Thursday, December 09, 2021

Brooks Field dedicated in 1942 to a heroic
African American tanker

 of kentucky 
 in the house of representatives 
 Tuesday, December 7, 2021

 Mr. GUTHRIE. Madam Speaker, today, on the 80th anniversary of the attacks on U.S. naval forces at Pearl Harbor, we remember poignantly the courage and sacrifice of America's Greatest Generation. That legacy of service is rich in Kentucky's Second District, exemplified by the seemingly insurmountable challenges faced by Company D of the 192nd Tank Battalion, which included the Harrodsburg Tankers. 

On December 8th, across the international dateline and just hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese bombers descended on Company D and other U.S. forces who were stationed in the Philippines at Clark Field. A young private and Kentuckian by the name of Robert H. Brooks attempted to sprint to his station to fight back against Japanese forces. Sadly, he lost his life during his heroic action. He was the first casualty of the U.S. Armored Forces in World War II. The fighting in the Philippines was relentless for the U.S. service members and Company D. All of the remaining 66 Mercer County natives-- known today as the Harrodsburg Tankers--survived the initial conflict. However, 29 soldiers were lost to the unimaginable conditions during the three years they were held at prisoner-of-war camps. 

 At Fort Knox there is a parade field named after Private Brooks, called Brooks Field, and we will never forget him and those brave soldiers. The bravery of Private Brooks, Company D, and its tankers from Harrodsburg are an indelible reminder of the price of freedom for all that we must never forget.

👉This is the text that was submitted to Congressman Brett Guthrie's (R-KY) office to use. It is interesting to see what history was cut out by the congressman.

Madam Speaker, I rise today to remember the life and sacrifice of Private Robert H. Brooks, an American hero from Kentucky, who gave his life defending liberty on December 7, 1941. He did not perish at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, but during a same-day attack by Imperial Japan on the American territory of the Philippines. Brooks, 26, was the first American tank battalion member to be killed in World War II and possibly the first African American.

We cannot forget that on December 7, 1941, December 8th across the international dateline, Japan descended upon not only Pearl Harbor but also upon the Philippine Islands, Guam, Wake Island, Howland Island, Midway, Malaya, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. Whereas the attack on Pearl Harbor was to discourage U.S. action in Asia, the other strikes served as preludes to full-scale invasions and brutal military occupation.

Pvt. Brooks was a member of the 192nd Tank Battalion, Company D, which originated as the 38th Divisional Tank Company of the Kentucky National Guard from Harrodsburg, Kentucky. The 192nd arrived in the Philippines in late November 1941 and was sent immediately to guard Clark Field at Fort Stotsenburg. Soon after Japan’s Pearl Harbor attack, waves of Japanese bombers appeared over the air fields in the Philippines.

Brooks was killed running to his M3 Half-track hoping to man its .50 caliber machine gun. When the news of Pvt. Robert H. Brooks, the first battle casualty of the Armored Force, reached Fort Knox, the Commanding General, Jacob Devers, ordered that the main parade ground at the base from that day on be named after the young tanker.

In inviting Brooks’ parents to the naming ceremony, it was discovered that they were Black tenant farmers from rural Kentucky. At the time, the Army’s Armored Force was segregated.

When this was reported back to General Devers, he said, “It does not matter whether or not Robert was Black, what mattered was that he had given his life for his country.” At the dedication of Brooks Field on December 23, Major General Devers said “In death, there is no grade or rank. And in this greatest democracy the world has ever known, neither riches nor poverty, neither creed nor race, draws a line of demarcation in this hour of national crisis.”

Pvt. Brooks was not alone in his determination and dedication to service. His Company D and 192nd Tank Battalion held out in the Battle of Bataan with dwindling supplies, rampant disease, and little rest until they were surrendered by their commanders on April 9, 1942. Rescue did not come nor was it planned. What followed was the infamous Bataan Death March, capricious abuse, starvation, hellships, and slave labor in Japan. By war’s end, barely half of the men and women surrendered on Bataan had survived. Only 37 or the 66 men from Harrodsburg returned home.

So today, I ask you to remember the bravery of both Pvt. Brooks and General Devers who defied convention to do what was right to advance democracy and equality. I invite you to visit Brooks Field at Fort Knox in my district to pay your respects to them. And I ask you not to forget the brave men of the 192nd Tank Battalion who withstood fascism in battle and in captivity, half of whom did not return home.

From the Congressional Record [Page S8959]


December 7, 2012

Ms. DUCKWORTH. Mr. President, I rise today on Pearl Harbor Day to remind my colleagues that on December 7, 1941, Imperial Japan attacked not only Pearl Harbor but also the Philippine Islands, Guam, Wake Island, Howland Island, Midway, Malaya, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Bangkok.

In the Philippines that day, 89 men from Maywood, IL, who made up Company ``B'' of the 192nd Tank Battalion--federated National Guard units from Illinois, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Ohio--defended Clark Field from invading Japanese forces. They had arrived in the Philippines less than 3 weeks earlier.

These Illinois tankers watched helplessly as Japan's modern planes flew beyond the reach of their guns and destroyed the airfield. They then fought valiantly on the Bataan Peninsula with antiquated weapons and dwindling supplies. Relief from the United States never came. Though they held out for months, the men, overcome with fatigue, starvation, and disease, were surrendered by their commanders on April 9, 1942.

What followed was the infamous Bataan Death March 100 miles up the peninsula to a makeshift prison camp. Thousands died. Maywood, a hamlet outside of Chicago, had the greatest number of men from any single American town on the Death March. They would not all make it home. Those who survived the initial march endured 3 and a half years of death camps, brutal forced labor, and unimaginable abuse. More than half the Americans taken prisoner on Bataan died before they could see the war's end. Of the 89 Maywood men of Company ``B'' who left the U.S. in 1941, only 43 returned home in 1945.

For 79 years, Maywood has celebrated and remembered its heroes of Bataan with an annual September Memorial. Like many important celebrations in COVID, this was the second year that the memorial had to be postponed. But we do not forget the men of Maywood. From the Bataan-Corregidor Memorial Bridge in Chicago to Maywood's Bataan Memorial Park, my home State of Illinois recalls daily their sacrifice for liberty.

As a retired member of the Illinois National Guard myself, today is a solemn day--a day that will forever live in infamy--when we are reminded of the sacrifices made and the brave lives lost in service to our Nation. I am proud to have served with my Illinois National Guard family and work to continue to bring respect, remembrance, and honor to such a strong legacy.

Therefore, I ask my fellow Senators to join me on this 80th anniversary of Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and to remember the other Americans who fought and died throughout the Pacific that day. Although the aim of the December 7 surprise attack on Hawaii's Pearl Harbor was to destroy the U.S. Pacific Fleet in its home port and to discourage U.S. action in Asia, the other strikes served as preludes to full-scale invasion and brutal military occupation.

I further ask my colleagues 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, as well as Ms. Jan Thompson, president of the Illinois-based American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society, who are committed to honoring and preserving the history of the men and women of Bataan who gave so much in the fight against tyranny and fascism. They, too, are the part of the story of Pearl Harbor Day and in keeping the memory of the men of Maywood alive to this day.

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Eighty Years Ago, Japan Assaulted More Than Pearl Harbor

Kota Bharu

On December 7, 1941, Japan expanded its war on the Asian mainland south and eastward into the Pacific.

by Mindy L. Kotler

National Interest, Dec 7, 2021

Eighty years ago today, December 7, 1941, critical airfields and ports across Southeast Asia and the Pacific were ablaze and in ruin. In just seven hours, Imperial Japan’s surprise attacks cripled British and American forces in the Far East, exposed the Dutch East Indies to invasion, and pushed Thailand into submission. The bombing of Pearl Harbor was but one of many that day. Casualties of the “Associated Powers,” likely exceeded those in Hawaii. One result of these unprovoked attacks was the creation of alliances that endure to this day.

Japan coordinated attacks on the U.S. territories of Philippines, Guam, Wake Island, Howland Island, and Midway and the British Empire in Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Japanese forces invaded and bombed Thailand’s airfields. In Shanghai, Japan took control of the International Settlement after blowing up the last two British and American gunboats on the Yangtze, the HMS Peterel and the USS Wake.  

The first attack, 70 minutes before Pearl Harbor, was on British-Indian forces at Kota Bharu, on the eastern side of Malaya. Hours before, a British flying boat was shot down by Japanese aircraft while monitoring the progress of the Japanese fleet. The British Royal Air Force crew and their Royal Australian Air Force observer became the first Allied casualties of the war. The ensuing defense of northeastern Malaya was fierce and savage with high casualties on both sides. 

Soon after, Bangkok was bombed and Japanese troops landed to its south and at various points along the Kra Peninsula on the southeastern coast of Thailand. Again, the invaders met with stiff resistance. Despite determined Thai forces, the fighting lasted only five hours. Prime Minister Plaek Phibunsongkhram agreed to a ceasefire and formed an alliance with Japan. The Kota Bharu landings were a prelude to the drive down the eastern side of the Malay peninsula, while the Japanese troops landed in Thailand advanced with Thai soldiers down the western side to seize Singapore and its naval base--the cornerstone of British power in the Indo-Pacific. Japanese planes bombed Singapore that day in warning.

Japan’s early morning attack on Pearl Harbor on Hawaii’s Oahu, was followed by the bombardments of the American airfields on Midway and Howland Island in the equatorial Pacific. Two of the four Hawaii settlers on Howland were killed. For his selfless defense of Midway, First Lieutenant George H. Cannon became the first U.S. Marine in World War II to receive the Medal of Honor.

Guam was shelled, bombed, and invaded. The American territory fell two days later. Of the nearly 500 American military personnel taken to Japan from Guam as prisoners of war, five were female nurses. Japanese troops occupied Batan Island above Northern Luzon in the Philippines before mounting a full-scale invasion. This approach on Aparri on the coast of Cagayan Valley, believed by American war planners as impractical, caught the defenders off-guard and unprepared. The success of the surprise assault was played out just this past fall when U.S., Filipino, and Japanese forces held their first joint amphibious exercises near this Northern Luzon town.

Six hours after the Pearl Harbor attack, the Japanese bombed Hong Kong’s Kai Tak Airport and pushed the defending British and Commonwealth troops to the defensive Gin Drinkers Line. The territory, however, was long regarded as indefensible. Nevertheless British, Indian, Canadian  units along with the Auxiliary Defence Units and Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps (HKVDC) held out for two weeks against a Japanese force twice its size.

The Japanese attacked Wake Island about the same time as they bombed Hong Kong. The Americans on Wake Island were composed of 400 Marines, a handful of soldiers and sailors, 45 Chamorro Pan Am employees,  and 1,146 unarmed civilian contractors building an airfield. They proceeded to do what had never been done before or after, hold off an Armada for nearly two weeks. They did not surrender until December 23rd.

The last Japanese actions on December 7th were the bombing of the Iba and Clark airfields in southern Luzon, the Philippines. As in Hawaii, the Japanese caught the American planes on the ground and the defense weak. The guns of neither the ageing artillery batteries nor tank battalions defending the fields could reach the high flying Japanese planes. Whereas the attack on Pearl Harbor damaged the Pacific Fleet, the attack on the Philippines and other U.S. territories destroyed the Far East Air Force. 

The first battle casualty of the Armored Force in World War II, Pvt. Robert Brooks of Kentucky’s Company D, 192nd Tank Battalion, took place on Clark Field. Back at Fort Knox, the home of the newly formed Armored Force, the Commanding General Jacob Devers responded to the news by ordering that the main parade ground at the base be named after the young tanker. This distinction was particularly significant as Brooks turned out to be African American.

On December 7, 1941, Japan expanded its war on the Asian mainland south and eastward into the Pacific. The primary objective was to knock out American and British opposition to its advance into Southeast Asia. The ultimate goal was occupation of the Indo-Pacific, control over  its valuable natural resources, and supremacy over the region's seas. As the sun set, Japan's success seemed possible.

Instead, the day’s debacles forged alliances with a resolve to fight fascist expansionism East and West. The “Associated Powers” (Britain, the Netherlands, and the United States) became the Allies and expanded to include India, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and free forces from Japan’s occupied territories. The shared bitter experience of Imperial Japan’s wanton brutality and deceits provided the emotional bond to this warfighting coalition. Ironically, these very alliances are what Japan today looks to in defending its homeland. 

Monday, November 08, 2021

Remembering Dan Crowley - November 12, 2021


Nichols Field, Bataan, Corregidor, Palawan, Japan
Nippon Mining and Furukawa Mining copper mines

NOVEMBER 12, 2021, 2:00 PM followed by a reception
Simsbury, Connecticut (outside Hartford)

Service: Simsbury Meadows Performing Arts Center, 22 Iron Horse Blvd, Simsbury, CT 06070. 

Reception: Maple Tree Cafe, 781 Hopmeadow Street, Simsbury, CT 06070
All welcome! Hope to see you there.  Have an IP on Dan.

All are invited Friday, November 12th at 2:00PM in Simsbury, Connecticut for the Celebration of Life for WWII vet and former POW of Japan Sgt. Daniel Crowley. The program will feature U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, Pentagon, and White House officials as well as a color guard from the USS Bataan (LHD-5).

A lifelong Connecticut resident, Dan fought as an airman, infantryman, and Marine in the historic 1941-42 battle for Bataan and siege of Corregidor. He was a POW of Japan for over three years where he was forced to construct by hand with 300 other POWs the airfield on Palawan Island for the Imperial Japanese Army that is today the Antonio Bautista Air Base, which is instrumental in the U.S.-Philippines Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.

This airfield was the site of the infamous Palawan massacre. Dan had been shipped to Japan in 1944 to work in copper mines owned by companies known today as JX Nippon Mining & Metals and Furukawa Company before his fellow POWs on the island were set afire and murdered. In 2003, he helped fund and dedicate a new new marker on the mass grave of 123 men massacred on Palawan who he had worked alongside building the airfield. Their remains were returned to the United States after the war and buried in a common grave at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis.


The program will be livestreamed HERE.

A video of the event will be found HERE.

Learn more about Dan's extraordinary life HERE.

Tax-deductible Donations to the ADBC-MS HERE.

Honoring the Unknown Soldier


For the first time in nearly 100 years, and as part of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial Commemoration, the public will be able to walk on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Plaza and lay flowers in front of the Tomb on Nov. 9 and 10, 2021, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

On Veterans Day the public is invited to observe a joint full honors procession, meant to replicate elements of the World War I Unknown Soldier’s 1921 funeral procession followed by a flyover with aircraft from all the armed services branches.

Event Participation: What to Know.       Army Commemoration Website.

Registration is required at

Of the more than 72,000 American service men and women are still missing from World War II, 65 percent or more than 47,000 are missing in the Indo-Pacific. Most are presumed lost at sea, many dying as POWs in Japanese hellships.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

POW History Convention

11th annual American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Memorial Society Virtual Convention 

THIS WEEKEND: October 23 and 24, 2021. VIRTUAL 
The convention is free, but only open to members. Membership is a mere $40! JOIN HERE.

If you are interested in the history of the war in the Pacific or POW history this is a must join organization.

Schedule Here

Click the links to order the books.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Telling Time

Took a licking and kept on ticking

‘Emotional moment’ to get watch for longtime WT supporters

by JON MARK BEILUE, West Texas A&M University

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.”

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.”

Sunday, July 25, 2021

UNESCO and Japan’s Rewriting of History

At UNESCO, Japan lays bare the difficulties of achieving shared values within the Quad.

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. 

Unfortunately, UNESCO identifies POWs only as “others. This euphemism affirms Japan’s effort to censor its war crimes and rewrite the history of World War II. UNESCO members Australia, the United Kingdom, India, Norway, and the Netherlands need to insist that “others” means their veterans.

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

Significant passings

click to order
Over the past six months the POW community has lost three notable chroniclers of the POW experience with Imperial Japan. Their body of work expanded knowledge about the American POWs and their eloquent writing made the history accessible and memorable. 

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

On the 4th of July 1942

click to order

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)

You can read more about the March HERE and HERE.  This blog post borrows heavily from both essays.

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.

Never Forget

Friday, May 14, 2021

Group highlights Filipino bravery during WWII


SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KTXL) May 12, 2021 — The history between the Philippines and the United States is deeply rooted in World War II.

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.

Remembering President Biden's Uncle

On May 14, 1944 at 5:05pm 2nd Lt. Ambrose J. Finnegan, Jr., 29, an U.S. Army Air Force courier, took off as a passenger aboard an A-20G Havoc (42-86768), "Black Sunday" from Momote Airfield on Los Negros Island in the Admiralty Islands. Los Negros is separated from Manus Island by the narrow loniu Passage.

The airfield had only been wrested from the Japanese in early March during the Admiralty Islands Campaign (Operation Brewer) by the US Army's 1st Cavalry Division.

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: 

Island Hopping toward Japan 1943-44, US Army Center of Military History

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Ambassador Mondale's Cousin Jimmy

Mondale loved cigars
The passing of Walter Mondale (1928-2021) this week highlights another POW story. His first cousin James “Jimmy” Cowan died in the Philippines as a prisoner of Imperial Japan. Despite this family connection, the former U.S. Ambassador to Japan (1993-1996), Vice President (1977-81), and U.S. Senator from Minnesota (1964-1916) did very little to assist or defend the American POWs of Japan.

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

Congresswoman Jahana Hayes honors POW of Japan

Congressional Record Vol. 167, No. 66 (Extensions of Remarks - April 16, 2021)



              HON. JAHANA HAYES

              of Connecticut

               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

THE Flag returns

April 9, 2021 by Mindy Kotler

At midnight, beginning April 9,  2021, National Former POW Recognition Day and the 79th Anniversary of the fall of Bataan and the start of the Bataan Death March in the Philippines, President Joe Biden returned the POW/MIA flag atop the White House below the Stars & Stripes. It had flown there everyday since the late-90s, but was removed on Flag Day, June 14, 2020 by the previous occupant of the residence.
Thank you Joe!

The public announcement was made at the daily White House press briefing by Press Secretary Ms. Jen Psaki: 
You may have also noticed another flag flying above the White House today. 
 In keeping with the President and the First Lady’s commitment to honor the sacrifices of all those who serve — including veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors — the President and First Lady have restored the POW/MIA flag to its original location on top of the White House Residence.
In a true display of bipartisanship, Senators Hassan, Warren, and Cotton wrote to the President at the beginning of the administration requesting the POW/MIA flag fly high above the Residence. This follows passage of a bipartisan — bipartisan legislation in 2019, led by those same senators, which requires the flag to be displayed whenever the American flag flies on federal buildings. 
Today, also happens to be National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day — a day when we remember and honor those who were in captivity in service to our nation and recognize those who awaited their return.
Office of the President of the United States

APRIL 9, 2021 

Throughout our Nation’s history, those who have served in our Armed Forces have steadfastly stood in defense of the United States and of freedom throughout the world. Although countless courageous service members and civilians have given their lives for our Nation, more than half a million others have sacrificed their own freedom as prisoners of war so the cause of liberty always prevails.

Enduring with limitless dignity and determination, these former prisoners of war are a powerful reminder that their indomitable spirit could not be broken, even by brutal treatment in contravention of international law and morality. Despite the terrible suffering inflicted upon them by their captors in harsh prisons and camps in Europe and Asia, American prisoners of war steadfastly demonstrated their devotion to duty, honor, and country.

On this day and every day, let us honor all who have borne the hardships of captivity in service to our Nation, remember the brave men and women who were held as prisoners in foreign lands during our Nation’s past conflicts, and recognize those at home who anxiously awaited their loved ones’ return. Their faith in God, love of family, and trust in our Nation are an inspiration to all Americans, and we will always remember their sacrifices.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 9, 2021, as National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day. I call upon all Americans to observe this day by honoring the service and sacrifice of all former prisoners of war as our Nation expresses its eternal gratitude for their sacrifice. I also call upon Federal, State, and local government officials and organizations to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

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