold War, 1945-1960, and The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: A Graphic Novel Adaptation. His family has requested that donations in his memory be made to the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, where his archives are housed. His official obituary.
✪Judy Yung. Judy was the third wife of Eddie Fung, only Chinese-American soldier captured by Imperial Japan during World War II. There were, however, quite a number of Chinese Americans captured on Wake Island and from Navy vessels that were sunk. Born in San Francisco in 1922, Eddie left home at 16 to become a cowboy in Texas. He joined the National Guard at 17, and his unit was activated in November 1941 as part of the 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery of the 36th Infantry Division that was sent to Java, now part of Indonesia, to fight the invading Japanese in the early months of WWII. On March 8, 1942 he was surrendered by his Dutch commanders and soon sent to the Thai-Burma Death Railway.
Judy was introduced to Eddie by a military historian while doing research on Asian American men who had been in the U.S. Army and were taken as prisoners of war. Yung did nearly 50 hours of interviews with Fung that eventually led to a book titled The Adventure of Eddie Fung: Chinatown Kid, Texas Cowboy, Prisoner of War. He died in 2018. Then Senator Kamala Harris paid tribute to him with an extension of remarks in the Congressional Record on June 14, 2018. They married on April 1, 2003. Judy Yung was a pioneering scholar in Chinese American and women's history. The emerita professor of American studies, author, and scholar of Chinese American history at UC Santa Cruz, 74, passed away on December 14, 2020 after suffering a fall in her home.
Tuesday, July 06, 2021
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The Bataan Death March -- the merciless 65-mile trek by American and Filipino POWs up the Bataan Peninsula from Mariveles to San Fernando -- is part of the American language and lore. Many have some vague recognition of the war crime, although few know what happened, where, or when. April 9th is better remembered as the surrender at Appomattox than the surrender on Bataan.
But at least there is some effort not to forget.
This is not the case for the other "Death March" in the Philippines. This one took place four months later on the island of Mindanao over 800 miles south of Bataan. Although one day instead of weeks, the "Death March" was no less brutal or deadly.
At The Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal held between May 1946 to November 1948, the Philippine Prosecution Team presented and proved before the court 16 incidents of indignities, torture and barbarities committed against the Filipino and foreign Prisoners of Wars (POWs) and civilians. All were well-documented and easily proven. The Bataan Death March was already a legend by the time the trial started because of the sensational series articles about the March published in the Chicago Tribune in January 1944. The articles, turned into a book, were an account of the brutalities experienced by Col William Dyess who had escaped from a POW camp in the Philippines. Dyess, unfortunately, had died in a flight training accident in December 1943.
Among the 16 war crimes was the Iligan Death March that is also called, depending upon the writer, the Mindanao Death March or Dansalan Death March.
Although Gen. Sharp officially surrendered the Mindanao-Visayan Force on May 10th, 1942, the final surrender of units in the Lake Lanao area under Brigadier General Guy C. Fort did not take place until May 28, 1942. Fort surrendered at Camp Keithley approximately 300 Filipinos and 46 Americans (civilian and military) to the Japanese. Fort was executed by the Japanese on November 11, 1942 for refusing to give up his men who became guerrillas. He is the only American-born general officer to be executed by enemy forces.
On July 4, 1942, the POWs were made to march from Camp Keithley at Dansalan (now the Amai Pakpak Medical Center at Marawi City; Marawi was the site of a deadly ISIS-inspired Muslim insurgence in 2017) to Iligan, Lanao, a distance of about 25 miles (36 kilometers). Transport trucks, although available, were denied the POWs.
The Americans were arranged four abreast and strung together in columns by a telephone wire through their belts. The Filipino POWs, though unwired, had to walk barefooted. The March lasted from 8:00am to 7:00pm. The midday sun was unbearable. Without food and water, many of the men collapsed due to exhaustion and dehydration. Those who fell were shot in the forehead so they would not be rescued by guerrillas.
Few of the Americans on the March survived the entire war. It is unknown how many Filipinos were killed as they were soon paroled (released). Among those Americans that lived to be liberated in 1945, four are known to have recorded their memories of the March. They were: Victor L. Mapes, Herbert L. Zincke, Richard P. Beck and Frederick M. Fullerton, Jr. All have their accounts recorded by the Library of Congress' Veterans History Project.
Zincke published his account in his autobiography, Mitsui Madhouse: Memoir of a U.S. Army Air Corps POW in World War II (2002)
Mapes published his account in his autobiography, Butchers, the Baker: The World War II Memoir of a United States Army Air Corps Soldier Captured by the Japanese in the Philippines (2000)
There is still more research needed on this atrocity.
A summary of the Philippines Prosecution Team's charging document is here: POW Summation - Appendix B, Part II Summary of Evidence in Relation to Treatment of Prisoners-of-War, Civilian Internees and Inhabitants of the Philippine Islands Between December 1941 and September 1945. (p 24, F. Iligan Death March 106.)
The Japanese mockingly dubbed the Iligan Death March the “Independence Day March.
Friday, May 14, 2021
It was 1942. World War II had marched into its third year.
The Philippines, like Hawaii, at the time, was a coveted assignment for many American servicemen until the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy invaded.
The Filipino and American militaries joined forces.
Dr. Mickey McGee, the director of the Doctor of Business Administration program at Golden Gate University, told FOX40 his mother was with those forces serving as a guerrilla soldier.
“They were very loyal and courageous allies of the U.S. Army,” McGee said. “The Filipinos, fighting alongside their American comrades, were able to last as long as they could.”
When the Japanese reached the Bataan Peninsula, the Americans and Filipinos held out as long as they could.
“The Filipino and American forces in Bataan were able to disrupt the 50-day time table of the Imperial Japanese army and they held on for 99 days,” said Cecilia Gaerlan, executive director of the Bataan Legacy Historical Society.
“They were instrumental in basically slowing down their attack,” McGee said.
But ultimately, they couldn’t stop the Imperial Japanese Army. The Siege of Bataan would become one of the most devastating military defeats in American history where 76,000 Filipino and American troops were forced to surrender.
They would make what would become known as the Bataan Death March, a 65-mile walk to prison camps with little-to-no food or water.
McGee says his mom tried to help.
“I’ve heard stories of my mom was one of those people on the Bataan Death march,” McGee said. “And many of them got killed while they were trying to help.”
Gaerlan’s father, a lieutenant in the 41st infantry regiment, was a survivor of the death march.
Growing up, she says he’d share bits and pieces about his ordeal in a comedic way.
“He was like a one-man comic with sound effects,” Gaerlan recounted.
One particular story stands out, about what happened before the march, when the Japanese confiscated valuables such as watches and rings from the Filipinos and Americans.
“He had this toothbrush in his pocket. And it looked like a fountain pen. So, he didn’t want to give it away. And the Japanese guard grabbed it. And then, when he saw it was a toothbrush, my father had a grin and then the Japanese got mad at him, and hit him with the butt of a rifle. But the way he told it with his antics,” Gaerlan said.
In the end, only 54,000 of the 76,000 prisoners of war reached the camp.
“Some of the soldiers were writing their farewell letters. And some committed suicide because they couldn’t take it anymore,” Gaerlan said. “When I asked my father, ‘Did this happen?’ He broke down.”
Gaerlan’s father was one of the lucky ones which is why she founded the Bataan Legacy Historical Society.
The goal of the non-profit based in the Bay Area is to share the history of the Filipinos during the war so generations to come will know their sacrifice and bravery.
During her research, she read about an analysis of her dad’s regiment in the army and was moved beyond words
“When I was reading this document, I was crying because I didn’t know what really had happened to him in Bataan. And then when I asked him, well, he broke down. And that’s when I really found out what happened to him,” Gaerlan recalled.
The pain he and so many soldiers experienced in Bataan is what drives Gaerlan and McGee to make sure their parent’s service is never forgotten.
Gaerlan is working to get a Navy warship named for Telesforo Trinidad, the first Filipino sailor to receive the Medal of Honor in 1915.
Momote's 4,000-foot-long runway had been badly damaged by bombing, but it was revitalized by the Seabees of Mobile Construction Battalion 40, who began work on it only a few days after the February 29, 1944 landing. It is worthy of note that they did so while the area was still an active battlefield, a daring feat for which they received the Presidential Unit Citation. Here it is worth noting that the many airfields they and other units built across the Pacific are now abandoned. A little knowledge of the US campaigns during the Pacific War would provide many suggestions on locations and the challenges to rebuild US forces in the Pacific.
The plane was piloted by Rochester, New York native 1st Lt. Harold R. Prince. The crew included gunner TSgt Ashford H. Cardwell and engineer TSgt Anthony Zulkus. They were headed 500 miles across the Bismarck Sea to the then-Headquarters of the Fifth Air Force (15 June – 10 August 1944) at the Nadzab Airfield Complex on New Guinea. The weather was reported as good on the flight route. Before reaching New Guinea's northeast coast, possibly three-quarters toward Nadzab, the plane ran into engine trouble and the pilot attempted a crash landing on the water.
It was a hard landing. Prince, Cardwell, and Finnegan never surfaced. They went down with the plane. Zulkus miraculously survived the crash and was soon rescued. Although interviewed decades later by the founder of the acclaimed Pacific Wrecks website about the crash, his memory was understandably hazy. Prior to the flight, he did not know Lt. Finnegan. [If interested I can put you in contact with this researcher]
When the aircraft failed to arrive it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
MIA Lt. Finnegan was one of President Joe Biden's mother's brothers. The President is his uncle Lt. Finnegan's Primary Next Of Kin (PNOK).
President Biden is also possibly the second president with a MIA family member. Joseph Kennedy, Jr., the older brother of President John F. Kennedy, died in a plane explosion over the English Channel near the North Sea on August 12, 1944 and is listed on the Tablets of the Missing at Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial near Cambridge, England. However, the formal military definition of MIA is someone with whom contact is lost and whose whereabouts are not known, but whose death is not confirmed. Kennedy's death was confirmed, Finnegan's was not.
So, take a moment on May 14th to remember Lt. Finnegan, another hero of the Pacific War.
Lt Finnegan is remembered at the family grave [you can leave a flower or note at this website] and is on the Tablets of the Missing in the American Cemetery in Manila.
For more on MacArthur's New Guinea campaigns, see:
Sunday, April 25, 2021
|Mondale loved cigars|
By all accounts, even from the Vice President, Jimmy had a tough life with little help from his aunts and uncles. He lost both parents at an early age. His mother, Claribel Hope Mondale, a sister of Mondale's father died in childbirth when Jimmy was nine. After that he never lived in any one place for long, bouncing from relatives' homes or working as a farm hand.
At 21 in January 1941, Jimmy joined the Army. He was soon on his way to the Philippines, part of the rush to build up troops. He was assigned to the U.S. Army 60th Coast Artillery Corps helping man anti-aircraft guns on Corregidor with Battery F “Flint.” His commanding officer was Major Robert Douglass Glassburn, West Point ’32, who survived the sinking of Oryoku Maru and Enoura Maru, only to die upon arrival in Japan via the Brazil Maru on January 30, 1945 from malnutrition, exposure, and an infected leg wound.
Jimmy became a prisoner of Japan when the fortress Island fell on May 6, 1942. It can be assumed that he was herded with the 12,000 other POWs to the open-air, rocky beach of the 92nd Garage Area. For two weeks, exposed to the sun with limited water and provisions, he was held at this filthy, sinking few acres. It is possible he was given clean up duties or other tasks assigned by his capturers.
On May 25, the survivors were ferried to Manila, made to wade ashore, and forced on the “March of Shame” five miles down Dewey Boulevard to Bilibid Prison. Over the next few days the men were loaded into train stock cars for transport to the Cabanatuan POW camp north of Manila. There they joined the survivors of Camp O’Donnell, many of whom endured the Bataan Death March. It is also unknown what assignments or illnesses he had during this period of his captivity.
In mid-December 1944, the Japanese rounded up all ambulatory POWs in the Philippines for transport to Japan. Some researchers believe that this was in preparation to locate all the POWs together in Japan or China to use as hostages in peace negotiations. More than 1,600 men were loaded in the hold of the passenger ship the Oryoku Maru in Manila on December 13, 1945.
By the time the ship got underway and made the 60-some miles up to Subic Bay at least 50 POWs died packed shoulder to shoulder in the dark, sweltering containers. On December 14 and 15, American planes from the USS Hornet and USS Cabot attacked and sank the ship. The first bombs destroyed the forward hold killing 200 men. Among them was Pvt Cowan.
Jimmy’s body rests with the sea. His name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Cemetery in Manila. If he had survived the attack, he would have had to endure a week on a barren, sun exposed tennis court before being put aboard the Enoura Maru or Brazil Maru to Formosa (Taiwan). If he was aboard the Enoura Maru, the same group of planes from the USS Hornet would have bombed the ship while in port. Four hundred men died from that attack.
The survivors were consolidated on board the Brazil Maru for the trip north to Japan’s frigid port of Moji. Of the 1,619 POWs who had boarded the Oryoku Maru in Manila, the Philippines, less than 600 survived to arrive in Moji, Japan on January 30, 1945. Of those, nearly 200 died in Japanese POW camps in Japan, Korea, and China, with most dying in the first few days at Moji. Only 403 men of the original 1,619 survived to be liberated in August 1945.
I became involved in Pvt Cowan’s story upon reading about the discovery on Corregidor, and subsequent return, of his dogtags to his sister in 2013. The story noted that their mother was former Ambassador Mondale’s aunt. This connection to a soldier on Corregidor was something no one had ever mentioned.
This was of personal interest, because in the spring of 1974, I was one of the first two female Exeter-Andover Washington interns (I was among the first classes of girls to attend Exeter). I was assigned to Mondale’s Senate office. Subsequently, I interned or worked for him while he was vice president and at his pre-presidential campaign law/consulting firm.
Thus, at a meeting in Washington, I approached him and asked him about his cousin. At first startled that someone knew this connection, he said yes that Jimmy was his cousin who he believed had died on the Death March. Most people think if someone fought in the Philippines they were on the Death March, which is generally not true.
I said Jimmy was not on the March and offered to put together some basic facts about his cousin. He was a bit hesitant, but agreed. Mr. Mondale, I discovered, had a very fraught relationship with his family. The Depression took a toll on family ties and he was estranged from his brothers.
In 2018, the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society was planning a memorial ceremony and booklet for the placement of a memorial stone in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii to the men who perished on the Enoura Maru. It occurred to me that Mondale might see the booklet as a way to finally and properly remember his cousin.
Thus, I approached him again asking if he wanted a memorial page to Jimmy and offered to write it for his approval. It was not an easy yes for Mondale. He never asked if he could make a donation and hesitated to even review the draft. Nonetheless, he approved the draft shortly before the booklet was to go to press. It is significant that he did.
As Ambassador to Japan and afterward, Mr. Mondale was a keen and well-rewarded advocate for Japan. At two critical junctures he failed his cousin and undermined progress toward justice for the POWs of Japan. In 1995, when the Japanese government under Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama was putting together the Peace Friendship and Exchange Initiative, the U.S. State Department and Embassy in Tokyo, under his watch, did nothing to advocate for American POWs to be included in this extensive, multi-million dollar outreach program for Allied POWs. Thus, they were noticeably excluded.
The American POWs were not offered any program until they, themselves, advocated with the Japanese Embassy and the Obama Administration. Trips to Japan for former POWs did not begin until 2010. The result was that only a handful of POWs who survived to their 90s could benefit from Japan’s conciliatory effort. Some of the good feeling generated by the trips was undone by Abe’s April 29, 2015 [Hirohito’s birthday] speech to a joint meeting of Congress where he thanked the POWs for their “tolerance.”
In 2001, a group of American POWs of Japan were suing in the courts and advocating in Congress for a right to sue the 60-some Japanese corporations that benefited from their slave labor. Mondale worked closely with the Bush Administration and the Japanese Embassy to tell legislators and opinion leaders that allowing compensation for the POWs would abrogate the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty and undermine the entire U.S. treaty system.
Although the Dutch and others had long abrogated the treaty with their own side deals; and the issue of corporate compensation could easily be argued, especially after the 2000 Berlin Accords establishing payments to those who were slave laborers for German companies, the White House and the Japanese prevailed. On September 25, 2001, Mondale and former ambassadors to Japan Thomas S. Foley and Michael H. Armacost issued an op ed in the Washington Post, “Pacific Deal” mirroring a letter circulating in Congress by former Secretary of State George Shultz opposing legislation that would permit POW suits against Japan. The essay repeated Shultz, “I have always supported the best of treatment for our veterans, especially those who were involved in combat. If they are not being adequately taken care of, we should always be ready to do more -- but let us not unravel confidence in the commitment of the United States to a treaty properly negotiated and solemnly ratified with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.”
The campaign against the POWs was successful. Senator Daniel Inouye and his friend Senator Ted Stevens engineered killing in a November 8, 2001, 4:00 am conference meeting an amendment to the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and related agencies Appropriations Act, 2002, that would have prevented the Departments of State and the Justice from opposing POW lawsuits. And the Bush State Department filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court. Douglas Hallward-Driemeier, the young lawyer and Rhodes Scholar who composed the brief, was even awarded the Department of State’s “Superior Honor Award” in recognition of successful representation of the United States in numerous appeals involving World War II-era claims (2003).
One of the first things I learned in Senator Mondale’s office was when I was tasked to escort the Senator to a meeting. I was panicked as he seemed to refuse to gather himself to get to the meeting on time. When I worried he was going to be late, he put down his cigar and told the teenage me flatly, that “the important people are always late.”
Yes, Mondale was late to remember his cousin who died in service to his country. But, in the end, he did. Whereas the Japanese have escaped responsibility, he eventually embraced it.
Monday, April 19, 2021
RECOGNIZING DANIEL CROWLEY OF SIMSBURY, CONNECTICUT
HON. JAHANA HAYES
in the House of Representatives
Friday, April 16, 2021
Mrs. HAYES. Madam Speaker, I rise today to call your attention to National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day, which takes place annually on April 9th. This day honors the men and women who fought two battles, one in combat and another in enduring untold brutality by our enemies.
April 9th is also the 79th anniversary of the start of the infamous 1942 Bataan Death March in the Philippines. Invading Imperial Japanese forces forced more than 80,000 American and Filipino soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines to walk 65 miles up the Bataan Peninsula in the tropical heat without food, water, or medical care while subjecting them to beatings, bayonetting, and beheading. Thousands died.
One of my constituents, Daniel Crowley of Simsbury, Connecticut, is a survivor of the Battle of Bataan. A member of the U.S. Army Air Corps, he was sent to Bataan in December 1941 after Japan destroyed the military airfields in the Philippines. He was part of the United States Army's Provisional Air Corps Infantry Regiment and fought in the historic Battle of the Points on the Peninsula.
Daniel avoided the Bataan Death March by swimming from Mariveles on Bataan through three miles of shark-infested and mined waters to the fortress island of Corregidor. There, he became part of the 4th Marines Regimental Reserve who fought a dangerous and desperate shore defense until Corregidor fell to Japan on May 6, 1942.
He was one of 300 Prisoners of War sent to build an airstrip on Palawan Island for the Japanese Army. Today this site serves as the Philippine Air Force's Antonio Bautista Air Base. Daniel was fortunate to be transferred off the island before the December 14, 1944 Palawan Massacre where the 150 Prisoners of War remaining on the island were doused with aircraft fuel, set afire, and machine gunned to death.
Instead, Daniel was shipped to Japan aboard a ``hellship'' to be a laborer in two copper mines: one owned by Hitachi Ltd. and the other, Ashio, owned by the Furukawa Company Group. He labored alongside Japanese and conscripted Korean miners as well as Allied and American Prisoners of War from the United States, United Kingdom, Singapore, Hong Kong, Dutch East Indies, Norway, Australia, and China.
After liberation in September 1945, Daniel returned home to Connecticut. He raised a family and became a storied salesman for Northwestern Mutual.
On January 4, 2021, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont proclaimed "Pacific War Heroes Day" in Daniel's honor. After 76 years, Daniel, 98, finally received his long-denied Combat Infantryman Badge, a Prisoner of War Medal, and his previously unknown 1945 promotion to Sergeant in a ceremony held at the Air National Guard Base outside Hartford, Connecticut.
Madam Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me in honoring now Sergeant Daniel Crowley for his extraordinary service to our country fighting tyranny and oppression. His and the more than 200 American Prisoners of War of Japan from Connecticut have a history we must never forget.
Friday, April 09, 2021
|April 9, 2021 by Mindy Kotler|
Wednesday, April 07, 2021
USSTTC is a U.S. registered non-profit [501 (c)(3)] and a national grassroots advocacy group comprised of serving and retired members of the U.S. military, community leaders, academics, corporate executives, civic leaders and veterans’ families. Its Chairman is Capt. Ronald Ravelo, USN, Ret., former Commander of the USS Abraham Lincoln and Col. Nonie Cabana, USAF-Ret. is its Executive Director.
For more information, please visit Facebook/USSTTC.
Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Discovering My Father - Nancy Kragh
Saturday, March 20, 2021
|Chairman Tester (D-MT)|
Jan Thompson, president of the ADBC-MS told the Committee members:
The final and fourth battle for the American POWs of Japan is for them not to be forgotten. Current and future generations can be inspired by their “victory from within.” There are still lessons to be learned. Most important, Congressional advocacy for the POW’s legacy reassures today’s fighting men and women that their service and sacrifice will be remembered.
To ensure that the POWs’ unique history is appreciated and retained, I ask Congress to:
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” that began in 2010 and how it compares with programs for (i) other Allied POWs and (ii) the Kakehashi people exchange program in the United States.
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 honor its 2015 promise to include the “full history” of Japan’s UNESCO World Industrial Heritage properties of the Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining. The history of POW slave labor at many of these sites is not included at either the locations or the new Tokyo Information Center.
6. Encourage the Government of Japan to create a memorial for the Allied POWs of WWII at the Port of Moji on Kyushu where most of the POW hellships docked and unloaded their sick and dying human cargo.
Thursday, March 18, 2021
|click to purchase|
10:00AM to 10:50AM (EDT)
Patriots from the Barrio
With Dave Gutierrez, author and historian. In 2019 he was named President of Nuevo Mundo Historical and Genealogical Society of Silicon Valley. Patriots from the Barrio (2019) is the true story of Company E, 141st US Infantry: the only all Mexican American US Army unit in WWII and one with deep connections with his own family. The film rights to the book have been obtained in Hollywood.
PURCHASE BOOK: https://amzn.to/3s3IZ9X
11:00AM to 11:50AM (EDT)
Discovering My Father
With Nancy Kragh, former vice president of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society. She was instrumental in having a memorial stone to the POWs of the ill-fated hellship Enoura Maru. Her presentation centers on her father's experiences as a POW of Imperial Japan during WWII and her odyssey to connect with a father she did not know who died on the Enoura Maru. She is a member of the American World War II Orphans Network (AWON), which unites the 183,000 Americans who lost a parent to World War II.
PURCHASE BOOK: (not by Ms. Kragh, Father Found by Duane Heisinger) https://amzn.to/3s1exNz
12:00PM to 1:15PM (EDT)
The Kitchen Front: Cooking with Rations in Second World War Britain
With Jennifer Ryan, author of The Chilbury Ladies' Choir, The Spies of Shilling Lane, and The Kitchen Front. Originally from Britain, where she was a book editor with The Economist, DK, and the BBC, she now lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and two children. The Kitchen Front (2021), a novel, was inspired by her grandmother's tales of the war.
PURCHASE BOOK: https://amzn.to/3qYTXfB
Sunday, March 07, 2021
Holmes was a member of the Overseas Press Club Foundation and past president and board member of the Society of the Silurians, the nation’s oldest press club. She was also an associate member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers.
She wrote three influential books about POW experiences, 4000 Bowls of Rice: A Prisoner of War Comes Home, Unjust Enrichment: American POWs Under the Rising Sun (of which there are two editions , 2000 and 2008, with the second having a new forward), and Guests of the Emperor: The Secret of Japan’s Mukden POW Camp. She also completed and published POW archivist Roger Mansell's book on the men and women captured on Guam by the Japanese in December 1941, Captured: The Forgotten Men of Guam.
Along with her older sister, Susan, she attended Scarsdale schools. According to the Scarsdale Alumni Association, Holmes was “the wittiest in her class”. The caption under her senior photo was “Lady of the Press”.
After graduating from Wellesley College in 1955, Holmes jumped into the world of broadcast. She worked in the television production department at Ted Bates & Co., a pioneering advertising agency in Manhattan, and at CBS Television.
In 1959, she married Theodore Edward Holmes. The couple had two sons and later divorced.
In 1994, Holmes published her first book, 4000 Bowls of Rice, about Allied prisoners of the Japanese who built the Burma Railway. The book was inspired by a conversation over dinner on Shelter Island with an Australian friend, who’d spent three and a half years in POW camps in Java, Burma, and Thailand.
Holmes relates how Cecil Dickson, who served with the Australian Pioneer Battalion, off-handedly marveled while passing a serving dish of rice, that even though he’d eaten nothing but rice for over 3,800 consecutive meals, he still enjoyed it.
Dickson, also a journalist, was the first POW Holmes met who had actually worked on the Death Railway made famous in the film The Bridge on the River Kwai. After he passed away, his widow sent to Holmes a packet of letters that he’d written during his time as a POW. Holmes conducted research and connected Dickson’s stories of forced labor to records kept about Allied prisoners who built the notorious Thai-Burma Death railway.
In 4000 Bowls of Rice: A Prisoner of War Comes Home, which includes photographs taken in secret by POWs and not previously published, Holmes tells a story of slave labor that had not before been reported. She said she was inspired by the spirit of the prisoners, “the indomitable determination to look ahead because if you dwell on the past you are still a captive in your own mind.”
What enabled the POWs to survive unspeakable hardship? “They helped each other. They helped each other have the will to live.”
The book was added to the John E. Taylor collection of military history and intelligence volumes at the National Archives Library in College Park, Maryland, the National POW Museum at Andersonville GA, and the Australian War Memorial.
Richard Myers, a senior archivist for the National Archives Modern Military Records, was among the people Holmes got to know well during her research. It was at his recommendation that she became the first Pacific War historian appointed to the U.S. Government Interagency Working Group (IWG). It was formed in 1999 under the aegis of the National Archives to locate and declassify material about World War II war crimes. The agency made a final report to Congress in 2007.
In her work with the IWG, Holmes interviewed more than 400 ex-prisoners of war, their families, American and Japanese military personnel and historians, government and banking officials, and archivists from around the globe to authenticate what happened to prisoners in Japanese hands and why.
She presented her findings before audiences at the National Security Agency Center for Cryptologic History, the National Museum of the Pacific War (Admiral Nimitz Museum), and numerous civic groups, veterans organizations, and classrooms throughout the country. You can watch an interview with Holmes recorded for the Robert H. Jackson center on YouTube.
Holmes was a long time resident of Shelter Island’s Hay Beach and had also lived in Manhattan. She was president of the Hay Beach Property Owners Association (HBPOA) for two separate terms and served as the organization’s unofficial historian. She contributed to Then & Now: The Story of Hay Beach, a publication of the Shelter Island Historical Society and the HBPOA.
In that book, you can see photos of her beloved colonial-era home on Dinah Rock Road, a circa 1775 house that she had transported by barge from Cutchogue. Holmes bought the house in 1968 and a year later hired the Davis Brothers to transport it across the bay to a lot she’d purchased for $7,000.
Holmes was predeceased by her parents and sister. She is survived by her sons, Philip and Theodore. The Shelter Island Funeral Home assisted the family, who received friends on Tuesday, August 25 at the Parish Hall at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. Funeral services were held the following morning officiated by the Rev. Charles McCarron. Interment followed at St. Mary’s Cemetery.
Editor’s note: This article was adapted from one that first appeared in the Shelter Island Reporter. Their intern Maeve Browne contributed to researching and writing this report. They owe special thanks to Patrick Clifford of the Hay Beach Property Owners Association for bringing this remarkable woman’s story to our attention. Thanks also to Katherine Moore at the Shelter Island Public Library for quickly locating Linda Holmes’ books for us to read.
Saturday, February 20, 2021
Ned Lamont, the Governor of Connecticut, declared January 4, 2021
As of this writing, the Proclamation has yet to be put online.
Behind this honor, was a ceremony for Daniel Crowley who was a prisoner of war held by Imperial Japan after being surrendered on Corregidor in May 1942. On the 4th, Dan finally received is Combat Infantryman Badge, POW Medal, and previously unknown promotion to Sergeant.
You can watch the ceremony above and find out more though the press coverage of the Department of Defense ceremony held on that day at the Connecticut Air National Guard Base
U.S. Department of Defense
After 75 Years, Veteran Will Receive Honors for WWII Service By C. Todd Lopez, DoD News, 12/31/2020
WWII Vet Dan Crowley, Defense.gov, 1/8/2021
World War II Vet, POW Who Endured 'Hell Ship,' Gets CIB, Promotion, POW Medal By C. Todd Lopez, DoD News, 1/6/2021
WWII Vet Dan Crowley Full Ceremony Video, DoD posted 1/14/2021
Commemorating WWII - Veteran Vignette
In process, to be posted at https://www.defense.gov/Explore/Spotlight/WWII/
Connecticut Air National Guard’s 103rd Airlift Wing Facebook Coverage
Connecticut man who refused to surrender, survived World War II slave labor receives honors, promotion 75 years later By Jesse Leavenworth, Hartford Courant, 1/4/202
Connecticut WWII Vet Honored 75 Years Later, NBC Connecticut, 1/4/20